Wanted: More life science, biotech businesses

North Bay Business Journal

By Gary Quackenbush
North Bay Business Journal

The North Bay can be a productive growth medium for biotechnology and life sciences companies, but it needs investment dollars, both public and private, and talent, say area officials working to grow the industry.

“For us, the goal is how to use data to attract more bio/life science firms and researchers to the North Bay, as well as how to retain those who have chosen to come here,” said Jim Cordeiro, CEO of San Rafael-based Marin Economic Forum.

He, along with a host of other life science industry leaders, attended the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco in June, where the consensus was that this industry is complicated — and not good at communicating its core messages.

Founded in 2012, Marin Economic Forum is a nonprofit organization that collects, analyzes and disseminates information that affects local businesses while also collaborating with communities in which their employees reside. Industries targeted include biological and life sciences, agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing.

“Our goals include building greater collaboration and communication by integrating information technology into life sciences,” Cordeiro said. “This involves the use of good story-telling techniques to create an emotional connection to engage the imagination and communicate what science is all about in basic terms.”

The process begins with identifying the types of research being done today at the Buck Institute in Novato and other North Bay life science firms, as well as within the University of California system. Finding out what the life science industry wants is the first step leading to attracting capital and talent matching those needs.

“Life sciences start with capital for essential research, and there is local and private capital here for generating initial research, before seeking venture capital,” Cordeiro said. “At the same time, measurable metrics are required, as well as a strategic plan for utilizing data being collected.”

He said the end result will be a series of “product potential” models the forum can sell to life sciences firms, the community and investors going forward, as part of his organization’s plan to establish mechanisms for gaining funding support.


Cordeiro’s plans for the forum include establishing a firm connection between increasing economic development and job growth in life sciences, including a related goal to add 1,000 more life sciences jobs in Marin by 2020.

Read more at the North Bay Business Journal

Marin Economic Forum names life sciences veteran CEO

By Adrian Rodriguez
Marin Independent Journal

A life sciences and biotech industry veteran has been tapped to lead the effort to attract and grow new business in Marin.

Jim Cordeiro, a co-founder of the now-defunct Oceana Technologies, a San Francisco-based firm, has been named CEO of the Marin Economic Forum, the San Rafael-based nonprofit.

“Jim is a great hire for this job,” said Robert Eyler, the forum’s chief economist and founding CEO. “He had a life sciences-based company and he was CEO of that company — he knows the industry very well. Jim also comes with some nonprofit board experience, where there was a political advocacy piece of it.”

Cordeiro, a 42-year-old Novato resident, succeeds Steve Lockett, who relocated to North Carolina after a half-year stint in the post, the forum announced last month.

Cordeiro has 18 years of industry experience working as a leading scientist at Nodality, Affymetrix and other biotechnology and academic organizations.

“One of the things the Marin Economic Forum is likely to do is get a little more involved in higher-level socioeconomic and sociopolitical issues in Marin County that affect Marin County business, and Jim has some experience in that, too,” Eyler said.

Cordeiro has served as an adviser and on the board of directors for the Pacifica Education Foundation, which has a focus on 21st-century learning and technology.

Marin Economic Forum’s $400,000-a-year budget is funded by the county of Marin, contributions from businesses and individuals, and revenue generated from economic reports prepared by the forum. The county provides matching funds up to $150,000 per year. Founding sponsors, who contribute a minimum of $10,000 a year, include Autodesk, Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, Marin General Hospital, Whole Foods Markets, the city of Novato and the county of Marin.

The Marin Economic Forum has teamed with the city of Novato, the Buck Institute and other regional organizations to form the North Bay Life Sciences Alliance to promote further biotech development in the North Bay.

“The focus of the economic forum is how we can build a sustainable pipeline in the innovation space and life sciences,” Cordeiro said. “Through partnerships and collaborative efforts we are working on with them to commercialize the intellectual property that is generated through them.”

Marin Supervisor Judy Arnold, vice president of the forum’s executive board, said Cordeiro’s resume is impressive and he will serve the nonprofit well.

“He comes from a focus in life sciences, and the Marin Economic Forum is focusing on bringing more of that to Marin,” she said. “We are very excited about the possibilities to grow and for Marin County to become more of a go-to place for businesses and work.”

Cordeiro said there is room to grow in the existing industry, pointing out Marin’s biotech and life sciences leaders, including BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp. and Cytograft Tissue Engineering,

“Life sciences is my background — it’s a passion of mine,” Cordeiro said. “These are the kind of jobs we want to make available, so people can afford to live and work here.”

Cordeiro holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz as well as several patents.

MEF Newsletter July 2016

MEF Newsletter

July 2016


by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro


The BIO International Conference returned to the birthplace of biotechnology, San Francisco, for 2016. Bio2016 attracted over 15,000 biotechnology and pharmaceutical leaders for one week of intensive networking and partnering meetings to discover new opportunities and promising partnerships.

