East Bay well positioned for the next era of manufacturing
It’s easy to forget in our age of apps and social media that ultimately we depend on physical products that are more than bits and bytes. Technology works with hardware, biologics are made, and products that support cleantech, electromobility, and the food we eat are produced in manufacturing facilities.
That’s a plus for the East Bay, the Bay Area’s historic manufacturing hub.
At one time, the Bay Area had a large base of manufacturing businesses. Many have closed or left, seeking lower costs in other states or abroad. We should care. Manufacturing holds the key to a balanced economy, offering middle-income jobs, upward mobility and an anchor for product research.
With 30,000 companies and 800,000 employees, manufacturing in California is larger than any other state, but its image is dated. More and more of today’s production requires digital skills, as workers interact with robots, use 3D printers, and work with sensors, data-driven autonomous systems, and digitally connected devices. These skills require targeted education and training, but not advanced degrees.
Manufacturing offers East Bay – with its land, logistics infrastructure and current production base – an opportunity for growth. Last year, he supported more than 70,000 jobs in Alameda County, with an average salary of $52,000. Technical instrumentation is the largest segment (the production of which has increased by 70% since 2008), followed by electronic components, medical equipment, industrial machinery and computer equipment. Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is also strong.
At Berkeley, Bayer’s plans to expand its product development and manufacturing campus are expected to generate more than $600 million in economic activity over the next 10 years, with direct campus employment rising from 1,000 today. nearly 2,000 today. The workforce is diverse, with 75% earning salaries above $85,000.
Another example is Astra, a space company in Alameda Point that builds launch vehicles. It recently completed its first successful commercial orbital launch and will soon launch for NASA. The company expanded its employee base from 100 to more than 300 last year, with plans to double that. Astra contributes over $58 million to the economy of the city of Alameda. Over 22% of its employees are Alameda County residents and over 30% are highly skilled.
On a different scale, Tesla employs more than 10,000 workers in the Bay Area and anchors the region’s largest manufacturing supply chain, leading the country’s transition to electric vehicles. Production in the region is expected to increase by 50%.
If East Bay can seize the opportunity presented by 21st century manufacturing, the benefits will come from economic growth and new middle-income jobs in an economy that faces a growing gap between well-paying tech jobs and poorly-paying services. remunerated.
But the Bay Area is expensive. Manufacturing can either expand here or go elsewhere. Local leaders must work with businesses to create the conditions that will allow manufacturing businesses to grow, and work with businesses and educators to ensure the region can provide the skilled labor required.
Other jurisdictions across the country are aggressively competing for manufacturing, with governors rolling out the red carpet. They make it easy to set up and many offer incentives, but the real selling point is the ease of doing business. This disadvantages California, and the Bay Area in particular.
To support a balanced economy that includes manufacturing, our local and state leaders must be equally willing to work with business to create an environment that allows manufacturing to stay and grow in the Bay Area.
Sean Randolph is senior director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and co-author of the report “Future Careers in Manufacturing: Creating a Stronger Manufacturing Workforce in Northern California.”