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
    10am-3:00pm

    College of Marin Academic Center, Kentfield

    Click Here To Register


    First 5 Marin’s Annual Policy Breakfast
    Friday May 13, 2016
    8:30am-10:30am

    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

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Nina H. Gardner, J.D.
    President
    CORE
    415.717.8583
    nina@filice.com

    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

    April

  • 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.


    ASK THE LABOR COMMISSIONER
    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
    9:00am-10:30am

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


    Saturday, April 30, 2016
    10am-3:00pm
    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

    March

  • 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
  • Sync or Swim Blog Series #6

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education

    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    MARINOVATORS

    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 MCOE 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 — marinovators.org.

    Teachers please contact Dane Lancaster by email at dane@marinschools.org

    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: www.100MARIN.org 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: ExtraFood.org

    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
    415.717.8583
    nina@filice.com

    Calendar of Events

    March

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

    April

    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

    MARINOVATORS

    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 — marinovators.org.

    Teachers please contact Dane Lancaster by email at dane@marinschools.org

    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.

    MEF Newsletter January 2016

    MEF Newsletter

    January 2016


    Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
    Economic Outlook for 2016

    Happy New Year! I hope all of you are having a good start to 2016.

    I’m sure everyone is interested at how the economy looks for the upcoming year. We should be seeing a global economy that will be a challenge, which may affect interest rates and housing prices. However, Marin County has a good outlook for 2016. Marin is a destination for both residents (housing demand) and also for life-sciences businesses. In 2016 there will be a number of socioeconomic and political issues that may dominate the local policy scene, but may also have some dampening effects on the economy due to general uncertainty. These issues include, but are not limited to, the continued California drought, the presidential election, and the potential legalization of marijuana and other 2016 ballot measures, just to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about the economic outlook for 2016, please come to the Marin Business Forum event “State of the Economy: Thinking about Economic and Social Issues as 2016 Unfolds,” on January 21st, 2016, from 5 PM to 7PM. For more information and registration, please go the MBF’s event page.

    Last week I was honored to be able to speak at a Marin Coalition luncheon about the economic outlook for 2016. The Marin Coalition, now in its 41st year, works to protect and improve the economic, social, and environmental welfare of Marin County. It was a wonderful event with a very engaged audience. Many of the audience questions were around the environment, economic growth in Marin, and the on-going housing and transportation issues. If you would like to view a recording of the event, please check out the Marin Coalition YouTube page.

    Before we completely leave behind 2015, I would like to highlight the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) 23rd Annual Heart of Marin™ Awards, which was held on January 7th, 2016. These awards recognize outstanding nonprofits and the committed individuals who serve them. This year nearly 900 people gathered at the ceremony to recognize the nominees and winners in eight categories. I would like to thank Linda Davis, CEO of CVNL, and all of the CVNL staff for putting together such a fabulous event. I highly recommend everyone take a look at the Heart of Marin™ page to see all the winners and nominees.

    Best wishes to everyone for a prosperous start to 2016, and as always, thank you for your interest, engagement and participation with Marin Economic Forum.

    What To Watch

    State of the Economy

    “Thinking about Economic and Social Issues as 2016 Unfolds”

    Thursday January 21, 2016 from 5 PM to 7 PM
    Where: Wood Island, 80 East Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur map

    Marin Economic Forum Chief Economist Dr. Robert Eyler will provide a brief overview of the global, national, state and regional economy as 2016 unfolds. Part of the economic forecast is what social and political issues are coming up for the state of California and Marin County in 2016 as we face major elections in June and November. Topics will consider the effects of raising the minimum wage from $10 (effective Jan 1, 2016 in California) to perhaps $15 in Marin County, issues of rent control, the beginning of SMART rail, and continued concerns over local talent all are brewing. Rob will engage the crowd a bit in this discussion, as there are no easy answers but we will also be asked to find some answers (or fund some) soon.

    Personal Tribute

    John Starr, 1965-2016

    Radiolands, Founder and CEO; Chapter Director for Startup Grind North Bay; Actor, Producer and Entrepreneur

    It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend and colleague John Starr. He passed away on Saturday evening, January 9, 2016.

    A San Anselmo resident, John worked in the San Francisco Bay Area Entertainment and Technology fields for more than 20 years. He helped start two venture-funded tech companies, managed computer networks for several large non-profits, taught computer skills to journalists, and produced or acted in many media projects. His voice can be heard on commercials, corporate narrations and award-winning children’s audio books.

    John volunteered his time as Chapter Director for Startup Grind North Bay, an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs. He was always pushing entrepreneurship to the next level and was dedicated to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in the startup business community.”

    John was also a loyal member of the Marin Economic Forum’s Technology Entrepreneurs Group, bringing his passion for entrepreneurial endeavors to our community with his exuberance, passion and knowledge. We are thankful for his contributions and the opportunity to work with him; he will be missed by all.

    Our community sends caring thoughts to his family. May they find solace during this difficult time.

