MEF Newsletter August 2016

MEF Newsletter

August 2016


by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro

Year of the Entrepreneur

North Bay iHub celebrates the second annual North Bay Innovation Week highlighting innovation in the North Bay the week of Sept 12 – 16, 2016. In collaboration with iHub, Marin Economic Forum is hosting our 4th annual Marinnovation event on September 13.

iHub is a collaborative of partners dedicated to building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties thru the promotion of innovation as a community building and job creation tool by providing entrepreneurs with resources to enable them to build successful businesses.

The information economy has impacted the way we currently work and will continue to impact the way we work. This economy values knowledge workers and our future depends on the workforce development strategies towards a sustainable economy. There are many ways to discover your value in our economy. One question to ask is, “Could the vast majority of your work responsibilities be automated by a “kludged together” Excel script?”

America is the wealthiest country on earth because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom. Said differently, our wealth is not preordained; it is not coincidence and is it not guaranteed to endure. Instead, our wealth is the direct result of deliberate action to abide by certain economic principles, laws, and freedoms, many of which are now slipping away.

Some portion of the persistent unemployment in our economy is structural in nature: There is a gap between the skills of the unemployed and the capabilities that are being sought by employers with unfilled job openings. Much of the structural unemployment we see is being caused by rapid technological innovation and the evolution of our economy, which increasingly demands workers with technical skills and experience. Conventional thinking might look at this problem and say that this phenomenon happens constantly; as economies grow, skilled workers are in increasing demand. We now face a situation in which technological innovation is altering the economy so rapidly that many workers are unable to make the adjustment and gain the retraining necessary to evolve with it.

A simple thought experiment: Let’s pretend you won $10 million in the lottery and you could only do one of the following two things with your windfall:

  • Option #1: Invest in a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds and live comfortably on $300,000 – $400,000 per year in income.
  • Option #2: Start-up a new business that is creative and innovative and hires new employees to try and become successful.
  • Which option would you choose? There is no right or wrong answer here. Both options might benefit you, but only the second option is capable of being beneficial to the broader economy and society at large. New business formation and the creation, innovation, and job opportunities that come with it are the foundation of economic growth and prosperity.

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    by Dr. Robert Eyler

    Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

    Entrepreneurship and sustainability have a similar history in terms of how economists look at their definitions. Initially, we looked at entrepreneurship as “ideas”; economists think about four factors of production or inputs including labor, land, physical capital, and entrepreneurship. These ideas are paid profits, profits earned by the idea owner or ultimately the owner of a business that springs from intellectual capital (the idea). The entrepreneur’s role in our economy became more important as the economy began to monetize ideas more rapidly, and with large sums of money. There is a magazine with the title of “Entrepreneur” like “People” or “Time”; like sustainability, entrepreneurship has become a generalized term and no longer associated directly with its original meaning. Generally, we think of a smart person who started a business that was successful as an entrepreneur now. Economists still consider entrepreneurship an input to any and all businesses.

    Successful businesses are the heart of every economy and all businesses began technically with an entrepreneur. We teach this subject throughout business school curricula; Dominican University of California has its MBA programs wrapped around the entrepreneur; Babson College has a satellite campus in San Francisco on the Embarcadero and Folsom Street, a college made famous for its focus on entrepreneurship as a core idea taught in its classes. The concept is everywhere, and everyone has some ideas about new products or innovations. Not all these ideas are commercial; television programs like Shark Tank provide a quick lens into the decision making that links financial markets to new ideas.

    Marin County is a place where famous entrepreneurs have flourished. Lucasfilm, Fair Issac, BioMarin, EO Products, and many others started and grew here. Many lessons can be learned from these businesses growing from a couple ideas or concepts or products; many other businesses fail to make it here in Marin County, as in other places as starting a business is tough. Marin Economic Forum’s work is to stimulate entrepreneurs in Marin County and beyond to see Marin County as a place to do business. The history is here, but is the community support?

    Marin County has been resistant to business growth generally, under the supposition that growth means change which has many “bads” that come with it. Ironically, climate change will likely be solved or mitigated by entrepreneurship: science made commercial to help people and the earth. Everything in your home, the restaurant meals you enjoy, the phone you may be reading this on right now is a by-product of supported entrepreneurship. Our community is supported by businesses and new ideas; without them, there is no change and nothing new, fewer jobs and societal devolution.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    MEF Board Director, Laurie O’ Hara, Working Solutions

    Congratulations to Working Solutions. On Friday, July 8, they funded their 400th microloan! The loan was made to Firebrand Artisan Breads, a local bakery in Oakland that is taking the Bay Area by storm with its signature breads and delicious pastries.

