Speakers at an inaugural event at the Grand Theatre warned that residents must work now to preserve Tracy’s identity and values before the influence and people of Silicon Valley transform the community.
Journalist and author Michael Malone shared that thought as one of three speakers at the first Progressive Leader Series event hosted by the Tracy Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.
"If you don’t have a vision of what you’re going to be when the Valley gets here," Malone said, "and how you’re going to preserve those things that make you uniquely Tracy, you’re going to lose them."
Malone, echoing an article he wrote for Forbes magazine on June 5, said Tracy is in position to become a part of Silicon Valley.
"The short-term success of Tracy is attracting companies like Amazon to come, build big buildings, pay a lot of taxes, hire a lot of locals," the journalist said in his speech. "The question then becomes: Who are you? That’s a very important question for you all to be asking right now. Because when the Valley comes, you’re not going to get to ask that question any more. You’re going to get overrun."
Kelvin Downes, general manager of the new Amazon Fulfillment Center Tracy, was also invited by the chamber to speak. Downes told the crowd of about 40 that Amazon shipped the first package from the 1 million-square-foot Tracy facility — a book — last week.
The Amazon general manager said Tracy and its residents will benefit from the company’s presence.
"What’s really making me excited is seeing our associates grow," Downes said. "I want to see our associates grow into leaders. We’re going to put a lot of leaders back into Tracy."
Rob DeLange, the training and consulting practice director for the Wiseman Group, was the third speaker invited to address the group.
Chamber president Sofia Valenzuela said 150 people paid to see the Progressive Leader Series, which she hoped would be the first of many speaker events put on by the chamber.
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