The North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA), in partnership with the Marin Economic Forum, held an important presence at the conference as part of the California Pavilion. NBLSA monitors trends in employment, financing, commercial space, and government support for life-science businesses in the NBLSA counties (Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano). Importantly, the North Bay is one of the global hubs of life-science businesses and finance in Northern California which, in turn, is a global hub for research and development in the field.

Recognizing the impact of the NBLSA region, the California Life Sciences Alliance (CLSA) asked our chief economist, Dr. Robert Eyler, to be the opening speaker at the California Pavilion.

Title of the talk: North Bay Life Sciences Alliance | Growing and Moving in the North Bay

Following the completion of the conference, we co-hosted a morning session at the Buck Institute for media and senior executives who attended the event. Presentations were made by Chris Stewart, NBLSA COE and Chairman and Stelios Tzannis, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Buck Institute.

NBLSA Annual Report

NBLSA also recently published its annual report, produced by the Marin Economic Forum (MEF), which identifies 90 businesses involved in global life-science markets within the NBLSA counties, with as many as 470 headquartered and branch businesses stretching across different life-science sectors in the North Bay.

As of the second quarter of 2015, the NBLSA counties accounted for 10,000 jobs in the life-science sector. For the entire year 2015, researchers were awarded $13 million in National Institute of Health (NIH) grants, primarily from the Buck Institute for Aging Research in Marin County. Venture capital trends are moving toward a larger proportion of life-science investment in portfolios. In Marin County, biotechnology is second only to software as venture capital investment since 2009.

The Economic Value of Doing Good: BioMarin’s Impact on the Bay Area Economy

MEF chief economist Dr. Eyler has produced a case study for BioMarin, using the Company’s revenue, employment figures, and aggregate wage data to construct an economic model of its impact on the overall Bay Area economy.

Headquartered in San Rafael, BioMarin is one of the largest private-sector employers north of the Golden Gate Bridge. BioMarin’s presence leads to regional spending beyond its headquarters and operations in Marin County, and this ripple effect spreads to industries beyond biology research and manufacturing.

Another highlight from BIO2016 was the keynote address by Dr. Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu and Will Smith. Dr. Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by examining American football players while working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Omalu’s efforts to study and publicize CTE in the face of opposition by the National Football League were first reported in a GQ magazine article in 2009. The article was later expanded into a book, Concussion, and adapted into a film of the same name where Dr. Omalu, the central character, is portrayed by Smith. The movie’s production led to the creation of a foundation named after Dr. Omalu to advance CTE and concussion research.

MEF Chief Economist Update

by Dr. Robert Eyler

Brexit and Marin County: Marin is Sound as the Pound?

As Brexit was passed by voters in the United Kingdom, many questions remain and new ones are being raised. Locally (and regionally), there may be repercussions for Marin County, which has several companies who compete on a global basis. The three primary issues Marin County residents and employers need to consider are: (1) housing and financial market performance; (2) shifts in tourism flows, and (3) trade links to the UK as either a marketplace or a gateway to mainland Europe.

The June 23rd vote in the United Kingdom (UK) is further proof that we are likely to remember 2016 as one of the most politically-focused years in this century, and perhaps in the last 25 years. While American politics are slowly building to a crescendo in November for the presidential election, the UK debated, placed on the ballot and voted to leave the European Union (EU). Because the pound sterling (the UK’s currency) is not part of the consortium of countries using the Euro, the unwind is more about how currencies are trading for each other and less about compliance. That unwind from trade and financial infrastructure based on EU membership will be a large enough headache.

The EU is a group of countries that came together from the European Common Market of the 20th century, and began the move toward a common currency (which non-Euro countries, including the UK, backed out of in the 1990s). These agreements begin with free trade among members, then customs unions (harmonizing trade laws inside and outside the membership), and then common markets (trade flows free for goods, financial capital and labor). The latter issue became paramount for the UK as the flow of migrant workers from other EU countries increased to take advantage of strong currency and high wages in the UK. The EU countries otherwise are a mixed bag of recovery stories since the last recession, and migration issues were exacerbated by refugees from the Middle East seeking a new life.

For Marin County, housing may be positively affected for two reasons. First, the outflow of capital toward the United States from the UK will further reduce pressure on interest rates; the Federal Reserve knows this and may now further delay interest rate increases to prevent the U.S. from becoming a magnet for UK wealth seeking the slightest of interest rate gains. Mortgage rates will remain stable and low, and housing demand will remain supported. Those residents with global investments may find losses from emerging markets that have ties to the UK (Indonesia and Malaysia are two examples); countries like Japan may be helped by this financially, though auto sales to the UK (and wine sales there for the North Bay region) may suffer.

For Marin County businesses, trade and labor connections to the UK may be delayed due to connections toward other EU countries changing. UK and US trade and financial relations otherwise should be little affected if there are no direct connections outside the UK. Business such as Autodesk and BioMarin may need to consider the size and scope of offices and business branches in the UK if used to service Europe more completely. This is a major theme for US businesses using the UK as a launching pad for Europe). This may slow progress in life sciences generally, especially if global uncertainty is exacerbated by this situation.

