Bay Area economy: How do we fare?

April 2, 2008 7:31:28 PM PDT
There's a new report out that is looking at how the Bay Area fairs in this global economy. It's the first time the Bay Area Council has looked at how our region specifically compares to international competition.

Sean Randolph is President and CEO of the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute. The council is a public policy group representing hundreds of companies. The 47 page report released Wednesday is a snapshot of the Bay Area's economic health in a global economy.

"The good news is that we are an extraordinary global region by any standard," says Randolph.

42 percent of Bay Area workers have a college degree. That's a competitive edge. Another plus is that the region attracts 35 percent of all venture capital money invested in the United States.

9.5 million dollars was invested in 2006 ($1,300 dollars per resident). That's far more than second place Singapore, with $180 dollars per capita or New York with $107 dollars.

"On the down side is something we all know: the Bay Area is expensive. Not only does that drive away talented workers, but it costs companies 40 percent more to operate here than in Singapore, and the only place more expensive is London.

The report says there are key challenges, like affordable housing, the need for high speed transportation, and an underperforming early education system.

Professor Tom Means is the director of the Center for Economic Education at San Jose State University.

"I think with education, the obvious one is K-12 education is not working well. Our kids are not as prepared as other K-12 kids," says Means.

The report concludes the Bay Area is not advancing as quickly as our global competitors and there is reason for concern.

"I think we really are at risk of losing our unique position as a global center for R&D and innovation, and for an economy like us, that's what were all about -- innovation," says Randolph.

Without the proper investments, Randolph predicts the Bay Area's position in the global business world could slip within as little as five years.