Missed Opportunities Redux: Davis Still Reeling From Loss of Bayer

By Rob White

A few months ago I listed several Davis companies that had received new investments or were expanding in to new facilities. These included Marrone Bio Innovations, BioConsortia, Inc. and Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. And we have learned since then about new investments, company growth and new facilities for Agrinos, Expression Systems and Engage3. And those are the ones that are public knowledge.

But yesterday we began to learn the magnitude of the missed opportunity for Davis by the move of Bayer CropScience LP (formerly AgraQuest) to West Sacramento.

The ribbon-cutting for the new facility, covered by several news outlets, offered announcements and a better description of the true loss for the Davis community.

To start, the new facilities will amount to an $80 million investment into West Sacramento, according to the Sacramento Business Journal article covering the event.

Staff writer for the Business Journal, Mark Anderson, explains in his article that this facility will be Bayer CropScience LP’s “world headquarters of its biologics research and development operation.” Yes, you read that right. A major global corporation is putting its ‘world headquarters’ for an entire arm of its forward looking research and development in West Sacramento instead of Davis.

The article describes that of the 160,000 square feet building, the move of over 160 Bayer employees from Davis will use only 100,000. And that the company expects to grow to 300 employees in a few years. That’s an expected growth in staffing of over 85%. Jobs that could have been in Davis.

And if the news couldn’t get worse for Davis, the article describes that Bayer also announced that about 30,000 square feet of the building will be developed in the coming months into a lab for vegetable seed research and development, which will then move from Davis to West Sacramento. So, more jobs lost and the growth potential of that company shifted away from Davis.

Perhaps the kicker of the whole story was a revelation at the end of the article. The author describes that “as part of the opening, Bayer CropScience announced it has donated $10,000 to the Powerhouse Science Center, a science education museum being developed in Sacramento.” Might I dare say this perhaps could have been funding for one of Davis’ science-based programs? It does illustrate what I have highlighted previously – large companies can provide for significant infusion of funding into local charities and nonprofits.

And if you wonder just how big the biologics market is currently and might become in the future, Cathie Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reported that according to Bayer’s vice president of global marketing the market studies say that the market is $1.8 billion and is projected to keep growing at 10 to 15 percent a year.

As a quick aside, for those that want to know what is meant by biologics in this context, it is the study and application of naturally occurring biopesticides that come from microbes. More broadly, the US Food and Drug Administration defines biologics as “composed of sugars, proteins, or nucleic acids or complex combinations of these substances, or may be living entities such as cells and tissues. Biologics are isolated from a variety of natural sources – human, animal, or microorganism – and may be produced by biotechnology methods and other cutting-edge technologies.”

In the larger scale of things, this news for West Sacramento means some of our other companies in Davis, like Marrone Bio Innovations and BioConsortia, Inc., will also be growing rapidly if they can compete in this global market. It can also be interpreted that the seed and agtech research going on in conjunction with UC Davis is truly cutting-edge and is attracting significant investments in our region from companies like Bayer, HM Clause and Syngenta.

Though it is too late to change the course of the decisions made by Bayer, it is not too late to hopefully provide opportunities in Davis for other investments by Bayer and global agtech companies.

As we have discussed several times on the Vanguard, a key to this effort is providing a world class research park that will allow for growth of these companies. Bayer worked with the City and local brokers but was unable to find suitable opportunities. We are now faced with a similar situation with FMC Schilling Robotics. And I imagine it won’t be long until we hear from another of our Davis companies that they need new space.

I highlight the Bayer CropScience move and investment as a way to illustrate that we do have the local demand, global companies are willing to make large investments locally, and the university is on an upward trajectory as a leader in agtech and biologics. The Davis community is a research and development based economy and there is an opportunity to utilize this growth to balance the community’s fiscal challenges.

I would challenge us as a community to work diligently together to ensure that the next several significant investments by global corporations in to our local companies creates opportunities for Davis – one that keeps the job growth, the investment and the philanthropy.

Thanks for reading and considering my ideas. Your thoughts are always welcome. My email is rwhite@cityofdavis.org if you choose to email me directly or you can follow me on Twitter @mrobertwhite.