For tourism, we may see a flip of British tourism for Americans. Marin County residents may now plan trips to London they have delayed because the pound’s value falling suddenly provides a tax break for travelers. For UK travelers, they are facing a tax increase coming to Marin County, wine country, and the greater Bay Area. Businesses in Marin County, such as hotels and B&Bs and restaurants, may here fewer UK accents in the coming months, which could make for some marketing challenges given the summer has started. (DO WE KNOW IF UK TOURISM IN MARIN COUNTY IS SIGNIFICANT? THIS COULD BE A SUPPOSITION WITH LITTLE SUPPORT IN REALITY.)

Under the assumption that global uncertainty ebbs a bit after the tidal wave of opinions and concerns is done crashing over news channels, Marin County should be economically good after this is all said and done. The UK has multiple reasons to sort the aftermath out quickly, and then we can prepare for November and more political zaniness.

Click Here To View Past Newsletters

Board Corner

MEF Board Director Nina Gardner, 100MARIN/CORE

100+ People Who Care: Marin County (100MARIN) is Marin County’s premier giving circle. The organization was created to increase the collective impact of its members’ annual dues, while helping to further the causes of deserving, local non-profits. Founded in January 2015, the group holds meetings twice a year, at which each attendee pledges $100. Five Marin-based non-profits then each make four-minute pitches, everyone votes for their favorite presentation, and the winner leaves with all of the pledge money. 100MARIN has been a fiscally-sponsored arm of the Marin Economic Forum since July 2015.

Here’s how it works:

  • A group of individuals commits to an annual donation schedule, e.g. giving $100 2-4 times per year
  • They then convene on that same schedule to hear presentations form 3-5 local non-profits
  • At the end, a vote is conducted to determine which organization will receive the group’s pooled donations
  • The awareness and engagement opportunities for both nominated charities as well as non-profit community at large are increased
  • MEF Board Director, Brigitte Moran, CEO of Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM)

    Brigitte is dedicated to realizing AIM’s vision of building a pavilion focused on celebrating the region’s agricultural roots, supporting artisan development and the success of our 500 local farmers and food purveyors, as well as educating and connecting communities to local agriculture.

    The FARM FIELD STUDIES PROGRAM brings children and young adults from around the Bay Area to local farms. The goal is to empower young people to make food choices that will positively impact their long-term health. Knowledge of where food comes from is a powerful tool for teaching good nutrition. Experiencing farms first-hand can inspire young people to become active participants in a sustainable food system as consumers, and even as producers of their own food.

    Calendar of Events


  • Marinnovation
  • Forecasting the Future
  • 28 — 100MARIN
  • Marin Magazine: What Is Vimizim?

    Marin Magazine

    By Jim Wood
    Marin Magazine

    The Buck Institute

    “Created in the late 1980s from the trust of a wealthy Ross couple, Leonard and Beryl Buck, the Buck Institute is an independent research facility whose mission is “to increase the healthy years of life.” Within its walls dozens of world-class scientists work in a collaborative environment to understand how getting older contributes to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart diseases, as well as cancer, stroke, diabetes and glaucoma.

    “The Buck Institute is absolutely an asset to the growth of life science commerce in Marin,” says Robert Eyler, Sonoma State University professor of economics and chief economist for the Marin Economic Forum. “Short of a leading research university, there’s nothing like it between the Golden Gate Bridge and the University of Oregon in Eugene.””

    Read more at Marin Magazine

    Marin Economic Forum Names Jim Cordeiro Chief Executive Officer

    For Immediate Release

    Marin Economic Forum Names
    Jim Cordeiro Chief Executive Officer

    Brings Biotech, Entrepreneurial
    Background to New Post

    Novato—June 7, 2016—The Marin Economic Forum (www.marineconomicforum.org) today announced the appointment of Jim Cordeiro as chief executive officer of the organization which provides data and information to help businesses and supports local governments economic development efforts for sustainable growth.

    Before joining Marin Economic Forum (MEF), Cordeiro co-founded Oceana Technologies and worked as a leading scientist at Nodality, Affymetrix, and other biotechnology and academic organizations.

    “Jim brings a diverse set of skills to us,” said Haden Ongaro, MEF board president and executive vice president of Newmark Cornish & Carey. “While unemployment remains low in the county, we face continuing challenges about how to attract new businesses and how to retain those who have already chosen Marin. Business development is driven by a constant need for data and trend analysis, particularly for businesses looking to expand or to relocate here. Jim’s background in the biotech industry and his entrepreneurial background are perfectly aligned with the Forum’s needs.”

    Founded in 2012, MEF enables Marin’s economic stakeholders to collaborate to improve the County’s economic vitality, focusing on targeted industries while enhancing social equity and protecting the environment.

    “Marin County is an important part of a regional and global economy,” Cordeiro said. “Our companies, particularly in the bio-sciences, have enormous influence beyond our area. As a result, our economy is also impacted by developments and pressures from many different directions. It is important that the businesses in our community have MEF, which collects, analyzes and disseminates information that affects their business and also collaborates with the communities in which their employees reside.”