    Feature Article
    Chris Stewart
    City of Novato, Economic Development Manager
    MEF Executive Board Member

    The Life Science industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the US and continues to grow by more than 10% each year. The North Bay region continues to grow and advance biomedical innovation and to bring new medical advances to patients.

    Led by Christopher Stewart, Chairman and CEO, the North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA) is a group of life science professionals, educators and public leaders working together to build awareness of the North Bay region’s many advantages as a location for companies operating in the Life Sciences industry. The Alliance was formed in 2014 with funding from the City of Novato and in-kind support from The Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

    As well as marketing the region as a relocation destination for life science companies, the NBLSA assists and advocates for the region’s established biotech companies. This assistance has resulted in major impacts, including helping Novato-based Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc to secure $2.1 million in California tax credits.

    Since the inception of NBLSA, the region has seen a 600% increase in life science jobs from a ten year trend of 50 new life science positions a year to 350 in 2014/2015, boosting the local economy by an estimated $100.8 million annually.

    NBLSA has big plans for 2016, including a presence, along with Marin Economic Forum, at BIO 2016, the global event for biotechnology, which takes place from June 06-09, 2016 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco. After the convention, the NBLSA is running a Tour of the North Bay to introduce executives from 80 international life science companies to the region, which will include an orientation tour, presentations at The Buck Institute, and a chance to network with local company executives.

    The Alliance is also planning a direct marketing campaign to promote the region to life science executives in San Francisco and the South Bay, where biotech start ups and SMEs are being squeezed out of commercial properties by rent increases fuelled by the growing technology sector. The NBLSA, in association with Marin Economic Forum, aims to communicate that there are vacant properties, lab space, world-class research facilities and a vibrant and growing industry cluster here in the North Bay, where commercial properties are available at an average of 38% less than San Francisco Metro rents.

    Established companies are motivated to relocate to the North Bay for its attractive blend of location and lifestyle. The North Bay provides easy access to the city of San Francisco, excellent transportation infrastructure and is central positioning between UC San Francisco, UC Davis and UC Berkeley, and many are attracted to the Northern California climate and beautiful natural landscape offered by the region.

    Find out more at www.nblsa.com or by contacting Christopher Stewart at 415.899.8902

    Calendar of Events

    January

  • 21 — Marin Business Forum Event — Dr. Eyler presents “State of the Economy 2016”
  • 25 — CA Competes Tax Credit Application Deadline — business.ca.gov
  • February

  • 3 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 3 — Technology Entrepreneurs Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • March

  • 3 — San Rafael State of the City Dinner — details here
  • Sync or Swim Series #5

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

    Interview with Zack Karlsson, CEO & Director, ChangeMyPath, Education Technology

    Given that the Digital Education Industry Market Size is approximately worth $51.5 Billion, (according to the Ambient Insight Research) and that “Gamification” processes are effectively being used by the corporate world to train employees at Apple, Oracle, Twitter, Salesforce and other large firms, it seemed worth exploring if any local companies were focused on this nexus.

    So, I attended a nearby BASN (Bay Area Startup Network) and US Angel Investors and met David Mandel, a very successful serial entrepreneur and seed investor, who had launched an exciting new education start-up called ChangeMyPath. He introduced to his CEO and fellow Board Member Zack Karlsson, with whom I conducted the below interview.

    Michael: What’s your background in the video game business?

    Zack: I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years starting out at the bottom as a Game Master for EverQuest and worked my way up to VP at Capcom (market cap $1.2B) and have held senior positions at independent developers like Double Fine and big gaming industry publishers like Namco. By trade, I’m a Business Development guy. I’ve built a career on being a games guy on the business side of things.

    Michael: How did Change My Path come about?

    Zack: My co-founder, David Mandel, came to me looking for a CEO for a startup he was trying to put together. David is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor but with no experience in games and he wanted to put together a company around a gaming concept that he had developed with his daughter and the person who is now our co-founder and CTO, Stephen Williams. David and I spent a month or so trying to find a way that I was excited about the concept and just couldn’t find it, but through the process, we found a really nice working relationship and thought we could do something cool.

    David asked me if I could do anything with my next career, without limitation, what would it be? I had heard a talk, years ago, by Ted Price on the future of games and what the world may look like 10 years from now with games as a focus. Ted was bold — it wasn’t the same old talk about BRIC, digital distribution, free-to-play etc. It was audacious and wonderful and inspired me. I spent the next couple years refining my retirement idea: When I was old and didn’t need money, what would I do with my free time? This was it. I pitched it to David and, somewhat surprisingly, he was convinced. We looped in Stephen as CTO to help us flesh out the tech and parts of the concept, and we were off to the races. It’s an idea that I thought was too big and too crazy for someone else to jump in on, but David saw the dream and then we got Stephen hooked, and we set about making it happen.

    Michael: What have the power of smartphones and tablets opened up for you?