    Working Solutions began in 1999 as a workforce development program under the auspices of TMC Financing. By 2005, the organization had commenced its own microlending program. Since then, they have provided over $9.8 million in lending capital to Bay Area businesses and perfected their holistic approach to community economic development by blending their lending services with business coaching and mentoring programs. In 2009, Working Solutions was officially designated a United States Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

    MEF Board Director, Michael Leifer, Digital Candy

    Congratulations to Michael Leifer and the launch of Digital Candy. Digital Candy offers advanced artificial intelligence searches on the web to identify counterfeit products and misused logos, domains, images and video.



    Marinnovation — Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016
    4:30pm – 7:30pm, Marin Commons, San Rafael
    visit to register

    North Bay Innovation Week
    September 12-16, 2016

    Throughout Sonoma and Marin counties

    100MARIN — Wednesday, September 28, 2016
    block party outside of Il Davide, San Rafael
    6:00pm – 8:00pm
    visit: to register

    Stephanie Plante Purchases Family Business

    Third generation of Bramante family now sole owner

    SAN RAFAEL, CA – Stephanie Kirby Plante, granddaughter of the late Martin Bramante, has purchased Cal-Pox, Inc., the San Rafael-headquartered real estate management and development company her grandfather founded in 1967. Plante, along with her aunt and cousins, has operated the family owned business since 1999. With the purchase from the other family members, Plante assumes sole ownership and will continue in her current role as president and CEO of the company that has operations in Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco counties.

    “The purchase of Cal-Pox is a dream come true for me,” said Plante. “My grandfather was 94 when he passed in 2014. He spent a half century building a business and teaching his children and grandchildren about it. I am honored to be able to continue that tradition.”

    Venture Greenhouse’s LOKL: Bringing Farm Fresh

    By Mary O’Mara
    Executive Director

    Venture Greenhouse 2.0, a MarinLink sponsored project, is a Marin-based business accelerator, helping promising entrepreneurs from the North Bay and Greater Bay Areas by launching and growing innovative business models in a variety of market segments such as clean technology, energy, software, medical, consumer products/services, internet and transportation. They are open to supporting entrepreneurs in driving non-profit business models, requiring sophisticated business strategies and external funding.Venture Greenhouse 2.0 requires an element of their product, service, business process, or operations to change the status quo of their industry and/or market to become more sustainable, helping companies integrate resource-efficient strategies and processes to enhance revenues, increase bottom-line profitability, and make the company more attractive to investors and customers.

    Alpha Wealth Management and Planning

    I am pleased to announce that I have joined the national independent brokerage firm of LPL Financial, my business will operate under the name of Alpha Wealth Management and Planning, LLC.  My clients’ needs are always my first priority, and access to a wider range of investment options and the latest investment tools and technology is my main driver for making this change.

    LPL Financial has established a network of more than 16,000 independent financial professionals located in over 7,000 offices in all 50 states and is the #1 independent broker/dealer in the country.  LPL shares my dedication to help preserve and grow your assets through a careful program of investment planning and selection and to the integrity of my investment advice.  The one and only focus of LPL Financial is providing advisors with the tools, training, and support they need to offer professional advice to their clients.  LPL does not offer any proprietary products with any investment or insurance companies, no product quotas or sales goals or any influence.   Clients’ needs come first.   Amid an ever-changing investment landscape, investors need an expert and experienced partner who can guide them objectively through the intricacies of investing and financial planning.  I am proud of my new affiliation and am confident that you will be pleased with the range of services you will receive as a result.

    Opus Bank is Your Partner for Growth in San Rafael and Marin

    by Karen Hawkey

    At Opus Bank, our mission is to accelerate the vision of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders who have proven their ability and need a partner for growth. What distinguishes Opus Bank is that we listen to our clients’ plans for growth, and then bring the bankers, resources, and plans to enable our clients’ vision. The team members at Opus’ San Rafael banking office include relationship bankers with a combined sixty years in the banking industry, ready to listen and understand the needs of our clients.