    MEF works with private sector companies, chambers of commerce, county and municipal governments, educational institutions and organizations supporting workforce employment and consumer groups. Industries targeted by MEF include agriculture, bio/life sciences, tourism and manufacturing.

    “Over the years, MEF has developed a well-deserved reputation for the rigorous nature of its economic research and for its collaboration with Marin businesses and municipalities,” he said. “My experience in the sciences and technology fit nicely with the growth segments of Marin economy. We are constantly working to improve our ability to deliver timely data and information to businesses and local governments as they strive to support sustainable economic development.”

    Cordeiro, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, replaces Steve Lockett, who relocated to North Carolina.

    About Marin Economic Forum

    The Marin Economic Forum (www.marineconomicforum.org) is a nonprofit organization created as a public-private partnership in 2012. The founding sponsors are: Autodesk, Bank of America, City of Novato, County of Marin, Kaiser Permanente and Marin General Hospital. Additional information is available at (415) 483-9332.

    MEF Newsletter May 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    May 2016


    by MEF CEO Jim Cordeiro

    Introducing Jim Cordeiro

    It is with gratitude that I begin my tenure as CEO of the Marin Economic Forum (MEF). Before coming to the MEF, I co-founded Oceana Technologies and worked as a leading scientist at biotechnology and academic organizations. I served on the board of directors for the Pacifica Education Foundation, leading efforts in fund development, 21st century learning and technology. My diverse skill set and strategic management provide the tools to guide business decisions, oversee and participate in all aspects of our community’s needs and wants. I am active in the biotechnology, entrepreneurial and nonprofit communities.

    MEF and its board acts as a source of networking and information about the Marin County economy, and the county’s role and connections in the North Bay. With the support of our Staff, Board of Directors and community, we will continue educating Marin about its economy and communities to strengthen economic vitality.

    MEF “working groups” facilitate us finding out more of what is happening on the front lines in Marin’s economy, and what questions are being asked by local businesses and non-profits. We are fortunate that Marin has an existing robust life-science community, from BioMarin to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and the North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA).

    NBLSA 2016 annual report highlights Growth, Expansion Of Life Science Companies in North Bay Region. The life science Industry segment accounts for more than 10,000 jobs at 90 businesses. With San Francisco hosting the 2016 BIO International Convention in June, we will be well placed to showcase Marin’s accomplishments and advantages, as well as how we fit in the greater San Francisco Bay Area life science cluster.

    A good example of a creative approach to economic growth and sustainable development is the Buck Institute Solar Carport Project. The solar project was five years in the making and owes its success to Ralph O’Rear, a MEF board member, who recently retired as the Buck’s Vice President of Planning and Facilities. Best wishes to Ralph O’Rear in his future endeavors.

    I am grateful for this opportunity at Marin Economic Forum. We will use this platform to go beyond the basics and embrace the 4 C’s –- super skills for the 21st century: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    by Dr. Robert Eyler

    Life Science in Marin County: The Best Hope

    Between June 6 and 10, 2016, thousands of workers and scientists in life sciences are coming to the Bay Area for a global conference called BIO 2016. Over 100 executives from this industry are coming to the Buck Institute to hear more about why Marin County is a place specifically for this industry to grow and thrive. Marin Economic Forum recently produced an annual report on the life-science industry in the North Bay (Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties), where Marin County stands out. It does not have the most workers, but has the most identifiable set of businesses (though Genentech has a campus in Vacaville, Solano County is relatively new to the life science industry), and has assets – such as the Buck Institute –to act as an incubator for commercial science and a research center for learning.

    Marin County has employers that have over 1,900 workers in these businesses. Marin is home to over 3,200 people live in Marin County that work somewhere in the life science industry. Housing prices and the employment growth in this industry show a correlation since 2010, a sign that a growing economy helps housing prices and wealth. The age of these workers are mainly between 30 and 60 years, mainly due to higher educational requirements for scientists, but it is not exclusive. An important point is that as a life-science business grows, it will need sales people, administration, accounting, clerical, and other jobs that spread beyond science and have a wide array of requisite skills and possible wages and job growth.

    As these businesses grow, there are more economic impacts. The multiplier effect for Marin County has grown as Marin County’s recovery from recession has become an expansion. In 2014, Marin Economic Forum showed how one life-science job in Marin County generated over $470,000 worth of business income. One job in life-science supported approximately $473,333 of business revenue in Marin County. As of 2015, due to continued economic recovery, that number grew to approximately $491,000 per job. This seems like a large number and depends on taking the entire county economy into consideration, which is a $22 billion local economy in Marin County alone.

    Furthermore, the entire county economy being involved is important. A job in Novato has an effect on the City of Novato, approximately $250,000 per job. But because other workers live throughout the county and the indirect and induced effects (the “ripple” effects of that job) on other industries spreads its wings to all parts of the county economy, there is an additional $241,000 of business income supported outside of Novato. In some cases, a larger amount of the countywide total will affect just Novato; the $250,000 is an average effect. The key is that life-science jobs that come to any part of the county have an ability to affect the county overall.