    Zack: It has given us the ability to deliver digital content to anyone anywhere, but more importantly, it’s given us a broader general market in which to compete. It’s allowed people who never self-identified as gamers and let them participate in entertainment that isn’t strictly one-way. It’s given us a challenge on user interface design — gone are the days when you had a 13 button controller to design around, now you have to think about touch, 3D, motion sensing, Augmented Reality, and a litany of input devices. The most important thing for us is the ubiquity of smartphones. For CMP, we can reach anyone, anywhere, at a time that is convenient for them.

    Michael: How are you using gamification with Change My Path?

    Zack: Gamification for us is split into two parts. 1) Taking educational content and making it engaging and fun. There is a wealth of experience in this particular endeavor from the old Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego games I used to play as a kid to the content done by Broderbund, The Learning Company, and many others. The question hasn’t yet been answered if this kind of content can be educationally transformative. In other words, does it leave a lasting impact on peoples’ lives? Could it? We think it can. We think that the content has, with no offense intended to others in the space, been designed primarily by educators rather than entertainers.

    Everything we know about learning is that it works best when people are engaged and yet, we think it perfectly natural, as adults, to pay tuition to an institution of higher learning and, once the tuition is paid, it becomes our job to learn rather than their job to teach. The engagement factor goes to 0. What happens when content gets subjected to an open market, where people get to make decisions about learning that engages them first? Where the content isn’t simply a lecture and a quiz?

    We live in an age with some incredible interactive entertainment but so little of that content has peripheral learning engaged, or value beyond simply being entertaining. There is virtue in pure entertainment, but there is also virtue in using the skills we have learned as an industry to help bring someone job skills or knowledge that will help them better their lives. And 2) It is about taking the process of the consumption of educational content and adding gamification to it.

    This is not particularly innovative, but it has, to my knowledge, not been done well before. There are some parts of this that exist in different platforms that are out there, but most of those platforms fall short on understanding the motivation loop that is the foundation and driver of the gaming industry: action, value, outcome. In our example, taking a class is the action, learning something is the value, but where is the outcome? Most of us don’t learn just to learn — it’s a noble pursuit, learning for learning’s sake, but it’s a conceit primarily reserved for the privileged. Most of us take a class so we can learn something so we can get a job, a promotion, or benefit our career. We may be one of the first to take classic gaming compulsion loops and apply it to progression through content that has secondary value.

    Continue Reading

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #5

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education

    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Interview with Zack Karlsson, CEO & Director, ChangeMyPath, Education Technology

    Given that the Digital Education Industry Market Size is approximately worth $51.5 Billion, (according to the Ambient Insight Research) and that “Gamification” processes are effectively being used by the corporate world to train employees at Apple, Oracle, Twitter, Salesforce and other large firms, it seemed worth exploring if any local companies were focused on this nexus.

    So, I attended a nearby BASN (Bay Area Startup Network) and US Angel Investors and met David Mandel, a very successful serial entrepreneur and seed investor, who had launched an exciting new education start-up called ChangeMyPath. He introduced to his CEO and fellow Board Member Zack Karlsson, with whom I conducted the below interview.

    Michael: What’s your background in the video game business?

    Zack: I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years starting out at the bottom as a Game Master for EverQuest and worked my way up to VP at Capcom (market cap $1.2B) and have held senior positions at independent developers like Double Fine and big gaming industry publishers like Namco. By trade, I’m a Business Development guy. I’ve built a career on being a games guy on the business side of things.

    Michael: How did Change My Path come about?

    Zack: My co-founder, David Mandel, came to me looking for a CEO for a startup he was trying to put together. David is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor but with no experience in games and he wanted to put together a company around a gaming concept that he had developed with his daughter and the person who is now our co-founder and CTO, Stephen Williams. David and I spent a month or so trying to find a way that I was excited about the concept and just couldn’t find it, but through the process, we found a really nice working relationship and thought we could do something cool.

    David asked me if I could do anything with my next career, without limitation, what would it be? I had heard a talk, years ago, by Ted Price on the future of games and what the world may look like 10 years from now with games as a focus. Ted was bold — it wasn’t the same old talk about BRIC, digital distribution, free-to-play etc. It was audacious and wonderful and inspired me. I spent the next couple years refining my retirement idea: When I was old and didn’t need money, what would I do with my free time? This was it. I pitched it to David and, somewhat surprisingly, he was convinced. We looped in Stephen as CTO to help us flesh out the tech and parts of the concept, and we were off to the races. It’s an idea that I thought was too big and too crazy for someone else to jump in on, but David saw the dream and then we got Stephen hooked, and we set about making it happen.

    Michael: What have the power of smartphones and tablets opened up for you?

    Zack: It has given us the ability to deliver digital content to anyone anywhere, but more importantly, it’s given us a broader general market in which to compete. It’s allowed people who never self-identified as gamers and let them participate in entertainment that isn’t strictly one-way. It’s given us a challenge on user interface design — gone are the days when you had a 13 button controller to design around, now you have to think about touch, 3D, motion sensing, Augmented Reality, and a litany of input devices. The most important thing for us is the ubiquity of smartphones. For CMP, we can reach anyone, anywhere, at a time that is convenient for them.

