MEF Newsletter February 2016

MEF Newsletter

February 2016

Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
MEF and Economic Development

Since coming onboard as the CEO of Marin Economic Forum, I’ve had a number of people ask me what is meant by “economic development.” Many view it as an abstract concept. Others see it as being strictly pro-business without regard to workers, the community or the environment. Historically speaking, economic development was based around creating and/or retaining jobs, and growing the tax base and income of a region, which in turn would positively benefit the well-being of the region.

But over the past decade, the practice of economic development has expanded beyond this location and firm-based approach to encompass the development of human capital, the arts, and the environment. Human capital can be defined as those sets of skills, knowledge and value that are contributed by the workforce and populace in the community. In this way, economic development organizations are working closer with the communities in which they operate to highlight and promote the “quality of life” that will entice not only employers, but also showcase the skills and talents of the local workforce.

This is why Marin Economic Form works with its stakeholders to promote the “economic vitality” of Marin. Whether you are an employer, an entrepreneur, an employee, a student or a citizen in Marin, we want to be of assistance to you. We can do this in several ways. Marin Economic Forum’s Board of Directors represents the regions and industries and organizations of Marin, and are a great source for information. MEF is a resource for the County, municipalities and communities of Marin to help their small and medium size businesses take advantage of available federal, state, local and nonprofit economic development resources. MEF can help Marin businesses connect with programs offered through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz). MEF can articulate how public policy issues affect and impact the business community in Marin, and how proposed business projects will affect the community, its people and its environment.

As the primary economic vitality organization in Marin, MEF serves as the face of economic development to the North Bay, the San Francisco Bay area, and beyond. We work to educate Bay Area business leaders, organizations and the media of Marin’s successes. By highlighting the wonderful lifestyle and communities of Marin, tied with the lower cost of doing business compared to other San Francisco Bay areas, MEF is working to attract new businesses to Marin.

The Marin Economic Forum is here to be your resource. Your resource for information, for analysis, and for connections both inside Marin, and across the region and state.

What To Watch

Feature Article

Philanthropic Arm of Marin Economic Forum:
Supporting our Communities Non Profit Organizations
By Nina H. Gardner
CORE President, Partner Filice Insurance, and Marin Economic Forum Board Member

100MARIN is Marin County’s premier giving circle. Founded in 2015 by members of a local professional group, CORE, the group’s mission is to exponentially expand the giving power of its members in order to benefit local non-profits. To date, 100MARIN has given away over $60K to deserving Marin County non-profits, and is now the official philanthropic outreach arm of the Marin Economic Forum.

100MARIN was founded to make impact giving accessible to a large swath of the community, thus helping to further connect the business and non-profit communities in Marin. One of the founder’s wives, Erin Leidy, suggested bringing the giving circle model to Marin, having heard of similar groups in other counties. However, the members of CORE put their own spin on the format, making it a not only a powerful way to support local charities, but a fun party as well.

The format is simple: 100+ people convene, each of whom has committed to donate $100. Five non-profit organizations each give 4-minute presentations during which they share their mission, vision, need, and impact in Marin. All attendees are then asked to vote for their favorite presentation, at which point the votes are tallied, and the winner of the pot of $100 donations is announced. CORE sponsors the party, so that 100% of attendees’ donations go directly to the winning non-profit.

The first party was held in January ’15, and was an instant success, raising over $20,000 for the non-profit winner, North Bay Children’s Center. In addition, 100MARIN Charter Member, Melissa Prandi, sponsored $1,000 consolation prizes for the 4 runners-up. Both North Bay Business Journal and MarinScope featured 100MARIN in follow-up pieces.

The partnership with Marin Economic Forum was announced at the group’s second event (Summer ’15), where over $40,000 was raised for a combination of the winner and the runners-up. The IJ and Marin Magazine both wrote articles about the second party, and more than $40,000 were donated.

100MARIN’s goal is engage and inspire as many people as possible in crowd-sourced philanthropy while benefiting the many deserving non-profits in Marin County.

100MARIN’s next event takes place on Thursday, March 10, 2016, 6:00pm—8:00PM at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato. Please visit: to register.

The presenting non-profits are as follow:

Animals/Environment: Marin Bicycle Coalition
Health/Human Services: Wednesday’s Gift
Arts/Culture/Humanities: Novato Theater
Children/Education: Marin County School Volunteers
Public Benefit:

Guests mingle before and after the presentations while enjoying delicious fare from Il Davide Cucina Italiana, along with wines from several boutique producers.

It’s a wonderful evening of Food, Wine, and Philanthropy. We hope you will join us!