About The Author

Rob White is the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Davis and was selected as a 2012 White House Champion of Change for Local Innovation. He serves as an ex-officio Board Member for techDAVIS (a local tech entrepreneur industry group), as an executive Board Member for the Innovate North State iHub, and as a Board Member for Hacker Lab and the California Network for Manufacturing Innovation. He is a candidate for the Doctorate in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California and has a Masters from USC in Planning and Development and a Bachelors of Science in Geology from Chico State.

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  1. BrianRiley429

    It’s a missed opportunity to bring in tax revenue for the City of Davis, but what about the “rising tide lifts all boats” effect? Surely there will be some kind of long-term gain for the whole region coming out of this, right?

    1. Rob White

      BR429 – yes, the indirect economic impacts of some people still living in Davis and working at Bayer in West Sac will have some positive impact on our city, as well as the region. And the “rising tide” sentiment is a nice one, and has validity. But it will not contribute significantly to either of the two major sources of our city revenue (property and sales tax), which make up 60% of our general fund revenue. We also don’t get permit fees for current improvements, nor future permits for new tenant improvements. We won’t see significant amounts of philanthropy for our local nonprofits and charities. And we most certainly won’t gain much from fuel purchases (which create local sales tax revenue), services and retail purchases that will now primarily accrue at the West Sac IKEA power center.

      So yes, good for the region, but significantly bad for Davis. And Since I am focused on improving the Davis economy and the city’s fiscal situation, I care foremost about lost opportunities that could have had significant impact on our local economy.

    2. BrianRiley429

      Seems to me that the best way to go is to think in terms of creating a “Silicon Valley” for agricultural innovation in our region. That won’t be accomplished if we lay undue stress on the the City of Davis’ temporary fiscal woes. It might be a bumpy road in getting there, but if our region *does* become a “Silicon Valley” for agricultural innovation, then eventually the City of Davis’ fiscal conundrums will be solved.

  2. Don Shor

    Regarding this: ” Bayer worked with the City and local brokers but was unable to find suitable opportunities.”

    Quoting TOBS from yesterday:

    Another canard I am tiring of hearing about (David, unfortunately you also buy into this) is about how Bayer-Agraquest moved out of Davis because we could not give them what they wanted. The actual truth is that they got a phenomenal deal for Affimetrix’s old facility, 160,000 sqft loaded with biotech equipment and labs, ready to go including permits. There is NO WAY that Davis (or any other non-industrial city) will EVER have a facility that size and certainly not for the price ($425M, $2.5K sqft) OR the timescale required.

      1. Don Shor

        What do you mean by a lesser deal? The reality is that large corporations that need large amounts of space will find much cheaper land in nearby communities. Cost of industrial land near Dixon and West Sac is very low. Lots of vacant office space around Natomas. Davis should play to its strengths and not try to compete against those particular market realities. Davis isn’t “reeling” from anything. Our innovation/business park process is moving forward.

          1. South of Davis

            Rob wrote:

            > Just so the appropriate people get credit, the ‘reeling’ came
            > as an editorial addition by David. It’s his blog, I just live in it

            I bet 99.9% of the city has no idea that:

            1. That Bayer CropScience bought AgraQuest
            2. That AgraQuest was in Davis
            3. That Bayer-AgraQuest had a ribbon cutting in West Sac

            So I don’t think the city is “reeling”…

        1. Mark West

          Considering the condition of our roads and other infrastructure, I think ‘reeling’ is an apt description of our fiscal state and defines the impact of our past no growth and anti-business policies. Whether or not Bayer would have stayed in town if space had been available is arguable (though I am more likely to take the word of Rob White over an anonymous poster) but what is not in question is that the City’s fiscal situation would be measurably better today had Bayer stayed in town and continued to grow.

          “Our innovation/business park process is moving forward.”

          Perhaps, but we are at least a decade late to the party and are ‘reeling’ fiscally because of it.

    1. Rob White

      Don – this is an interesting comment by TOBS. One significant problem is that the info is being stated as fact by an anonymous source even though there are serious errors in the comment. Let me correct those errors.

