The city was featured on June 5 in a Forbes article titled “Silicon Valley’s Newest Address? Look East,” in which Michael S. Malone details the geographical challenges that startups and entrepreneurs are facing in that overdeveloped region between Palo Alto and San Jose.
Malone writes that “the Valley’s very success has presented it with a geographical obstacle that won’t be overcome so quickly.”
The solution, he writes, is 60 miles east in San Joaquin County, “long known as a major agricultural region,” and in particular Tracy — the closest city in the county to Silicon Valley.
According to City Manager Leon Churchill, the article “put us front and center” with startups and entrepreneurs in the South Bay.
The Forbes article echoed Mayor Brent Ives’ State of the City speech in March, during which he declared, “The future is bright,” because Tracy was positioning itself to attract technology jobs and companies from the Bay Area.
On Thursday, June 20, Churchill was joined by Maria Hurtado, assistant city manager, and Andrew Malik, director of economic development, for a meeting with TiE — the largest entrepreneurial network in the world.
“We’re getting in front of them to just make our pitch that for some of you entrepreneurs, Tracy is the right place,” Churchill said. “This movement started with the State of the City address and now the Forbes article, so now we’ve created momentum and PR and people are getting curious, so we need to go in there and clinch it.”
The site of the meeting was a small office the city of Tracy is renting in TiE’s office building in Santa Clara, Malik said.
Office space in the heart of Silicon Valley is a strategic move the city made to “legitimize our desires to connect entrepreneurs out there with the entrepreneurial programs that we have here in Tracy and the county,” Malik said.
That potential connection with Tracy and San Joaquin County will be the focus of an article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal to be published in about three weeks, according to Malik.
“There aren’t a lot of cities that are taking this goal of being entrepreneurial-friendly and startup-friendly places,” he said. “We want to establish ourselves as that.”
Malik said the city envisions developments such as the 1,700-acre Cordes Ranch on the west side of Tracy as “a high-tech cluster of companies” that hail from Silicon Valley.
Financially, the city’s overall budget is not operating at a deficit for the first time in seven years.
The image and perception of Tracy is changing, Malik said, and that was apparent when he took Malone on a tour of the city before the Forbes article was written.
In the article, Malone recognized Tracy for its “spanking new city hall, police station, library and park” and credited the city for a “sweeping” redevelopment that came “without all the financial drama” that has plagued Stockton, the county seat, which recently filed for bankruptcy.
“The Forbes article was also a way to chip away at any stereotypes or misconceptions that it’s just farmlands and cows,” Malik said. “Tracy is about skilled labor and hard work, and it’s a place that entrepreneurs can come and really find a home and a place where they can grow their business ideas.”
Churchill said development efforts will continue as city officials work to attract entrepreneurs with “coffee shops, nightclubs, bars and places to take your family on the weekends so you don’t need to leave Tracy.”
“That’s what these entrepreneurs want. These people work really hard, and they want to play hard, too,” he said. “We want to get this message in front of Silicon Valley to see if it resonates with them.”
Mayor Brent Ives called the meeting in Silicon Valley a potential “game changer” for the city.
“We’ve been very deliberate the last four or five years during the down economy to position ourselves to where we would be recognized as a viable option to that community,” he said. “Now, I think people out there are really paying attention. … We’ve been building our credibility and preparing the city to welcome these people.”
Churchill said the city should know the outcome of Thursday’s meeting “in the next 60 days” and noted that efforts to connect with Silicon Valley will continue.
“If anything, I want the community to know that we are trying and we are not sitting on our hands,” he said. “It’d be easy to sit back and let the economy just ride itself, but this is about diversification and creating better jobs and lives for the community.”
The Forbes article is online: www.forbes.com/sites/mikemalone/2013/06/05/silicon-valleys-newest-address-look-east/
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.