    Michael: How are you using gamification with Change My Path?

    Zack: Gamification for us is split into two parts. 1) Taking educational content and making it engaging and fun. There is a wealth of experience in this particular endeavor from the old Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego games I used to play as a kid to the content done by Broderbund, The Learning Company, and many others. The question hasn’t yet been answered if this kind of content can be educationally transformative. In other words, does it leave a lasting impact on peoples’ lives? Could it? We think it can. We think that the content has, with no offense intended to others in the space, been designed primarily by educators rather than entertainers.

    Everything we know about learning is that it works best when people are engaged and yet, we think it perfectly natural, as adults, to pay tuition to an institution of higher learning and, once the tuition is paid, it becomes our job to learn rather than their job to teach. The engagement factor goes to 0. What happens when content gets subjected to an open market, where people get to make decisions about learning that engages them first? Where the content isn’t simply a lecture and a quiz?

    We live in an age with some incredible interactive entertainment but so little of that content has peripheral learning engaged, or value beyond simply being entertaining. There is virtue in pure entertainment, but there is also virtue in using the skills we have learned as an industry to help bring someone job skills or knowledge that will help them better their lives. And 2) It is about taking the process of the consumption of educational content and adding gamification to it.

    This is not particularly innovative, but it has, to my knowledge, not been done well before. There are some parts of this that exist in different platforms that are out there, but most of those platforms fall short on understanding the motivation loop that is the foundation and driver of the gaming industry: action, value, outcome. In our example, taking a class is the action, learning something is the value, but where is the outcome? Most of us don’t learn just to learn — it’s a noble pursuit, learning for learning’s sake, but it’s a conceit primarily reserved for the privileged. Most of us take a class so we can learn something so we can get a job, a promotion, or benefit our career. We may be one of the first to take classic gaming compulsion loops and apply it to progression through content that has secondary value.

    Michael: Who’s your target audience for this app?

    Zack: Anyone who wants to learn a new skill. Our first foray as we build this platform will be focused on nursing. We chose it mainly because we felt that we needed to prove efficacy right away. Nursing has a certification board exam that is required before you become a nurse and we wanted to have a hard metric that we could use to prove that we were helping people build the right knowledge and skills.

    After that initial test, we’ll roll it out to other job skills. We are focusing on people that might be looking for a career path that doesn’t require them to run up $60K in debt in order to obtain a degree that doesn’t actually deliver them job skills that help them start a career. Maybe it’s a single mom who wants to get out of food service but can’t leave her day job in order to attend school and doesn’t have the time for night school while she raises her children. Maybe it’s a man stuck in a dead end job that has the motivation but not the means to attend a technical college. Maybe it’s a young man or woman who doesn’t know what they want to do quite yet, but they know that they want to get a job that pays reasonably well and don’t want to rack up 20 years worth of debt in the process.

    This is about making education affordable again and attempting to divorce the legitimacy of education from an antiquated brick and mortar building where your money is going into manicured lawns and marble buildings instead of curriculum development and skills training. Further, we can use mobile analytics and data modeling to refine our content on a much more immediate basis instead of whenever the “new” textbook that your Sociology professor wrote gets reprinted at $150 a pop.

    Michael: What type of reception have you had from VCs thus far?

    Zack: Generally positive. This idea is big and scary and that’s intimidating for some. Some wanted to see more proof that we can do what we say we can do. But we’ve had others that saw the vision and wanted to participate in re-engineering the American Dream and making it accessible again for the middle class. We didn’t need everyone to believe, we just needed the first one. Once that happened, we started the business of making education accessible.

    Michael: What are your short-term goals for this app?

    Zack: We think that BarBri has a great model. They teach want-to-be lawyers how to pass the bar. We’d like to teach want-to-be nurses to pass the NCLEX. By aiding in the acquisition and retention of crucial information, we’ll improve the quality of health care and the quality of nurses coming into the system.

    Michael: Where do you see your company five years from now?

    Zack: Ideally, I’d love to see us expand to all sorts of job and skills training, anything from mechanics and plumbers, to hair stylists and paralegals and corporate job training. In particular, I get excited when I think about where technology and this concept enables us to go. Specifically, I love the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality.

    Since Lawnmower Man and the Star Trek holodeck, I have always thought about where education could really find a home in these kinds of devices and experiences. We also have an opportunity to explore some long tail curricula — nowadays, the interest level has to be sufficient to support a full class at every institution who takes on a particular subject matter, but digitally, we can find critical mass in a distributed fashion so things that couldn’t be taught before, because it wasn’t efficient enough, could be taught now.

    The fringes of the applications of this platform are really interesting to me — what if, as a way to directly reduce recidivism in ex-cons returning to society, we gave them a skill, a trade, as a condition of parole. Study after study has shown that a major driving cause of recidivism is the inability to find work upon re-entry. What does it do to poor communities where crime is prevalent to reduce recidivism by 10 or 20%? What does it do to those same communities when you can help educate young women who have, historically speaking, always been the driver behind breaking the cycle of poverty?