Nina Gardner

Calendar of Events


3 — San Rafael State of the City Dinner Event Details
5 — Make-A-Thon Event Details
10 — 100MARIN Winter Event Event Details


6 — Construction Development Meeting
6 — Finance Industry Meeting
30 — Marinovators Event Details

Sync or Swim Series #6

Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads


For this installment of the Marin Economic Forum’s Sync or Swim, I’m really excited to tell you about a new and innovative Digital and Experiential Education Program that I just found out about called MARINOVATORS, which has been incubating for the past 2 years, pretty much under the large public radar. 🙂

At the recent/inspiring Makerspace and Novato Library Opening, John MacLeod introduced me to Dane Lancaster, who is the Senior Director of Information Technology at the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) and one of the Co-Creators/Co-Shepherds of MARINOVATORS that is open to ALL of the Marin middle, high school and college students to present and exhibit their collaborative maker-style projects at the Saturday, April 30th Event throughout the campus at the College of Marin.

Designed to build student confidence, competence and to bridge the gaps between Marin schools, college and the real world, this year’s program is being co-produced as a joint initiative by the MCOE and the College of Marin. MARINOVATORS offers a place where Marin County students can showcase their passion, creativity and ingenuity in using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Digital Design and Math) principals to solve world problems.

Project themes for 2016 include: Solar Power, Smart Cities, Environmental Science, Mobile Apps, Virtual Reality, Coding, Media MAKERS, The INTERNET of Things, Digital Health and Fitness, Hack Your Biology, Robotics, Digital Fashion, Future of Work and The New Industrial Revolution.

“We especially hope that children find MARINOVATORS exciting and fun and ignites their interest in entrepreneurship, invention or pursuing a STEM or STEAM career in the future,” offered Mr. Lancaster.

The birth of MARINOVATORS arose in the Winter of 2014 from conversations by a group of teachers, the Marin County Office of Education and Autodesk about how to introduce the education community to MAKER and hands on STEM. These pioneer teachers were finding that student engagement and learning increased dramatically when classroom activities were more hands-on and focused on design thinking. One strategy to expand awareness of STEM and MAKER suggested by the group was to sponsor an “academic maker faire” in the Spring of 2014.

Last year, the MOCE hosted the first MARINOVATORS and was a huge success with over 1,800 people attending to see, hear, and interact with teachers, students and their amazing creations.

To reserve tickets to the Maker 2016 Showcase and
hear from key innovative Marin stakeholders click here.

Students can apply to exhibit their work here —

Teachers please contact Dane Lancaster by email at

MEF Chief Economist Update

2016 and the Global Economy: A Rocky Start to the Year
Dr. Robert Eyler Ph.D., MEF Chief Economist

While the Marin County economy is coming off its best jobs growth year since the mid-2000s, the world economy is starting to feel the ripple effects of the Chinese markets slowing down across investment and households. The perceived economic slowdown in China has shown its face across commodities markets and now is transmitting through financial markets. American and European financial markets have been tumbling since late 2015, and continue their fall. Why? What has a Chinese slowdown got to do with us and how is Marin County likely to feel the ripple if at all? Will my local restaurant or coffee shop close?

The Chinese economy was due for a slowdown after almost 20 years of unabated growth. It is a natural, cyclic aspect of growth. The key is the Chinese population. As incomes grew, the Chinese economy converted, albeit somewhat slowly, from an export-driven economy to a more balanced economy with some focus on its own households as consumers of its own products. This is a by-product of growth, but comes with trade-offs. One is local inflation; as local demand rises with incomes, the prices of goods and services has pressure upward. The Chinese population is now competing in global markets for the same goods and services as the United States and Europe. Inflation comes from excess demand conditions. Inflation leads to new wage demands, as excess demand for workers in labor markets also forces. The sum of these parts, including rising debt levels and some misfires with construction, have given global investors some uneasiness. Also, 6.5 years of equity market growth in trend means profits are being taken off the table with any sign of general risk rising. Our financial markets are correcting for the new information, and the key for many households in the United States (and especially Marin County) is if this is a sign of a coming recession.

For Marin County, the equity markets are a place where wealth is stored and compared to other investment possibilities, such as real estate. Housing markets remain buoyant, as interest rates remain relatively low. A key aspect of this recent shift in equity markets is how interest rates react. The Federal Reserve is unlikely to increase rates quickly given global conditions, so housing markets should be good for at least another 12 months. However, business investment and hiring may slow down a bit, and the Bay Area labor market may start adjusting if venture capital and general equity investment also slow down and shut off the funding valve. Those that live in Marin County, but rely on the core Bay Area labor markets for income, may feel a shock. While I do not expect a major amount of layoffs or a shock that changes business fundamentally in the Bay Area, this six-plus year run has to slow down at some point. The beauty of slow commodities markets is lower fuel and food prices, which act like a tax break for everyone, especially lower-income workers and commuters.

Expect 2016 to be a year of adjustments and slower growth, but Marin County residents are likely to not lose wealth in their homes or their jobs en masse. A protracted growth cycle leads to a recession that is usually as violent. Since this has been a slow and steady recovery period, the fundamentals of the economy do not lead economists to believe an economic slowdown would be strong; there is not one predicted for California through 2019 at this point. Don’t be too worried, think ‘buy-and-hold’ and plan rather than react. Marin County will always be a place people want to live; we need to keep making it a place they want to work, also.