      1. Bayer didn’t move out of Davis because they “couldn’t get what they wanted”… they HAD to move because there wasn’t even an option for them to consider. I don’t premise that they would have definitely stayed, I point out that we didn’t even have a place to accommodate their stated needs.
      2. They did get a phenomenal deal on the 160,000 square feet left by Affymetrix (note correct spelling of the company name), but the majority of the :loaded with biotech equipment” was not useful to Bayer and the ” labs, ready to go including permits” is just plain false. Bayer’s tenant improvements made significant rearrangement and upgrade of facilities, and the only “permits” ready to go were the fact that the land was appropriately zoned. The tenant improvements and other construction still required permits. I know this because city staffers work closely together with other city staffers and we share info.
      3. “There is NO WAY that Davis (or any other non-industrial city) will EVER have a facility that size”… then how do you explain DMG Mori? It has a relatively new commercial office building of 68,000 square feet, and then they built a BRAND NEW 221,500 square feet manufacturing plant. And why is FMC Schilling Robotics trying to build up to a 500,000 manufacturing plant in Davis if it is such a better deal in other industrial cities?
      4. “Certainly not for the price ($425M, $2.5K sqft)”… in fairness to TOBS, their point is even more dramatic because the building actually sold for about $11 million ($68.75/sq ft)… but the comment “OR the timescale required”, is somewhat misleading. If we had the appropriately zoned land to build on, this facility could have been constructed in a similar timeframe as it has taken since the announcement by Bayer last May (2013). The Ramos/Oates team built DMG Mori’s new manufacturing plant in about the same time, and say that if Schilling Robotics has room to grow, they will build the new facility in a similar timeframe. So, no, 18 months is not a revolutionary timescale.

      In all, the point I would like to leave the Vanguard community with is one I have made several times. It should be completely reasonable for anyone to post their opinion and state it as such. But for a community that prides itself on looking at the facts and assessing the circumstances based on knowledge and research, it is perplexing to me how many posters will state opinions as facts… which seem to be just a diversion from the real conversation and I don’t think really add to the value of the debate. Staying anonymous is anyone’s prerogative, but facts should have sources, right? And shouldn’t input that comes from verifiable experience from non-anonymous sources be weighed with just slightly more value than a string of misinformation from an anonymous source? I know, get over it… just something to consider, because this is in fact is just my opinion. 🙂

        1. Mark West

          1 acre = 43560 square feet. So a 160,000 sf building would cover roughly 3.7 acres, with more land required around the building for parking, landscaping, buffer between buildings, and the like. Safe assumption, 8-10 acres.

          Greater acreage would be required if ‘design style’ or ‘maintaining the character of the City’ are the deciding factors in the plan, fewer if the focus is on the most effective use of the available space.

          1. Matt Williams

            8-10 acres is just about what their “building site” is in West Sac. It is also my understanding that they purchased 10 additional acres elsewhere in West Sac for their test crop fields. 18-20 acres total.

          2. Gum Drops

            Go with multiple stories and even less land is required. Because parking will remain as surface parking, you can’t turn a single story building into a 2 story building and assume you can cut the site size in half, although there are some efficiencies, as landscaping and property setbacks don’t typically increase by going vertical. Is Bayer’s new building single story?

      1. DT Businessman

        There’s nothing anonymous about this quote from Jim Gray, a leading local commercial real estate broker:

        “The building was vacant and available because a global company, Affymetrix, moved its operations to Singapore. In other words, Bayer got the existing building for 18 cents on the dollar. No way could a new building be built this cheaply,” he wrote noting that Bayer jumped on the opportunity after the other company left West Sacramento for Singapore.

        He called this an “opportunistic capital investment that Bayer was able to make on a relatively new, high-tech building with expansion space that was sitting vacant only 15 minutes from its current Davis operations. Bayer acquired a building for approximately $11 million, approximately $67 per square foot, in which the former occupant reportedly had invested more than $60 million, or $365 per square foot.”

        “Let’s not beat ourselves up and let’s not misdiagnose the reason that Bayer chose West Sacramento. Bayer’s decision does not reflect poorly on the community of Davis and its desirability to technology or agricultural firms. Before rushing to cause and effect such as ‘not enough big buildings,’ ‘not enough zoned land,’ the old and untrue stereotype that the city of Davis ‘planning and zoning requirements are too tough,’ that there is a ‘lack of competiveness’ or some other speculation, I would encourage Davis residents and civic leaders to acknowledge that Bayer made a screaming deal for pennies on the dollar,” he writes.