    Where do I see us? The internet is ubiquitous now, even in developing countries. In my dreams, I see us changing the nature of poor communities across the US and elsewhere in the world, bringing education and job skills to people that need it. Realistically speaking, if we just do it for 1 person at a time, that is progress. I don’t know how many it will take until critical mass helps those communities shift out of direct poverty, but I’ll bet it’s fewer people than have played Candy Crush. I don’t think that’s too crazy of a goal.

    Michael: What opportunities do you see new micro-consoles and other technology that’s connecting mobile devices to the big screen TV opening up for apps like this?

    Zack: This really isn’t our focus. I think micro-consoles are interesting, but it’s just shifting where the computing power sits. Whether it be in your home or in the cloud, the key to the home and to peoples’ attention is the quality of the content. Most people don’t care deeply about the platform they’re using to access that content, unless it specifically requires an interface or input that isn’t available somewhere else. In our industry, I think we get too caught up in platform rhetoric and lose sight of the fact that content is king.

    In the education world, this lesson has been particularly slow to take root. Hopefully, that is not for much longer.

    Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Napa make list of top-performing cities

    By James Dunn

    Santa Rosa ranked No. 25 and San Rafael No. 23 on a 2015 index by the Milken Institute of best-performing large cities on job growth, wage gains and technology trends that promote growth, and Napa ranked No. 16 among small cities.

    California had six of the top 25 slots among large metropolitan areas, with four in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the report (best-cities.org). San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara claimed the top spot, fueled by strong technology innovation, both hardware and software.

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #4

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

    Something extremely exciting is afoot! It’s not Santa’s reindeer landing on your roof, or a contractor patching up a leak, it’s The Town of Novato, who are raising the bar on Innovation in Educational for all of Marin.

    I heard rumor that the Teen-focused Intel Clubhouse and the New Media Learning on 3rd street in San Rafael were moving because the building sold. That seemed tragic to me as this resource had brought amazing experiential and project-based learning in technology, media and crafts to an enormous number of students in Marin, building their competence and confidence. My curiosity overtook me; I needed to know what was up… So….I called John MacLeod who founded and runs the Clubhouse and New Media Learning (NML).

    When I caught up with John, he informed me about some really exciting news!

    Turns out, that John is forming a MAKERSPACE in Novato at the Hamilton Base, which is 1/3 larger than the NML’s previous location, and wherein they will move into during December.

    For this new space, John has been extremely busy forming a ground-breaking set of interdependent partnerships between The Novato School District, Marin County Public Library, the Marin County Office of Education, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, Maker-Ed, The Buck Institute, and Autodesk, just to start with. Holy Guacamole!

    This group is going to call this improved facility the Community Education Center (CEC) and it includes three buildings – the Maker Lab, the Novato Unified School District Media Center and the South Novato Library – all set on beautiful grounds, abundant parking, trees, outdoor hangout areas and much more.

    The Open House festivity is scheduled for January 29th and 30th the time is TBD and shall be in all three buildings. Classes will start the 1st week of the New Year, times and dates TBD.

    The Makerspace Lab shall be a unique public community MAKER space for students, teachers and families developing projects and lessons to be distributed through Novato schools and within each of the 13 outlets of the Marin County Public Libraries. The new library at the CEC was just built. John envisions expanding into a larger space across the street within two years.

    All of the CEC’s Programs are meant to create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and learning as a whole through making. The activities are meant to encourage community engagement with adults and families in a fun active place for collaborative work. There are seven program areas: The Intel Computer Clubhouse (focused on collaborative media production, social media, technology and content creation and curation), Making in the Classroom (which includes woodworking, metallurgy, sowing, fashion design and more), Adult Education, MCOE Regional Occupation Programs, Independent Study Sessions, Special Education Sessions and Family & Community Events.

    For clarity, here’s some background on each of the CEC Groups…

    New Media Learning and the Marin County of Education shall provide innovative, collaborative educational programs for the youth in Marin County. New Media Learning programs are based on access, media and technology. They provide engaging learning environments which foster collaboration for playing and creating at the Intel Computer Clubhouse. They’ve also built a very interactive social-networked style environment for youth to share media face to face, through the web, and across devices, through the creation of programming and shows, as well as via their teen publication called “Fastforward.” These students are part of the Young Makers and MAKER.ED Initiative, which has the mission to create more opportunities for all young people to develop leadership, confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making.

    The Intel Clubhouse Network is a project of the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, and is excited about operating after-school programs for youth.

    The CEC will make use of NML and the Intel Clubhouse’s high quality computers, 3D printers, word working, metallurgy, textiles and sowing and are expanding this year into using laser cutters. This past Bioneers, this group of students produced the videos for the conference and the web sharing their work with 100s of 1000s of viewers.

    Making In The Classroom is a collaborative effort among Maker Educators and Teachers in the Novato Unified School District to bring hands on, project-based learning to students and professional development to teachers.

