All Aboard

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July 7  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Securing a two-thirds vote of the electorate, especially to pass a tax, is a tall order.  But in the year 2000, at the height of the economic upturn, the timing was right for an ambitious and bold initiative to finally bring BART to Silicon Valley, further modernize Caltrain and also fund a host of other bus and rail improvements to provide Silicon Valley commuters with alternatives to congested highway corridors.  Thanks for the visionary leadership and dogged determination of then-San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Jude Barry co-led “Measure A,” a 30-year half-cent sales tax for BART, Caltrain and transit.  The Measure captured the support of the voting public, passing with 70.4 percent of the vote.

Early in the campaign, a young man with a penchant for public service walked into the campaign office asking to volunteer.  He ended up working 80-plus hour weeks for nearly four months, co-leading in every capacity of the campaign.  The young lawyer, a former federal prosecutor and Harvard-trained attorney, was Sam Liccardo, now Mayor of San Jose.

Epilogue: The 2000 “Measure A,” by statute, didn’t begin revenue collection until 2006, and will run through 2036.  The first ten-mile segment of the BART extension, with stations in Milpitas and Berryessa, will open ahead of schedule and well over $100 million under budget, with passenger service expected within the next nine months.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

“Slow the Flow & Save the Bay”

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July 5  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Launched in June of 1998 and leaving us flushed with excitement, the Manufacturing Group partners with the Santa Clara Valley Water District, City of San Jose and the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce to spearhead our “Slow the Flow & Save the Bay” Campaign.  The unusual education effort is an in-house employee education campaign initially launched at 75 Valley companies, to help reduce wastewater releases into the San Francisco Bay.  The effort will help protect the environment for two endangered species, and protect the economic health of the region by meeting regional limits without costly and controversial caps.  Since more than 70 percent of all wastewater flowing to the Bay in 1998 came from residences, the campaign focuses on what individuals can do to reduce water use.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

Big Rewards Require Big Risks

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July 4  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

SCCMG Vice President Carl Guardino announces the release of the “Dispelling Myths” brochure at a South San Jose affordable-housing project.

It’s March of 1998, and the Manufacturing Group Board of Directors approves our business plan to create our “Housing Trust Fund.”  In collaboration with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Community Foundation, an ambitious effort is launched to raise $20 million in voluntary contributions in just 24 months.

Little did we know that within a year, the steepest and deepest economic downturn to date would strike Silicon Valley.

Nevertheless, by August 1 of the year 2000, the audacious goal is achieved – and exceeded – with $20.6 million donated. Two of every three dollars is donated by private employers, employer foundations and private citizens.  The County, and all 15 cities and towns, contribute the other one-third.  Recognizing the spectrum of need for affordable homes in our high-cost region, the funding formula is divided into thirds – with one-third for those who are homeless, one-third for those who need affordable rental homes, and one-third for first-time homebuyers.  The initial goal: Raise $20 million to leverage $200 million, to initially assist 4,800 families.

The Foundation for the Fund is successfully laid, when five innovative employers each make the first contributions of $200,000 each: Applied Materials, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, KB Home, Solectron.  Four of the five would later donate $1 million each or more.  The funds were matched to kick-off the 2-year fundraising drive by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Board Chair Pete McHugh.

Update: In its first 17 years, the Silicon Valley Housing Trust has now raised more than $110 million in voluntary contributions, leveraging more than $2.5 billion in private development and helping more than 25,000 individuals and families.

Additional Update . . . “A Rose by any other name is still a Rose.”  That same year, 1998, the Santa Clara Valley Manufacturing Group once again changes its name, to the “Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group.”

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

Take a Pass on Traffic; Take Transit.

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July 3  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

In the summer of 1997, another creative public-private partnership is launched.  Valley Transportation Authority General Manager Pete Cipolla and Manufacturing Group CEO Carl Guardino launch a program that Mr. Cipolla brought with him from Denver, Colorado.  Re-Christened as the “Eco-Pass,” dozens of Manufacturing Group Member Companies purchase year-long transit passes to their Silicon Valley employees.  Transit usage doubles by the employees of participating employees, as the use of buses, express buses and light rail become “free” to employees because of the “fee” charged to their employers.

Leading by example, the Manufacturing Group not only recruited the employers to participate in the pilot program, but became one of the first employers to offer “Eco-Pass” to its employees.

