Priorities for 2014: Enhance California’s Economic Competitiveness through Our Silicon Valley Caucus

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February 5  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Silicon Valley is one of the strongest brands in the world. Those who represent our region in the state and nation’s Capitol should be equally strong.

It is with that belief that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group reached out four years ago to the 14 state legislators who represent our region in the state Capitol, with the idea of forming a “Silicon Valley Caucus.” The Silicon Valley Caucus now consists of those 14 legislators along with approximately 30 CEOs from innovation economy companies ranging from young startups to global leaders; high-tech, bio- and med-tech, clean and green tech, VCs and financial services.

The first meeting, four years ago, was like a junior high school dance, with the “boys” on one side of the room and the “girls” on the other. Today, our legislators and employers are working together, tackling issues of importance to our region, state and nation.

In the last legislative session, together we championed legislation by Senator Jim Beall for traffic improvements, by Assemblyman Rich Gordon for affordable housing funds, by Assemblyman Phil Ting on job creation and by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Nora Campos to assist startup entrepreneurs.

In 2014, California faces a drought, the crumbling conditions of our roads and bridges, high rates of homelessness, a need for streamlined regulations, strengthened K-12, pre-K and higher education systems, and a whole host of other issues of importance to employers in their board rooms and workers and their families in their living rooms.

That is why the Silicon Valley Caucus continues. The Leadership Group neither endorses nor contributes financially to candidates. That is the role of our citizens. Our role is to work closely with whomever our citizens elect, for the good of our region and our state. If we are successful, the brand we call Silicon Valley will continue to create jobs and innovation right here in the Golden State.

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Priorities for 2014: Fighting for Meaningful Immigration Reform

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January 29  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . When we eat a loaf of bread, do we bite one slice at a time, or swallow it whole?

That seems to be the debate in D.C. about meaningful immigration reform.

The U.S. Senate, under Democratic control, passed one large comprehensive bill. Good work, and we applaud their effort.

The U.S. House of Representatives, under Republican control, is looking to pass four to five separate immigration bills, collectively adding up to meaningful reform.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare: A rose by any other name is still a rose. Whether one comprehensive bill or several slices of legislation adding up to the entire loaf, the key is meaningful reform that strengthens our economy for all of our workers – high-tech, low-tech and no-tech.

For Silicon Valley, we need to compete globally with talent born in the United States as well as those adventurous enough to come here.

For California’s rich agriculture industry, workers are needed who grow and harvest our fruits, vegetables and nuts.

For kids and parents who came here seeking freedom and a better quality of life, a well-lit path to leave the shadows and engage as legal residents is also important.

We are a nation of immigrants – whether my father’s parents who came here from Sicily at the dawn of the last century, or folks arriving every day. It is time America’s immigration system was updated, and I applaud members of both the House and Senate – Democrat and Republican – for taking this on, one slice at a time.

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Priorities for 2014: BART Extension – Phase II

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January 22  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Let’s never forget BART’s great start.

For the past 15 years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has championed bringing BART to Silicon Valley, including successful ballot measures in 2000 and 2008, along with advocacy to secure $2 billion in state and federal matching funds.

These efforts have led to the construction of the first 10 miles of the 16-mile BART extension, which is running nearly $100 million under-budget and a full year ahead of schedule. Service will begin in the summer of 2017.

While we monitor the progress on the first 10 miles, we cannot lose sight of the final six miles. Here’s why:

  • The first 10 miles takes BART from Warm Springs in Fremont to Milpitas and Berryessa in North San Jose, linking with Light Rail.
  • The final six miles adds four more stations: In Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose, Diridon Station/SAP Center and Santa Clara.
  • All 16 miles will serve roughly 90,000 daily passenger trips, removing 16,000 tons of greenhouse gasses from our atmosphere each year.
  • All 16 miles leads to 108,000 new jobs and 27,000 new homes within a half-mile of the six new BART stations, easing congestion on our roads and highways.

Yes, BART is off to a great start – but let’s never forget to finish what we start. That’s why phase II of the BART extension, the final six miles, remains a top priority of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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Priorities for 2014: Strengthening California’s Higher Education Systems

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January 16  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Companies need colleges.