    This Making in the Classroom is considered a pilot project and shall present Maker lessons that satisfy California Common Core requirements and Next Generation Science Standards (as they become applicable). Maker lessons emphasize seeking innovative solutions to problems, using materials in unique ways, and preparing children for an ever-changing learning environment. Project times would include school day trips and after-school activities 3:30 – 6 pm, Monday – Friday.

    After 6pm and on Weekends, the CEC will provide an Adult Education program to retrain adults to learn the technology and skills needed to be active members in a society based on 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

    The Marin ROP Media Center as part of the MCOE Regional Occupation Program will have classes which allow high school students to earn high school credits, as well as articulating class work for community college credit. The curriculum will follow the STEM-A (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through Art) as its model. Each class is required to have an industry approved advisory committee for feedback on industry standards and employer expectations. These classes run Monday- Friday afternoons.

    John has also developed individualized (Independent Study) for STEAM and MEDIA learning for self-motivated and self-directed students in a project-based learning environment for high school students. These programs are scheduled throughout the week based on the individual students needs.

    And on specific weekdays (TBD), the CEC is also offering Special Education STEAM and MEDIA classes for youth with leaning differences.

    Finally, the CEC will have fun Family & Community Events on select evenings and weekends.

    As the Community Education Center is just forming this truly innovative cross-sector educational startup, please consider contacting John MacLeod at john@newmedialearning.org to get involved.

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #3

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

    One of the Bay Area’s fastest Ed-tech startups is the MV (Mill Valley) Code Club (http://www.mvcodeclub.com), a social venture founded by programmer and entrepreneur Doug Tarr.

    Prior to founding the club, Doug had been up in Seattle working at a successful startup called PayScale (a Human Capital Platform) serving as the VP of Consumer Product and Chief Architect. As the company sold and Doug was transitioning to an Advisory role, he and his wife decided to move back to her home town of Mill Valley.

    Cut to October in 2013, his son was 14 and on a local soccer team, and while practice was ending one day, several other parents (whose kids were all passionately interested in coding and MineCraft), encouraged Doug to teach the kids how to code. So, all of a sudden there were 12 kids sitting around his dining room table and he was teaching them to use a simple coding program called Scratch, as well as some Javascript. Eight weeks later, all 12 of those kids wanted to keep going. And, by that time, many other families had heard about his intimate Mill Valley Coding Club and the membership spiked from a dozen kids to 40. At that point, Doug’s wife told him he had to find a new space — LOL!

    So, he rented a location in downtown Mill Valley with the intention of helping create a space for tweens and young teens vs high school kids, which would be safe, exciting and social, and would create a fun environment to learn how to code. His vision was to make MV Coders into a digital guild in which high school students could be paid staff and share their skills as journeyman, with the members being the apprentices, and where Doug and other coding professionals from Stanford, Google and other places would serve as the “sort of” masters.

    Doug hired the high schoolers with the intention of keeping a balanced 4:1 apprentice to journeyman ratio so that each child could get the attention that they needed to succeed. Doug offered, “So much of our real estate and time is dedicated to sports, but so little is given to technology, and that so many kids love tech, games and robotics. These were the kids that ended to work at home with headphones on, away from their friends. I wanted to create a physical space for those kids who loved coding and tech, and wanted to be around other kids just like themselves, and also to have instructors guiding them shoulder to shoulder vs being the sage on the stage. This type of project-based learning of code enabled it to be driven by the students vs being dictated and broadcast at them from the teacher, which takes the fun out of it.”

    Today, MV Code Club has expanded to 300 apprentice members, with 3 locations in Mill Valley, Greenbrae and San Francisco. Members can learn to program, develop a game, make a website, or build a robot. The club houses teach: Scratch for understanding the logic of coding using simple digital blocks; HTML5 and Javascript to learn how to create websites and user interfaces; Arduino to learn how to code to make robots; Java for backend database creation; Unity to make apps which can be sold in the Apple or Google Play Stores; Wix to quickly make websites from templates, and much more.

    Doug’s larger plan is to have clubs in each town within Marin, so that members can walk to the local MV Code Club in their community vs having to get in a car. “We drive far too much in California and need to find ways of easing the stress on parents,” Doug stated with a thoughtful smile. The Club allows kids to learn with their friends, side by side, in collaboration, share together to build deeper more developed relationships vs just individually watching a screen and trying to learn on your own. In terms of expansion, the two of us discussed potentially having an office in one of the old 5th grade classrooms at the School Street location in Fairfax, which have 9 schools within walking distance.

    MV Code Club also has been producing after-school programs at Mark Day and MPMS(Marin Primary Middle School) private middle schools within Marin. Last year, he also opened a SF location as here was such a demand from many schools for such an after-school coding program and is now working with Berkeley School, Finbar, SF Day and a few others.

    The Club also provides members exclusive field trips into the large tech companies of SF such as IGN (San Francisco-based games and entertainment media company); so that members can, first hand, see and learn about the types of jobs and cultures that type of places have, igniting their curiosity and interest in what a future job in the tech industry might look like.

