"This year, Apple will start making Macs in America again," President Obama said. And, that comment instantly turned Apple CEO Tim Cook into a poster child for bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. from China. However, the return of manufacturing in Silicon Valley is already under way. 30,000 new jobs were created there last year. Semiconductor and semiconductor equipment manufacturing jobs grew four percent.
"Major high-tech companies in Silicon Valley are looking at right-shoring, where they should put manufacturing, and many are concluding they should have manufacturing in Silicon Valley right near their headquarters, right near their R&D operations," said San Jose Economic Development Director Kim Walesh. Flextronics in Milpitas is on the leading edge of this trend. It's opening an expanded assembly facility this week. It wants to be ahead of the shift to U.S. manufacturing.
Some of Silicon Valley's tech giants lie along the short of the San Francisco Bay and the president's comments about the need to address climate change will hit home. The 2013 Silicon Valley Index points out Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Cisco, among many others, could be flooded if the seal level rises 16 to 55 inches. That would put the region's economic future to the test.
"Companies will say, 'Well, we're out of here. We'll head for the hills. We'll develop somewhere else.' That's certainly a possibility. It doesn't make sense though. We have fixed assets there, major investments," Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network CEO Russell Hancock said.
Gary Latshaw believes solving the problem will create jobs. He is a volunteer for the Climate Reality Project, the group co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. "Developing different technologies for living that are more energy efficient, so I think it's the next big thing, just like computers were the last big thing," he said adding that it is good for not only the valley, "but I think the whole country."
A comeback appears to be taking root. Flextronics for the past decade has been working with companies both large and small here in the Valley and with its expansion, it will be able to help many companies develop new products right in their backyard.