Without world-class talent raised or recruited here, our region would be one more one-hit wonder, rather than the innovation capital of the world.

That’s one reason why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group will focus even further on ensuring that higher education serves everyone who wishes to call Silicon Valley and California home.

With tangible goals and specific outcomes, we will be partnering in 2014 with our Community Colleges, UC campuses, CSU system and private sector universities to make them more affordable and accessible for our students, more compelling for faculty and staff, and more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

Our Higher Education Task Force, under the creative leadership of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal and Lockheed Martin Space Systems President Tory Bruno, already is working directly with the new President of the UC system, Janet Napolitano, to achieve specific goals that will drive the world’s best research campuses to greater success.

So why does any of this matter to you and me? Bottom line – It’s about jobs. Jobs for us and jobs for our kids. You see, in the United States today, a young person at least 25-years-old without a college diploma, suffers from an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent. The equivalent 25-year-old, with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, enjoys an unemployment rate of only 3.3 percent.

That’s why our work to improve California’s higher education systems is so important to the 382 CEOs who own the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. If we do a good job today, it will lead to more jobs, for more young people, tomorrow.

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Priorities for 2014: Comprehensive Business Tax Reform

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January 8  |  Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Ironically, recent events in Washington, D.C. have led many to believe that “Nothing is certain but the death of tax reform.”

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we are concerned that this may be the case for business tax reform. American businesses deserve better, and America’s economy needs better.

Allow me to explain.

For the past four years, a bipartisan, bicameral effort has been underway to develop meaningful, comprehensive business tax reform that is fair to U.S. businesses and would make American employers competitive abroad.

Democrat Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan have invested four years – working together in a productive, positive way – meeting every week that they are in D.C. on meaningful, thoughtful reform.

Senator Baucus, who planned to retire at the end of 2014 from the Senate, had also viewed this multi-year effort as the capstone of his career. Then, just two weeks ago, to the surprise of many, President Obama announced his plans to appoint Senator Baucus as America’s next Ambassador to China. Regardless of the merits of that selection, losing the Senator at this time makes meaningful tax reform – after four years of work – a much steeper climb.

Keeping the Senator in the Senate, working to pass the first comprehensive tax reform legislation in 30 years, would serve our nation much better than a post in China.

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The Leadership Group’s Top Five Priorities for 2014

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December 18  |  Education, Federal Issues, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation, Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Make your goals transparent and accountable.

Each year, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group creates a three-year rolling business plan. Designed by our 392 members, it sets priorities in 10 distinct areas in which we can add value to the Valley, state and nation: education, energy, environment, federal issues, local government, health care, housing, tax policy, transportation and the community. All told, we have 62 distinct deliverables in our rolling business plan.

Each initiative is selected, and each effort must be measurable.

For 2014, our top five priorities were set last week at our Annual Shareholders Meeting.

  • Number 1: Work for comprehensive U.S. tax reform that is fair to taxpayers at home and keeps us competitive abroad.
  • Number 2: Strengthen California’s higher education systems
  • Number 3: Advance the BART extension from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Number 4: Fight for meaningful immigration reform
  • Number 5: Enhance California’s economic competitiveness through our 14-member Silicon Valley Caucus serving in our state Legislature.

By making our goals public – both to our members and to the broader community of citizens and stakeholders – we make ourselves accountable to everyone in our community.

To view our complete set of priorities in each of our ten priority areas, please visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s website. We would welcome the opportunity to engage you and your company in our work.

We face tremendous challenges in 2014, with plenty of opportunities to work together to forge our future success. We do this by setting clear goals that make us both transparent and accountable.

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Join the Conspiracy

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December 11  |  Community, Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Christmas – That time of year when we spend money on people we don’t like, for things they don’t need, with funds we cannot afford.

Let’s reset. Join me in a conspiracy – an Advent Conspiracy – by cutting out even one gift and giving to someone truly in need.

Here’s perspective:
• In the U.S. alone, Americans will spend $450 billion during the holiday season.
• For $10 billion, we could ensure fresh, clean drinking water for every person on the planet.

Why does fresh drinking water matter? Currently, one in nine people on the globe – 785 million people – lack access to fresh drinking water.