    With the new Star Wars movie out on DVD, which is modeled after the first Star Wars movie (which was made to a certain extent here in Marin County), I thought I would write about the life-science industry in that context. The first Star Wars movie was titled precisely: Episode IV, A New Hope. For decades, Marin County has been striving to find a technology industry that will come and stay for a long time. Ironically, the digital film industry (and film’s supply chain, including sound recording) was seen as that in the early 2000s. We may have found that new hope in life-sciences.

    What To Watch

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    Coy Smith, CEO, Novato Chamber of Commerce
    The Voice of Business in Novato

    A long and successful history of fundraising and working with non-profit businesses plus management experience are among the talents that Coy Smith brings to his position as CEO of the Novato Chamber of Commerce. He has been the CEO of the Novato Chamber since 2004. He received his credential as an Accredited Chamber Executive Graduate in 2007 from the Western Association of Chamber Executives. Coy serves on the Economic Development Commission for the City of Novato, and on the Board of Directors of the Marin Economic Forum, the Board of Superior Chamber Executives of Northern California.

    Prior to work in the Chamber field, Coy was employed in several capacities in the recycling industry of over 25 years where he received several state and national awards for his work. During that time he worked for the private sector, government agencies and the non-profit sector in various management capacities to implement recycling programs and policies. Coy was one of fifty individuals in the United States to be selected by President Bill Clinton to serve on a task force to develop a National Recycling Policy. He is one of the founders of the Novato Charter School and has served on numerous local state and national Boards of Directors over the past thirty years.

    Coy has a BS degree from San Jose State University in Environmental Studies with a minor in Communications. He is married and lives in Petaluma with his two sons.

    Novato Chamber Of Commerce — Home of Novato’s Festival of Art, Wine & Music

    Founded in 1915 the Novato Chamber of Commerce has been a steadfast resource to the North Bay community for over 100 Years. The Chamber has a long history dedicated to service and advocating for business-friendly practices. However, even as the principle business advocate group in Novato, one of the Chamber’s primary missions has always been to promote the community.

    Throughout its 100 year history the Chamber has been instrumental in promoting the community. Less than fifteen years after its inception, the nation was hurled into the depths of the Great Depression. To mitigate the effects the Novato Chamber of Commerce drove in rail cars full of supplies and shelter for the struggling families of the North Bay. The Chamber would eventually endorse a major building project that would transform Bay Area economics forever. In the ‘30s and ‘40s the Chamber would be one of the first and only organizations to secure the bond measure for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Today the Novato Chamber of Commerce continues to support the community with large-scale community events. Every June the Chamber hosts Novato’s Festival of Art, Wine & Music; this annual festival has captivated residents and visitors for over thirty years. This is the largest free festival in the County with over 80,000 attendees. Boasting over two-dozen varietals of wine and dozen varieties of beer, this festival draws in huge crowds. Along with its many art vendors and margarita booths, there are two fully booked, live music stages. The Chamber’s festival takes great pride in bringing the community out and together for a weekend of fun celebration.

    This year the Festival takes place on June 11 and 12 in downtown Novato on Grant Ave. You can find out more about the Festival at www.novatoartwinemusic.com

    The Novato Chamber of Commerce has proudly served the region for over 100 years. By supporting the Novato Chamber, you support an organization that stands for community and an organization that is dedicated to the improvement and sustainability of the North Bay.

    Calendar of Events


  • 11-12 — Novato Art & Wine Festival
  • 29 — NBBJ Women in Business Awards
  • July

  • 6 — Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • MEF Newsletter April 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    April 2016

    Perspectives by MEF CEO Robert Eyler
    Getting SMARTer about housing in Marin County

    In 2008, I was lucky enough to be asked to help the proponents of the Sonoma-Marin AREA Rapid Transit or SMART Rail system consider the financial aspects of asking both Marin and Sonoma counties to add a $0.25 sales tax to fund a new way to get to work and to get around these two counties. The new tax was passed in the 2008 election and the work has been ongoing to build the infrastructure. In 2016, there will be service between the Sonoma County Airport and Larkspur Landing, allowing most of the two counties’ population to use a rail alternative to single-driver car travel to and from work.

