Federal Issues

Immigration & Innovation Go Hand-In-Hand

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February 9  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Immigration and innovation go hand-in-hand. From the founding of our country, the United States was built on the backs and with the brains of immigrants. This is only illuminated further in Silicon Valley, and throughout America’s innovation economy.

Today, 58 percent of the engineers fueling Silicon Valley’s innovation economy were not blessed to be born in the United States, according to our 2016 “Silicon Valley Competitiveness Project,” researched in partnership with our Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Half of our technology companies being created today have an immigrant as a founder or CEO. Across our country, four of every ten Fortune 500 companies was created by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

It’s discouraging that some will assert or imply that immigrants are quote “taking away American jobs.” Let’s be clear, and place facts over fear. Fact – The United States economy needs 125,000 graduates each year with Computer Science degrees. Our U.S. colleges and universities only produce 50,000 each year. Ironically, roughly half of those 50,000 graduates are foreign-born. Yes, we only graduate 25,000 American born Computer Science graduates each year, leaving a shortfall of 100,000.

When American employers hire talent from around the globe, the reasons are clear. We are 5 percent of the world’s population. How ignorant and arrogant it would be for us to assume that there are not smart, capable people among the other 95 percent of the world’s population born outside our shores. We will continue to hire the best and brightest born as American citizens, while also hiring the courageous and creative who came here – often at great personal peril – to study here, work here, create and innovate here.

Immigration is the American story, and the secret sauce of Silicon Valley’s robust economy. We will stand up, and speak up, for our rich immigrant tradition.

Statement on Immigration and Innovation

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January 31  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

“The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an organization of 400 employers with facilities in all 50 states and almost every Congressional District, urges the Trump Administration, House and Senate to unite around the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. Our country’s greatest ideals embrace and respect people of all ethnicities, national backgrounds and faiths. Let’s build upon that tradition now and always.”

“The Leadership Group respects that our national security must remain a paramount concern of our Federal Government. We also believe our actions must be tempered by thoughtful, measured decisions that will strengthen our economy, security and moral authority.”

“Silicon Valley and much of America’s Innovation Economy has been built through the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of courageous immigrants and refugees. In fact, 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Whether iconic global brands or struggling entrepreneurial start-ups, innovation economy companies are created disproportionately by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, 58 percent of our engineers – the lifeblood of Silicon Valley – are foreign-born. Whether it is Intel Co-Founder Andy Grove, Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang or Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin, we are proud that so many leaders born outside of the United States moved here – often at great risk – to call our Country home.”

“Through this lens, we urge the Administration and Congress to never forget that we are a nation of immigrants, often refugees, whose diversity is the backbone of our unity. Our economy and quality of life are enhanced by waves of immigrants who continue to help build our Country.”

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Free Trade Strengthens America & America’s Workers

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January 20  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Free trade strengthens America and America’s workers.

President Obama has invested seven years negotiating a free trade agreement – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with 11 Asia-Pacific countries and the United States, representing 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

To the president’s credit, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would reduce or eliminate 18,000 taxes or fees on American employers struggling to compete globally.

It is imperative that the United States Congress ratify the president’s Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2016. As President Obama has stated:

  • 40 million American jobs depend on trade.
  • On average, export-related jobs pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related jobs.
  • Every $1 billion in exports supports on average 5,800 American jobs.
  • Over the past five years alone, there has been an increase of 1.8 million jobs related to exports.

Kudos to the president for insisting on the strongest labor and environmental provisions of any U.S. trade deal in history, which is good for America and America’s workers, and vital to workers throughout the world.

Silicon Valley, it is time to step forward and support the president. Let’s encourage our own congressional delegation to do likewise.

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Regional Patent Office: Eight Years in the Making

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October 21  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

Those famous and fitting words by President Abraham Lincoln, himself an inventor and entrepreneur, could not be more appropriate when describing our recent success – eight years in the making – in securing a regional U.S. Patent and trademark Office in Silicon Valley, which opened for business on Thursday, October 15.