    Now, MV Code Club is not a boys-only club. In terms of girls, the staff quickly realized that some girls learned and shared in a different manner than the young lads, so they decided to also offer girls-only sessions at the 3 locations. Girls seeing coding and technology as part of their identity at a young age is really important to help them succeed in our quickly evolving techno-communication world. They hope that they will grow up, and continue to pursue a passion for technology, and serve as role models for younger kid entering the tech field.

    Many of the students are creating robots, and apps, which they are selling in the app store, building websites and much more. So, these projects also fuel their entrepreneurship zeal. Indeed, many students’ apps are selling on the Apple and Google App store already and several of the students have formed companies with their parents.

    In grammar and middle-school, students learn math, reading and writing but they don’t learn how to code. In the coming year, MV Code Club will also be offering teacher-based professional development services, as many teachers have requested that they provide such.

    Currently, MV Code Club is looking for Title local Marin Sponsors to fund membership scholarships for more kids to join and have the opportunity to learn this new language and to create pathways for entrepreneurship.

    MEF Newsletter 12-15

    MEF Newsletter

    December 2015


    Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
    Planning for 2016

    Happy Holidays Everyone! As we wrap up 2015 and make our way into 2016, I’m very excited about the work Marin Economic Forum will be doing next year. As you are probably aware, Marin Economic Forum has four “Working Groups,” each around specific targeted industries that get together on a regular basis to discuss issues and current affairs that affect the residents, businesses and communities in Marin. The four groups are: Technology Entrepreneurs; Destination Management; Construction Development / Commercial Real Estate, and; Finance Industry. Each Working Group includes members of MEF’s Board of Directors, as well as business representatives and individuals that are personally invested in the Working Group targeted industries areas. In 2016, each Working Group will be working on specific projects that will produce tangible outcomes that align with the mission of MEF. As the Working Groups determine their projects and goals in early 2016 you will be able to find these updates in our monthly newsletter and on our website.

    As I have mentioned in the past, 2016 will be a big year for the life sciences in Marin. We have a growing life science cluster in Marin, based in San Rafael and Novato, and Marin Economic Forum will be working diligently to promote and expand this cluster next year. We will be engaging with all of the life science companies, as well as those entities that support life science companies. And of course we will be actively engaged in promoting the Marin life science cluster at BIO 2016 in June.

    In 2016 Marin Economic Forum will be working to expand our outreach efforts, including speaking engagements, enhanced utilization of our webpage and social media outlets, and increasing the number of partners that engage with MEF. If you would like for someone from Marin Economic Forum to give a presentation to your business, organization or community group, please reach out to me at lockett@marineconomicforum.org.

    These are all efforts that will take a lot of work and effort from MEF staff, but our organization is perfectly positioned to accomplish these goals in 2016. We will of course continue to keep all of Marin informed of economic trends that affect our community, and will be working with our partners on issues that continue to be of the utmost importance to Marin, including workforce housing and transportation.

    I hope everyone has a happy Holiday season, and we look forward to working with all of you in 2016. I know that together we will accomplish wonderful things.

    Happy Holidays

    Feature Article

    Dr. Robert Eyler
    Chief Economist
    Marin Economic Forum

    As 2015 comes to a close, Marin County remains one of the most vibrant economies in California, regardless of size. Its mix of industries, income levels, education, housing, and aesthetics make this economy and place unique. The unemployment rate is in the low 3’s, a testament to both Marin County’s demography and its proximity to San Francisco. Marin County’s personal income level per capita is the highest in California by almost $20,000 per person; this means retail sales and home prices rival larger population counties. Marin County’s economy is continues its emergence from the 2008-10 recession and continues to be a place businesses of many types, mainly smaller businesses, want to locate. With global economic projections falling slightly and interest rates likely to rise a bit, Marin County remains in a great position to welcome new businesses from a more costly city to the south due to available space and an equally-skilled labor force.

    2016 is a year where momentum built in Marin County’s life-sciences industry will have a huge boost. The world conference of biological science, called BIO 2016, is coming to San Francisco in June of next year. This is a great time to showcase what can happen in the county economy in terms of supporting businesses that hire scientists, lab technicians, accounting, legal, administrative staff, and remain close to the world center of biotech and pharmaceutical research in the greater Bay Area. This is really Marin County’s best bet as a foray into technology-driven businesses, and the government and community partnerships (San Rafael and Novato have become models for this now in the United States) to support life-science business growth are great stories to tell.

    We have elections coming in 2016 that may change the face of our local and national leadership, as well as change the way we pay workers regionally and the agriculture we grow. Drought continues to be a factor in our lives across the state of California, and Marin County has made many adjustments that are helping to conserve resources. Home prices are now up and conserving wealth, and we have emerged from the grip of recession. 2016 will be an intriguing year of continued growth (at least currently forecasted) for the state and national economy, rising interest rates for the first time since late 2008, and some socioeconomic challenges that will shape Marin County toward 2020. As an economist, I look forward to watching Marin County continue to grow and find niche in a burgeoning, regional marketplace.