    Transportation and housing are intrinsically linked with each other. This is why mass transit usually ends up where there are masses of people. In this month’s edition of the MEF newsletter, I want to make some points about local housing options and some considerations. There is a theoretical way to understand housing and all the players inside Marin County. A housing continuum is an idea that people can slide up and down a continuum of choices. Here are two ways to see such a continuum:

  • (1) A general continuum. Homelessness is a polar end of this continuum. Homeownership is the other side of the continuum. The idea here is that ownership builds wealth and does not simply provide a roof for rent, as the choices between these bookends imply. It may be a contestable argument that the goal of the random resident is to own someday, but the economics of homeownership still provide more benefits than rental, especially in the after-tax case (due to wealth building and the tax advantages, and the inclusion of housing services that would also come from rental).
  • (2) A specific continuum. A segment of the general continuum in (1), once rental (and in special cases homeownership) is subsidized; the more intriguing categorizations begin because public subsidies are based on specific criteria that change as incomes changes versus rental prices.
  • Affordable housing is a definition for housing that suggests a subsidy may help lower the cost of housing to at least 30 percent of household income for a tenant. People tend to conflate “affordable” as a label for any subsidized housing. True affordable housing is at the lowest end of the spectrum of subsidized come from to help reduce housing costs. This is where most of the social action is in terms of housing because this is where the income mix includes those that are on governmental assistance, working in low-wage jobs, and otherwise living on the edge or in poverty. This is also where homelessness and transition housing end and more “stable” housing begins. Fair housing is meant to keep housing affordable, and is related to the general idea of “affordable” housing.

    Workforce Housing is probably the most contested definition within the housing continuum. There is a federal definition for people earning between 80 and 100 percent of the median household income in a defined area (depending on who you ask). If a housing unit is designated for workforce housing, it is usually based on the federal definition, and not on the current employment status of the tenant. Because the range of income possibilities is generally from 80-100 percent of local median income, we can assume the large proportion of those that qualify for workforce housing (if labeled as such and available) are actually working and earning an income level necessary to creep toward the median or just above it. The employment status is not a factor, the income is, which makes the debate around “workforce” housing trickier. Another definition is when an employer provides housing directly as a fringe benefit to the employee (many universities and larger employers do this as a way to reduce wage ascension and/or keep the workforce close to the workplace for production efficiencies/necessities).

    Market-Priced Housing is exactly what it says: supply and demand together determines the price.

    For commuters, we assume that the housing prices faced elsewhere (outside Marin County) provide an incentive for these workers to live elsewhere and come into Marin County for work. The SMART rail system is meant to link population centers in Sonoma County to points in Marin County, and ultimately connect to San Francisco. Time will tell if new housing is built, and where it lies on the specific continuum discussed here, but we should assume more housing will be needed as population grows and employment opportunities do also.

    What To Watch

    MARINOVATORS showcases the innovation and creativity of
    Marin County student scientists, engineers, designers and MAKERS. These
    projects demonstrate our student’s ability to apply their knowledge of Science,
    Technology, Engineering, Arts/Digital Design and Math in the real world.

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    College of Marin Academic Center, Kentfield

    Click Here To Register

    First 5 Marin’s Annual Policy Breakfast
    Friday May 13, 2016

    Embassy Suites
    101 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael 94903
    No fee to attend, complimentary Continental Breakfast

    Join us for an important community discussion about race, ethnicity and inequity in Marin Count, and the impact on our children. We are planning an interactive event and we invite you to join the conversation. Our program will be moderated by Johnathan Logan from the Marin Community Foundation.

    Click Here for Information and Registration

    Feature Article


    Nina H. Gardner, J.D.

    100MARIN Awards $35K to Wednesday’s Gift; $4K to Runners-Up

    Novato, CA, March 10th, 2016 – Marin’s premier giving circle, 100+ People Who Care: Marin County (100MARIN), hosted its Spring 2016 event on Thursday, March 10th, from 6-8PM, at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA.

    With close to 300 attendees and 350 total givers, 100MARIN’s top award of $35K went to Wednesday’s Gift, a program that provides emergency, one-time assistance to individuals and families in crisis.

    “Wednesday’s Gift would like to thank 100+ People Who Care: Marin County for their generous gift. You have provided a boost that will allow us to increase the number of people we help throughout Marin County,” said Wednesday’s Gift’s Board Secretary, Aileen Wormwood. “With these funds, we plan to forge stronger partnerships with Marin’s social services, so that we can keep despair at bay for those who need help staying in their homes or providing food for their families. 100MARIN’s gift will help to widen our circle, foster more kindness and compassion towards those in need, and allow us to offer services to more local individuals and families. 100MARIN has helped us ‘Be the change we want to see in the world.’ Thank you for this great honor!”

    The event was hosted by CORE, a local group of business professionals, the members of which have a shared passion for Marin County and its non-profit community. The evening’s marquee sponsors were Pacific Union International and International ProInsurance.

    The presenting non-profits were as follows:

  • Animals/Environment: Marin County Bicycle Coalition
  • Health/Human Services: Wednesday’s Gift
  • Arts/Culture/Humanities: Novato Theater
  • Children/Education: Marin County School Volunteers
  • Public Benefit: ExtraFood.org
  • And through the generosity of the following additional sponsors, each of the 4 runners up was awarded $1,000:

  • Hennessy Funds
  • Alta Employment Law
  • Out of the Woods Custom Cabinetry
  • Do Your Thing, bookkeeping and strategy for creative daredevils
  • The event’s format was as follows: 5 non-profit organizations each gave timed 4-minute presentations during which they shared their mission, vision, need, and impact in Marin. All attendees were then asked to vote for their favorite presentation, at which point the votes were tallied, and Wednesday’s Gift was announced as the winner.