        “There are clearly unintended consequences of the growth control measures that were designed to slow the community’s residential growth. We do need additional state-of-the-art buildings with competitive business infrastructure so we can compete effectively on the global stage. We need to continue to work collaboratively and competitively to attract and win our fair share of great jobs and world-class companies. Our planning policies can continually be enhanced so that we can react nimbly and positively to compete when good companies come along,” he writes.

        “Those are matters for the community to work on and will make us even more competitive. But with regards to the Bayer decision, Bayer made a great buy and the region is a winner as a result.”

        A fairly balanced comment in my view.

        -Michael Bisch

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I recently spoke with a relative in Southern California who worked for a major defense contractor his whole life. He spent half an hour relaying all of the moderate and major companies – who produce good-paying jobs – that have relocated to Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Florida, China, and Mexico. And a few that went out of business.

      The common theme was dramatically increased regulations, increased taxes, increased fees, red tape, and an unfriendly business environment.

  3. Frankly

    This Tesla decision raises an interesting ideological contrast.

    Nevada offered incentives that equaled about 10% of the project cost. Nevada also has zero state corporate and income tax. Lastly, Nevada also offers less expensive power due to their development of wind and solar… using up lots of land to do so… something that California is unable to do because of the opposition to the land use and other factors largely in the environmentalist agenda.

    The ideological contrast is the old “provide a fish or provide a job to fish” metaphor.

    California is clearly dominated by left-leaning politics, and left-leaning politics clearly favors the “provide a fish” approach. The narrative of the political left is that government spending on business benefits the business owners and that we are better off taxing the crap out of those business owners and their employees and their customers to redistribute in the form of direct services to the non-business owners.

    It might make a voter sleep better for the immediate term to know that those somehow unable to provide for themselves have a fish to eat. But what is missing from the left ideology is the long-term individual and collective social problems caused by the damage to the human psyche that happens when a person is not able to provide for himself or his family. And taking this further… from a perspective of a hierarchy of needs, the lack of a good job that offers career-step opportunity mean a lack of potential to become self-actualized as an individual.

    From this perspective, the political right ideology with respect to government focus for spending (investment in infrastructure and private sector economic expansions and growth) is the more genuinely sophisticated in caring for the individual. As a conservative I don’t want to keep giving the fish to those unable to provide for themselves and their family because I know that it locks them into a state of never advancing into higher level needs. When someone else provides for you you are naturally going to be insecure about your circumstances. You will be stuck on the lower-level needs pursuits of safety and security… and will be largely incapable of moving yourself up to the day where you might become self-actualized.

    It is the self-actualized people that give back to society. And because of this, the more people working in jobs that provide career advancement opportunities, the better off we are as a society.

    This principle holds true at a macro global level down to a family level. And it certainly holds true for a state and for a city.

    My life is good precisely because of the career opportunities provided to me by a previous robust growing economy. I became self-actualized through my progress in advancing in my career… taking on more complex and challenging work as my knowledge and skills advanced, and being recognized and rewarded for it.

    Davis needs to consider this as we discuss the pros and cons of local economic development. Not only are we in need of the tax revenue derived from greater business activity, but I believe we have a moral imperative to provide as many good jobs as possible. If we want to be truly charitable and caring, we would give of ourselves to help our fellow citizens advance to the same good life we enjoy… even if it means giving up some open space, and dealing with some more traffic.

    1. Mark West

      Frankly: You could have made this same argument, without the false ‘left vs. right’ dichotomy, and probably received a great deal more support for your ideas.

      Simply stated, our goal as a society should be to provide good career and life opportunities for our community’s children (an not just our own). That can be done while maintaining a focus on protecting the environment and providing a safety net for those unable to provide for themselves. It won’t be accomplished however as long as we hold to the ‘us vs. them’ mentality often in evidence in your comments (and frankly my own). It is easiest to argue in terms of black and white, but the solutions to life’s vexing problems will be found in the muddled levels of grey in between.

      1. Frankly

        But Mark it is political group-think that is at the core of policy that negatively impacts economic growth and job production.

        I don’t do the, hold-harmless so feelings are not hurt, thing very well. And I don’t think it is helpful because it enables denial of the root cause of problems we face.

        People need to take ownership of their strongly-held beliefs including ownership of the negative aspect of them. As a conservative I hear that all the time… as I cling to my guns and religion.