Fifty percent of the people on the planet have lower water quality than that enjoyed by citizens of Rome 2,000 years ago.

In Cambodia, three of every four deaths are the result of water-borne diseases.

Every 20 seconds a child dies due to lack of access to clean drinking water.

Just think – money saved on one less gift can save one additional life.

Join the conspiracy. Whether around the world or around your block, give to someone in need.

Happy Holidays!

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Creativity Trumps Calamity: Bringing the Regional Patent Office to Silicon Valley

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November 20  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Creativity is almost always the result of calamity.

On November 19, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and I announced at a news conference that our long-sought regional patent office is back on-track, set to open at San Jose City Hall in late 2014.

Finally, after four-plus years of effort, this dream will become a reality.

Yet our goal to secure a regional patent office was faced with significant hurdles:

  • Hurdle one: Securing language in the America Invents Act legislation that President Obama signed in September 2011. Without the stewardship of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and her colleagues, language allowing for three competitively selected regional patent offices would never have been included.
  • Hurdle two: Competing against 500 other bids for just three regional offices was difficult, especially because cost of living was a key criteria in the selection process.
  • Hurdle three: The sequester. Even though America’s patent system is funded by fees from America’s innovators and entrepreneurs, the federal government held it hostage in the sequester process. Once again, creativity overcomes calamity, especially in innovative Silicon Valley. Mayor Reed offered space at City Hall. Assembly Speaker John Perez secured funds for the office. Congressmembers Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Mike Honda championed the cause within the Capitol and our own Silicon Valley Leadership Group pushed for a solution around the sequester.

The result – in late 2014 the Silicon Valley office will open. Patent examiners and judges will meet with innovators and entrepreneurs in the heart of America’s innovation economy – rather than making inventors travel all the way to Alexandria, Virginia to file and protect their patents.

So like Silicon Valley – we see a problem and design a solution. Creativity once again trumps calamity.

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Women Leaders: From the Classroom to the Board Room

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November 6  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . My professional title is CEO, but my favorite title is “daddy.”

Raising two little girls – Jessica, 8, and Siena, 4 – has reinforced the work we must collectively do to empower more women leaders.

The statistics, even in egalitarian Silicon Valley, are startling:

  • While 51 percent of our population is female, only 18 percent of the students studying engineering in American universities are women.
  • Only 4 percent of corporate executives are women, and according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, women make up only 9 percent of corporate board directors in Silicon Valley.

For Silicon Valley to remain economically competitive, we need to raise all of our kids – girls and boys; Hispanics and Asians, Blacks and Caucasians – to succeed in school and in society.

In 2014, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group plans to step up its efforts – with more Women & Girls Leadership Summits, with our inaugural Men & Boys Leadership Summit, through our 1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds tutoring initiative, the Educare Early Childhood Learning Center in East San Jose, and our inaugural Heart & Soles 5K fun run for healthy meals for kids.

Our daughters, and sons, need mentors and role models, coupled with inspiration and opportunities, to rise and reach their full potential. To join any of our efforts, please contact me at cguardino@svlg.org. To grow the role of women in our board rooms, we must ensure the success of young girls in our classrooms.

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Palo Alto Needs Affordable Homes for Seniors: Vote Yes on Measure D

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October 30  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

As CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I have spent countless evenings at City Council hearings across the valley to voice support for more homes near transit, jobs and services. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, I often hear the same concerns.

This debate is currently underway in Palo Alto over Measure D, an affordable housing proposal for seniors on the Nov. 5 ballot. There, a nonprofit developer won approval to build 60 affordable apartments along with 12 single family homes.

The Council’s unanimous approval of the proposal reflects the understanding that affordable housing for seniors is sorely needed. Thanks to modern technology, people are living much longer and as a result, seniors will continue to make up a much greater share of our overall population. The proposal is close to El Camino Real and the types of transit and businesses that are needed by our aging population. In addition, the affordable housing proposal directs growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, building within our cities instead of suburban sprawl.

Palo Alto needs affordable homes for our senior citizens. Urge your friends and family in Palo Alto to vote yes on Measure D.

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