    David Haydon of Il Davide catered the event and Frank Family Vineyards, Starry Night Winery, VIAS IMPORTS LTD, and A.L. Romano Wine Company all poured wine.

    This event comes on the heels of 100MARIN’s inaugural year, during which the circle members awarded roughly $60K to local non-profits in 2015.

    CORE’s Vice President and principal of Portico Wealth Advisors, Jonathan Leidy, emceed the evening, and said the following:

    “100MARIN just continues to grow, and with that growth comes bigger and bigger impact within Marin County.

    We now have over 200 full-time members and a host of additional supporters. Together, we are all making a difference, each leveraging our $100 donations to create a truly meaningful gift for one local nonprofit.”

    For more information about 100MARIN or the most recent event please contact Nina Gardner, nina@filice.com or 415-717-8583.

    About 100MARIN

    100MARIN is Marin County’s premier giving circle. Founded in 2015 by members of the local professional development 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, the group has given away roughly $102K to deserving Marin County non-profits, and is the official philanthropic outreach arm of the Marin Economic Forum. More information about 100MARIN can be found at www.100MARIN.org.

    About Wednesday’s Gift

    Helping people any way they can is the motto at Wednesday’s Gift. They provide one-time, emergency assistance for individuals and families in need, without delay. Special emphasis is placed on provisioning their clients with necessities, like food, clothing, and shelter. In providing this one-time, “no questions asked” aid, Wednesday’s Gift is helping to fill the gap between social services and the ongoing programs provided by other non-profits. More information about Wednesday’s Gift can be found at www.wednesdaysgift.org.

    About “100 People”

    The “100 People” giving model was reportedly started in November 2006 by Karen Dunigan of Jackson, MI, as a simple way to raise money for local charities. There are now reportedly hundreds of “100 People” giving circles throughout the United States, including 7 in California: Central Coast, Napa Valley, San Louis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley, and Ventura County. More information about the “100 People” model can be found at www.100wwc.org.

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Calendar of Events


  • 30 — Marinnovators – www.eventbrite.com
  • May

  • 4 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 4 — Technology Entrepreneur’s Meeting
  • 13 — First 5 Marin Policy Breakfast – www.facebook.com
  • MEF Newsletter March 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    March 2016

    Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
    Signs of Progress

    This month I’d like to briefly highlight two examples of how our economy in Marin continues to grow and progress. The first is the recent testing of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) commuter train in San Rafael. On March 4th, 2016, a two-car SMART train arrived at the San Rafael station. This was a sight not seen in San Rafael for several decades. Over the coming months SMART will be undergoing testing up and down its 70 mile corridor. The Marin Economic Forum is pleased to be involved on a number of SMART working groups, and we will be providing important updates on our website as they occur. When SMART begins operations later this year it will certainly impact our local and regional economy, and we will be working with our partners to promote the usage of SMART by Marin workers, visitors and travelers. For updates and progress reports please visit www.sonomamarintrain.org.

    I’d also like to highlight EO Products, the San Rafael-based company that produces personal care products with natural ingredients. EO Products is a great example of a successful Marin-based business that is continuing to grow. The company is looking to upgrade and expand its facilities in San Rafael over the coming years in order to hire upwards of 200 more employees! In addition to its business success, EO Products exemplifies the Marin ideals of community engagement as well as sustainable manufacturing. It is important to take the time to recognize our local businesses that are engaged with our community and working to improve the economic vitality of Marin through expansion and job creation. MEF congratulates EO Products on its continued success!

    MEF Chief Economist Update

    Peak Oil and the Oil Peek — By Dr. Robert Eyler

    I actually saw someone clapping at the gas station due to prices that were under $2 a gallon recently, and (of course) those prices went away again. Oil has a wild history in the United States and in world affairs since the automobile was invented, adopted, and spread throughout the world as a mode of transport. The violence by which people and markets have pursued oil interests is well known. In Marin County, many environmental groups focus on peak oil (the idea that we are reaching a global peak of oil reserves that may tip society to a place of adopting new technologies or devolving due to our insatiable appetite for oil and gasoline) as coming attractions when oil prices rise and stay high. Marin County is probably one of the most politically-active places about global petroleum markets per capita, and has some of the highest gas prices of any non-urban area in California.

    However, when oil prices drop, there is a direct effect on gasoline prices, and most people directly interact with a commodity called West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil at the pump. Gas prices can take only a wild psychological quality that for an economist creates a simple smile, but can lead to some wild decision-making. When oil prices are moving, and gas prices move with it, we get a real peek at both how those markets work and also how society works. Why do we queue up at gas stations that are 10 cents less a gallon for gas when two other stations down the street have just as good of gas to put in the car and would cost $3-$4 more and not spend 30 minutes waiting for savings. The Costco gas lines in Rohnert Park are a good social experiment on any given Sunday.

