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San Jose is Key to Bay Area’s Manufacturing Ecosystem


It is unusual for the mayors of the Bay Area’s four largest cities to appear together publicly. However, On November 17, San Jose’s Mayor Liccardo was joined by his counterparts from San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont to support local manufacturing at the Inaugural Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Summit hosted by SF Made, a regional manufacturing advocacy group.

Located in the former Bethlehem Steel building at Pier 70, a colossal and historic site where ships were once built, the event focused on promoting the existing manufacturing base in the Bay Area as well as recommending increased collaboration between Cities and fostering a local manufacturing ecosystem.

“Employers are recognizing the importance of proximity between manufacturing, design, and engineering,” said Mayor Liccardo. “We’re seeing a lot of reshoring of manufacturing now and are trying to take advantage of that.”

Manufacturers, developers and financiers attended the event along with representatives from the four cities. Kate Sofis, CEO of SF Made, addressed the need for further collaboration across cities and sectors. “With manufacturing, it does take a village,” she said. “There needs to be an ecosystem. Workforce training is critical. And that doesn’t just happen across one city, it happens across an entire region.”summit

At the event, SF Made released the Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing report, detailing manufacturing at both the local and regional level. According to the report, in the four cities studied the manufacturing sector employs approximately 108,500 people across 3,200 companies, with San Jose representing 60% of total employment. While San Jose’s manufacturing is quite diverse, the majority of employment is associated with electronics manufacturing.

“San Jose’s most unique quality is that it is the Bay Area epicenter for advanced manufacturing,” said Mayor Liccardo. “Nearly all of the world’s top electronics manufacturing services companies are here, with the largest concentration of semiconductor firms in the world, many leading electronics distribution firms and finally our concentration of original equipment manufacturers like Cisco, Brocade and Supermicro.”

While there has been much talk nationwide about manufacturing loss, one particularly interesting trend is a resurgence of manufacturing in the nation’s more urban areas.

“This renaissance of manufacturing throughout the country is being driven by cities, with the Bay Area emerging as a leading innovator in ‘Manufacturing 4.0,’” said Sofis. “Our four largest Bay Area cities are saying ‘let’s seize this moment, break down barriers and work together to create a stronger, more resilient, inclusive, interconnected local economy.’”

San Jose manufacturers participating in the event were Bestronics, a local electronics manufacturing firm who was featured in a short documentary shown to attendees, as well as Jabil, a contract electronics manufacturer, and Zebra Technologies, a maker of RFID scanners, who were highlighted in panel series of local suppliers and customers.

“What we’ve found with San Jose, which is the largest manufacturer in Northern California, is that they are the foundry for Bay Area electronics manufacturing,” said Sofis. “These companies represent the value of local manufacturing partnerships. Just imagine if we did it on scale.”