Bay Area Cities Collaborate To Boost Regional Manufacturing

The cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Fremont and Oakland in collaboration with nonprofit SFMade release results of the first-ever Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing Report.

As technology and innovation transform manufacturing, four cities in one metro region are setting aside competitive differences to collaborate on a manufacturing initiative aimed to create more entry-level and middle-class jobs. Led by the nonprofit SFMade, and with major funding from Citi Community Development and PG&E, the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Fremont recently announced the unique collaboration, along with results from the first-ever Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing Report.

San Francisco Bay Area Manufacturing
(Image: The Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative)

With growth in manufacturing across the Bay Area now outpacing both the nation and California as a whole, the region’s four largest cities collectively sustain approximately 108,500 jobs across 3,200 manufacturing companies, according to the report.

Top findings of the report include:

  • The fastest growing sectors of job expansion were electronics, with 20 percent plus growth in either full time or part time jobs in all four cities. Jobs at surveyed companies also grew in food and beverage in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
  • Forty to fifty percent of the manufacturing jobs are production jobs, typically the first access point for workers without a four-year degree or with barriers to employment.
  • Companies reported sustaining an average 35 to 45 percent of their workforce in middle-wage jobs.
  • Natural synergies already exist among companies in the four cities, due in part to proximity and overlap in sectors. With intentional collaboration, the opportunities for growth are great.

“This renaissance of manufacturing throughout the country is being driven by cities, with the Bay Area emerging as a leading innovator in the manufacturing revolution,” said Kate Sofis, CEO of SFMade. “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.’”

SFMade’s report findings represent the first coordinated regional effort to directly survey urban manufacturers on the topics of workforce, business practices, supply chain connections, and real estate challenges. The findings will inform the collaboration’s direction, with the aim to help guide regional economic equity.

The results of the survey suggest four threads of focus for the three-year Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative:

  • Grow larger and more regionally networked manufacturers.
  • Develop intentional training pathways for all Bay Area residents to secure jobs in manufacturing.
  • Protect and create more,and more affordable, industrial land and building stock.
  • Promote the Bay Area as a center for manufacturing and manufacturing as a viable career.

“Citi has supported SFMade’s evidence-based approach to expanding urban manufacturing for more than five years, working together to boost manufacturers’ potential to create jobs and transform neighborhoods,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “Today’s report provides Bay Area policy makers, investors and entrepreneurs with insights into fresh opportunities for collaboration to accelerate the growth of an increasingly important sector.”

Click here to download the full Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing report.

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