Epilogue: The Leadership Group still provides an “Eco-Pass” to all its employees as an employee-benefit.  It is always easier to reach into one’s own wallet before asking others to reach into theirs.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

We’ve Been Working on the Railroad

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June 30  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

It’s March, 1997, and the Manufacturing Group becomes the sole business voice to advocate for the creation and funding for a new train – the Altamont Commuter Express, or ACE – providing rail service linking the Central Valley with Silicon Valley.  March marks the date that the California Transportation Commission grants the final $13.7 million to make the first two round-trip trains a reality.  Service begins just 19 months later on October 19, 1998.

In other news, January 1 of 1997 also marks the retirement date of the Manufacturing Group’s second CEO, Gary Burke, when he takes an executive position at NASDAQ.  A young man named Carl Guardino is hired to fill the big shoes left vacant by Gary Burke, and his predecessor Peter Giles.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

Turning Tears to Triumph: September, 1995.

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June 29  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

It’s a Tuesday morning in late September, when the State Supreme Court rules in a 5-2 decision that our successful 1992 traffic relief campaign – known as Measure A – is invalid, due to the new state requirement that local tax campaigns, with specific improvements, will now require a two-thirds vote.  After a very dreary day, the tears are dried and the path is laid for a new campaign.  By the following Monday, the Manufacturing Group has already pulled together 100 key stakeholders to reconvene our “Citizens Coalition for Traffic Relief,” and planning is launched for new solutions to our region’s traffic congestion challenges.

Less than 14 months later – on the first Tuesday in November of 1996 – tears turn to triumph with the passage of our traffic relief campaign known as “Measures A and B,” which featured 19 key road and transit improvements through a 9-year half-cent sales tax.  Once again, with a history of “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” 18 of the 19 improvements featured in Measures A & B are completed on-time and on-budget.  The final measure – a Caltrain-like diesel train service through Milpitas to link with the BART system in Fremont, is rejected by Milpitas citizens who want to see BART brought down to Santa Clara County, rather than a diesel train running through their community.

Spoiler alert – Milpitas citizens will get their way . . . with a BART connection . . . through a future Leadership Group-led initiative.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

“Cash for Clunkers”

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June 28  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

It’s March 23, 1995.  With a slightly new name, the “Santa Clara Valley Manufacturing Group” creates an innovative partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to get the region’s most polluting vehicles off the road.  Our “Cash for Clunkers” program hits the road, attracting 30 major employers to buy back older, smoking vehicles to help reduce air pollution.  This innovative demonstration project raises nearly half a million dollars to purchase and permanently retire more than 400 “gross polluters,” with a reduction in pollution of more than 400 tons.  Our demonstration program is so successful that it becomes a model for the Air District’s own Vehicle Buy-Back Program.

Lesson: Every effort needs an “early adopter” to lead the way.  The first contribution to our “Cash for Clunkers” program was from Applied Materials, under the leadership of a young executive Joe Pon.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

Partnerships for Progress

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June 27  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

It was the summer of 1994, when a partnership with several dozen government agencies, sister organization Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group combined forces to streamline the permit approval process across Silicon Valley.

By streamlining the Uniform Building Code from 400 individual amendments to just 11 – a reduction of 97 percent – employers were able to seamlessly work across numerous jurisdictions in a consistent, transparent way.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

“Bond.” “Tech Bond.”

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June 26  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

While not quite as memorable as James Bond and “007,” our 1993 partnership with then-Santa Clara County Supervisor Ron Gonzales was certainly impactful.  It was in April of that year that we co-created the County’s “Technology Bond,” with our Member Companies purchasing $12 million to install and improve technology systems throughout County Government.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.

There’s “No Place Like Home,” unless you cannot afford one.

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June 23  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

There’s “No Place Like Home,” unless you cannot afford one.

This was as true in 1993 as it is today.

Building coalitions to build stronger communities, not solely more homes.  This has always been the foundation of the Leadership Group.  Unlikely alliances of employers, often competitors in the marketplace, brought the Leadership Group together.  Unlikely alliances with others in our communities is equally essential to our collective success.

This is never more true than in the emotionally-charged, often difficult decisions around building quality homes in our communities to serve the needs of working families.  It is why, in 1993, with the thoughtful leadership of Don Weden with County Planning staff, the Leadership Group created the “Housing Action Coalition.”  The goal was simple, but the execution challenging – to advocate, legislate and educate for “Homes that are well-built, relatively affordable and appropriately located” to build better communities.  Soon, our Housing Action Coalition would consist of 200 partner organizations and individuals from the business, labor, environmental, neighborhood and faith communities.  Over the 22-year life of the Housing Action Coalition, the group successfully advocated for more than 250 sound housing developments that met our rigorous criteria.

Epilogue – Our Housing Action Coalition was recently folded into “SV@Home,” in which we are proud to participate.

Join us for our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Friday evening, July 28.