    Calendar of Events
    December

  • 9 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 9 — Technology Entrepreneurs Meeting
  • January

  • 1 — Happy New Year
  • 6 — Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • Sync or Swim Series #4

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

    Spotlighting Marin-based Innovations in Education

    Something extremely exciting is afoot! It’s not Santa’s reindeer landing on your roof, or a contractor patching up a leak, it’s The Town of Novato, who are raising the bar on Innovation in Educational for all of Marin.

    I heard rumor that the Teen-focused Intel Clubhouse and the New Media Learning on 3rd street in San Rafael were moving because the building sold. That seemed tragic to me as this resource had brought amazing experiential and project-based learning in technology, media and crafts to an enormous number of students in Marin, building their competence and confidence. My curiosity overtook me; I needed to know what was up… So….I called John MacLeod who founded and runs the Clubhouse and New Media Learning (NML).

    When I caught up with John, he informed me about some really exciting news!

    Turns out, that John is forming a MAKERSPACE in Novato at the Hamilton Base, which is 1/3 larger than the NML’s previous location, and wherein they will move into during December.

    For this new space, John has been extremely busy forming a ground-breaking set of interdependent partnerships between The Novato School District, Marin County Public Library, the Marin County Office of Education, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, Maker-Ed, The Buck Institute, and Autodesk, just to start with. Holy Guacamole!

    This group is going to call this improved facility the Community Education Center (CEC) and it includes three buildings – the Maker Lab, the Novato Unified School District Media Center and the South Novato Library – all set on beautiful grounds, abundant parking, trees, outdoor hangout areas and much more.

    The Open House festivity is scheduled for January 29th and 30th the time is TBD and shall be in all three buildings. Classes will start the 1st week of the New Year, times and dates TBD.

    The Makerspace Lab shall be a unique public community MAKER space for students, teachers and families developing projects and lessons to be distributed through Novato schools and within each of the 13 outlets of the Marin County Public Libraries. The new library at the CEC was just built. John envisions expanding into a larger space across the street within two years.

    All of the CEC’s Programs are meant to create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and learning as a whole through making. The activities are meant to encourage community engagement with adults and families in a fun active place for collaborative work. There are seven program areas: The Intel Computer Clubhouse (focused on collaborative media production, social media, technology and content creation and curation), Making in the Classroom (which includes woodworking, metallurgy, sowing, fashion design and more), Adult Education, MCOE Regional Occupation Programs, Independent Study Sessions, Special Education Sessions and Family & Community Events.

    For clarity, here’s some background on each of the CEC Groups…

    New Media Learning and the Marin County of Education shall provide innovative, collaborative educational programs for the youth in Marin County. New Media Learning programs are based on access, media and technology. They provide engaging learning environments which foster collaboration for playing and creating at the Intel Computer Clubhouse. They’ve also built a very interactive social-networked style environment for youth to share media face to face, through the web, and across devices, through the creation of programming and shows, as well as via their teen publication called “Fastforward.” These students are part of the Young Makers and MAKER.ED Initiative, which has the mission to create more opportunities for all young people to develop leadership, confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making.

    The Intel Clubhouse Network is a project of the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, and is excited about operating after-school programs for youth.

    The CEC will make use of NML and the Intel Clubhouse’s high quality computers, 3D printers, word working, metallurgy, textiles and sowing and are expanding this year into using laser cutters. This past Bioneers, this group of students produced the videos for the conference and the web sharing their work with 100s of 1000s of viewers.

    Making In The Classroom is a collaborative effort among Maker Educators and Teachers in the Novato Unified School District to bring hands on, project-based learning to students and professional development to teachers.

    This Making in the Classroom is considered a pilot project and shall present Maker lessons that satisfy California Common Core requirements and Next Generation Science Standards (as they become applicable). Maker lessons emphasize seeking innovative solutions to problems, using materials in unique ways, and preparing children for an ever-changing learning environment. Project times would include school day trips and after-school activities 3:30 – 6 pm, Monday – Friday.

    After 6pm and on Weekends, the CEC will provide an Adult Education program to retrain adults to learn the technology and skills needed to be active members in a society based on 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

    The Marin ROP Media Center as part of the MCOE Regional Occupation Program will have classes which allow high school students to earn high school credits, as well as articulating class work for community college credit. The curriculum will follow the STEM-A (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through Art) as its model. Each class is required to have an industry approved advisory committee for feedback on industry standards and employer expectations. These classes run Monday- Friday afternoons.

    John has also developed individualized (Independent Study) for STEAM and MEDIA learning for self-motivated and self-directed students in a project-based learning environment for high school students. These programs are scheduled throughout the week based on the individual students needs.

    And on specific weekdays (TBD), the CEC is also offering Special Education STEAM and MEDIA classes for youth with leaning differences.

    Finally, the CEC will have fun Family & Community Events on select evenings and weekends.

    As the Community Education Center is just forming this truly innovative cross-sector educational startup, please consider contacting John MacLeod at john@newmedialearning.org to get involved.