    There are confounding effects for businesses and governments when gas prices fall. Commuters get a price break, almost like a tax break, which is good for low-wage workers that drive to work. This can mean more people driving rather than carpooling, until natural traffic conditions increase the cost of commuting alone. For businesses, more commuting means less productivity due to being in traffic; using public transportation with good wifi can change that. However, businesses that use oil and gas as inputs (transportation, delivery, and construction are examples) also get a price break. The lower gas prices can also reduce wage demands; when gas prices rise violently, lower-wage workers see the gains above disappear quickly. Generally, society loves lower gas prices, given the last 15 years of prices structurally rising.

    The public sector gets hurts on both costs and revenues when gas prices fall. Revenue from the gas taxes fall because they are based on dollar consumption; when prices fall, you spend less at the pump and the tax revenues are less also. That reduces the resources available to fix roads and bridges. At the same time, lower gas prices imply more driving and thus more wear and tear on our roads and bridges and general public infrastructure around driving. Government costs then rise. This is parallel to gains like any other business in terms of what government pays for oil and gas, but most elected officials and their staffs will tell you the public sector hurts from lower gas prices.

    As spring continues to show itself in 2016 and we start to drive more on vacation and due to good weather, we should also remember that the currently low gas prices are just that: current. The Chinese economy rebounding and global oil production adjusting may force (along with rising demand nationally) higher prices. The hope is our adoption of new technologies and less fossil-fuel use will structurally change demand; the cruel paradox is that this creates lower price levels and provides a peek at the above effects.

    What To Watch

    “Background Checks” — by Les Rosen, Esq.

    Employee problems are caused by problem employees.” Attorney Lester Rosen will provide a number of real-world case studies where employers stepped on legal landmines that could have been easily avoided with a safe hiring program. Mr. Rosen is a nationally recognized expert on safe hiring and pre-employment background checks. Previously, he was a criminal trial lawyer in Marin County. He is the author of “The Safe Hiring Manual – the Complete Guide to Employment Screening Background Checks for Employers, Recruiters and Jobseekers.”

    Thursday March 24, 2016
    5:00 – 7:00 PM
    Drake’s Landing Community Room
    300 Drakes Landing Road in Greenbrae
    The Community Room is adjacent to Jason’s restaurant.

    Presented by Roxanne Cornejo
    California Deputy Labor Commissioner

    The Marin Employment Connection (MEC) is offering a no-cost workshop for local employers on new regulations for wage and hour issues for 2016.

    Topics include:

  • Update to Paid Sick Leave in California
  • California Fair Pay Act
  • Wage and Hour – Most challenging issues
  • April 6, 2016

    Marin Economic Forum- Downstairs Conference Room
    555 Northgate Dr., San Rafael 94903

    Saturday, April 30, 2016
    Marin County Office of Education
    and College of Marin — Kentfield

    Click Here To View Past Newsletters

    Board Corner

    Jacqueline Freeman Christensen
    Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager
    City National Bank – Royal Bank of Canada
    Commercial Banking, San Francisco North Bay Market

    Since 2010 Jacqueline has been a board member of the Marin Economic Forum (MEF). As a board member she was the chair for the Finance Industry working group, member of the Nominating Committee and Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate working group. Just recently she became Treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee.

    Jacqueline chose to become a member of MEF to participate in the economic growth and improvement of the county. She lives and works in Marin and wants to help in whatever way she can to see improvement and believes that MEF is the vehicle communicate and get this message out there.

    In addition, Jacqueline has been a member of the Tiburon-Belvedere Rotary as former Secretary, former Treasurer and President Elect. She was formerly on the Board of the San Francisco LEAD (Leadership, Education Advocacy Development) for Women.

    Jacqueline had recently retired from 36 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch where she served as a SVP & Senior Relationship Manager supporting Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. She managed a seasoned portfolio of commercial clients with annual revenues $10 million to $100 million. Jacqueline’s careers with Bank of America included management and sales positions in Consumer Banking, Private Banking, Corporate Real Estate and Commercial Banking.

    Following her retirement, she was made an offer she could not refuse in again working with her former manager; Rod Banks, EVP Head of Commercial Banking for City National Bank – Royal Bank of Canada as of August 2015. As a Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking Middle Market, Jacqueline manages commercial relationships of companies with annual revenues that range from $25 – $350 million. Jacqueline is the primary bank advocate and key financial advisor for the client; accountable for new business and enhancing existing relationships. In this position she advises companies on their various commercial banking needs; credit, treasury management, 401k, leasing, merchant services, sale or purchase of company, to name a few.

    Jacqueline has been a top producer rated in the top 5% of the 600 Commercial Client Managers in the nation for 5 years. She enjoys giving back to her community, through organizations, events and volunteering. She lives in Novato with her husband Dr. Robert Christensen. She enjoys cooking to relax and they both enjoy travel, golf, tennis, walking and riding bikes.

    Calendar of Events


  • 16 — Labor Commission Workshop
  • 24 — Marin Business Forum Event — “Background Checks” by Les Rosen, Esq.
  • April

  • 6 — Construction Development Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • 30 — Marinovators