For the first 225 years of America’s U.S. patent system, an innovator or inventor needed to travel to Alexandria, Virginia if he or she needed to meet directly with a patent examiner or judge. Few young entrepreneurs can invest the time or treasure for such a trip, placing at-risk the protection of their intellectual property and inventions.

That all changed last week in Silicon Valley, with the opening of the new office in San Jose with 80 patent examiners and 20 patent judges.

Like most successes, this one was not secured over night. It took roughly 2,920 days, including passing federal legislation signed by the President in 2011, competing against 500 other bids for only three competitively selected regional patent offices, and enduring budget shortfalls and sequesters.

Silicon Valley, which is already home to 1 of every 10 patents filed in the United States, is now also home to a much needed regional patent office.

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Free Trade is Vital for America’s Economy

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June 3  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . 95 percent of the consumer base for tech products is outside of the United States.

Without free trade, our companies and workers lack access to the foreign markets on which American workers depend in order to sell American goods and services.

How important is free trade to America and Silicon Valley’s economy? Today, nearly 40 million U.S. jobs depend on trade, meaning more than 1 of every 5 American workers has a job linked to the export and import of goods and services.

American manufacturing employees in the “most trade-intensive industries” earn on average 56 percent more than those in manufacturing companies that were less engaged in trade.

That’s why President Obama has staked as one of his highest priorities the passage of Trade Promotion Authority, to help him complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Combined, those 12 countries represent 40 percent of the world’s GDP and one-third of global trade.

For more than 20 years, American presidents have been granted “fast-track authority” by Congress. It is critical to the success of Silicon Valley that President Obama be granted this same level of authority.

Without Trade Promotion Authority, manufacturers and American workers risk being locked out and left behind as other countries negotiate dozens of trade agreements that exclude the United States.

That’s why the vote on Trade Promotion Authority passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate, with a bi-partisan vote of 62-37. If Trade Promotion Authority stalls in the House, it will hurt almost every household in America. Urge your member of Congress to stand with Silicon Valley and America’s innovation economy. Urge them to vote yes for free trade.

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Raise Yourself Up Without Tearing Others Down

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May 27  |  Community, Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … You can raise yourself up without tearing others down.

On the same day, I recently found in my mailbox two separate letters. One from a prominent Democrat member of Congress and one from a top-tier Republican presidential candidate.

Along with the expected appeal for money, both envelopes contained rather lengthy letters that seemed to spend as much ink tearing down the other political party as it invested in praising their own.

From the Republican presidential candidate, I read such red meat as the following:

“I know what the liberal Democrats are capable of, because I understand how desperately they crave power.”

And “Content with the status quo and willing to accept mediocrity, the Liberal Democrats are running our country into the ground.”

From the congressional Democrat, I read such lines as:

“We face a radical Republican Party with … a willingness to do or say whatever it takes to advance their far right-wing agenda and obstruct any and all of our progress.”

Oh my.

Instead of ripping into the purported evils of the other party, why not focus on the solutions your own party has to offer?

I seem to recall our Founders writing eloquently about the “United” States of America, not the divided and divisive parties that would burn bridges down rather than build them.

A note to leaders of both our major political parties: Give the American people credit. We are smarter than you might think. We crave solutions to our nation’s problems, not personal attacks and political ambition.

Candidates, please – run on your ideals and ideas. Lift us up, without tearing others down.

 

The Visa Lottery

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April 1  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s good for thought … “The lottery.”

A random lottery is not how America should recruit for talent.

Yet a lottery system – the luck of the draw – is what the U.S. government believes is the best way for innovation economy companies to compete for top talent born around the globe.

Adding to the irony, April 1st – yes, April Fools’ Day – is the annual day the visa lottery for talent begins.

After 9/11, an artificial annual cap of 65,000 was set for high-skill, high-wage, high-tech workers. The number is so artificially low that the applications exceed it in a single day. Then everyone waits to see if they win the global war for talent based solely on luck.

America can do better. Pass the U.S. Senate’s bi-partisan “I-Squared” bill. Help America better educate kids blessed to be born in the United States while also recruiting the best and brightest kids born around the world.

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D.C. by the Numbers

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March 25  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “D.C.” may actually stand for “Different Culture.”

Comparing Silicon Valley, the world’s “innovation capitol” with Washington, D.C., our “nation’s capitol” is like comparing the sun and the moon . . . both important, interesting, even intriguing, but very different.

DCtrip15

Silicon Valley Leadership Group Board Chair and Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker and new San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo meeting with Rep. Anna Eshoo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Zoe Lofgren during our Spring D.C. Advocacy Trip.

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo led a delegation of 55 CEOs, senior officers and local elected officials to our nation’s capitol.

Here are the results, by the numbers: The executives invested 48 hours in meetings with 85 House members, 19 Senators and 10 Administration officials, on seven core issues of importance to our innovation economy:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Immigration reform
  • Patent litigation reform
  • Funding for BART to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Funding to further improve Caltrain Commuter Rail Service
  • Tax reform
  • Competitiveness

We have some traits in common – often smart, committed, passionate people working to make a difference. However, the pace of change is eons apart. In Silicon Valley, a product life cycle is as brief as six months. In D.C., even a minor piece of legislation can take years, decades, from inception to completion.

Democracy, especially in our nation’s capitol, is not for the faint of heart. Progress is measured in years, not days or weeks, so we will continue to build the bridges needed to bring together innovators with policy makers.

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CEOs in D.C.

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April 2  |  Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. – Separated by three time zones? Or the Twilight Zone?

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group took 50 CEOs and senior executives, along with several local elected leaders, to Washington, D.C. for three days.

It is never a small request to ask executives, running global companies, to set aside the demands of their businesses to travel to D.C.

In a Valley where product life cycles can last as little as six months, CEOs often scratch their heads as Congress takes years, sometimes decades, to tackle issues of great importance to America’s economy:

  • Immigration Reform: More than three decades have passed since major reforms were last enacted.
  • Tax Reform: Four decades.
  • Patent Reform: Before a partial overhaul in 2011, the last meaningful action was nearly 70 years ago.

So why do executives and local elected leaders still slog back to D.C.?

First, through patience and persistence, successes do happen: Consider our victory in securing the Regional Patent Office in San Jose, and $900 million in matching funds for our BART extension.

Second, relationships are strengthened. Silicon Valley is the earth’s epicenter of innovation. D.C. is the capitol of our democracy. Differences will remain, but we must focus on the bridges that must be built. Citizen engagement is good for America, good for our democracy, and good for the innovation that drives our country’s economy.

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CEO Survey: Seeking Solutions

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March 5  |  Education, Federal Issues, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If we want to increase employment, then let’s learn from employers.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group conducts a “CEO Business Climate Survey,” seeking direct input from the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive our region’s economy.

This year, 222 executives responded. The results are enlightening:

  • Last year, 2013, 62 percent added jobs in Silicon Valley, with only 9 percent subtracting jobs.
  • This year, 2014, 59 percent expect to add jobs here in Silicon Valley, with only 4 percent anticipating job losses.

Indeed, Silicon Valley continues to lead California and our country when it comes to job growth and economic recovery.

So what do employers, and our employees, need from policy makers to stay successful in innovation and job creation?

  • Locally, CEOs call for improvements on our local streets, roads and transit systems so that employees and their families can get around. We need quality schools for our children, and homes that working families can afford.
  • At the state level, we need meaningful investments in infrastructure to repair aging roads and ease traffic congestion. We need sensible solutions to the high cost of housing and investments in K-12 and higher education.
  • From Congress, we need immigration reform that ensures the best and the brightest can compete for our companies rather than against us, and tax reform that is fair to workers and keep our companies competitive.

This year’s CEO Business Climate Survey underscores that executives are willing to speak out, to search for solutions, to invest in answers. Silicon Valley’s innovation does not end within the walls of our companies, it extends through the neighborhoods in our communities.

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