        Everything in life is about balance. And we are way tilted to a left ideology with respect to policy in this state and this city. We favor left leaning environmental protection and open space preservation over right leaning business protection and economic expansion. This is fundamentally why business are leaving CA and why it is more difficult to attract them and why CA has a much higher than national average unemployment rate.

        It is not “us against them” unless a person makes it “us against them”. It is one group’s ideas against other group’s ideas. And ultimately it is one man’s ideas against another man’s ideas (man being the placeholder for any thinking human). But we must identify and categorize the sources and trends if we are to alter our trajectory.

        See below. Do you want to argue that these business-unfriendly policy changes are not products of current left ideology?

        1. Don Shor

          Everything in life is about balance. … We favor left leaning environmental protection and open space preservation over right leaning business protection and economic expansion.

          There are two, perhaps three, business park proposals before the city, as well as Nishi. One peripheral site was preserved, 2 – 4 more are likely to be developed if approved by the voters. That sounds like balance to me.

          1. Mark West

            Your argument might hold water if those parks are approved and constructed. At this point, not so much.

          2. Davis Progressive

            nowhere. so what’s the point of this? why did bayer not attempt to work with the city to approve a project, that’s what schilling has done.

        2. Mark West

          Both of the extremes of your ‘left / right’ political dichotomy are corrupt and neither provides a solution to our problems. Do we focus on the extremes, and in the process label everyone with those black and white tags, or do we focus on solutions.

          My point is that every time you scream the Left is bad, the Anti-Frankly comes out and screams just as loudly (though often using softer language) the same nonsense about the Right. Both are extreme views, and neither is helpful.

          I do not disagree with most of your basic arguments, but your use of an oversimplified explanation of the cause of the problems (it is the Left’s fault) does you more harm than good, and tends to make your posts uninteresting and frankly (because you are) unreadable.

          1. Frankly

            But apparently you read it… and it was interesting enough to cause a reaction.

            But I appreciate the points and will give them contemplation.

          2. Mark West

            “But apparently you read it”

            I had time to kill.

            “and it was interesting enough to cause a reaction.”

            Not really. The reaction was brought about by months of frustration watching your chosen verbiage sabotage your good ideas. It is not an uncommon trap here (one that I have fallen into on more than one occasion) and most of the time I just push my mental ‘ignore’ button and move on. This time I decided to comment.

          3. Frankly

            Ha! Are you my guardian angel in this life? I need an army of them.

            I frequently sabotage my good ideas with poor delivery. That is why I shoot a shotgun instead of a pea shooter.

            And trust me, I am not silly enough to think that I am going to change the mind of anyone I am debating directly on the VG. I think the impact happens over time to people reading with an open mind. Either they learn to agree or learn to disagree. Either is fine by me.

            I think you are saying that I would have more of any impact if I tone down the political rhetoric and divisiveness.

            Funny, but I have actually attempted that over the last few weeks… but I note that there is much less conversation.

            Maybe a “like” and “abusive” counter would help me tone down.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Frankly, I am not sure that Nevada offers less expensive power. One link said they had the 15th most expensive power in the US, another said they had the highest rates of eight western states.

      They are retiring their last coal power plants, which is a huge change, and Warren Buffet bought NV Energy. If Lake Mead continues to drop, they may also lose some (all?) of their hydro power. Lots of big changes on the way.

      1. Frankly

        “I think the single most important factor is the [site’s] low-cost green power,” said John Boyd, principal of The Boyd Company, a site selection firm that had forecast Nevada as the likely winner. Reno offers Tesla choices among solar, wind and geothermal energy for the plant. He also said Nevada’s lack of corporate and personal income taxes aided its selection


  4. Frankly

    While I am on the CA is not welcoming enough to business…

    Beginning July 1, 2015, every employee, whether exempt or non-exempt (limited exceptions), who is employed in California for 30 days or more will be entitled to accrue paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked beginning the first day of employment (or July 1, 2015, whichever is later). Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per week, unless the employee normally works a workweek of less than 40 hours.

    Also, buying lumber yesterday for a home remodeling project I noted a CA Lumber Fee tax on my receipt.

    On Jan. 1, the state will require buyers of lumber and “engineered” wood products to pay a 1% assessment on the price of such building materials.

    Retailers and contractors will be required to collect the fee from customers and pass the money, estimated to raise $35 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, to the state Board of Equalization.

    The assessment, passed into law as part of the current state budget act, is to fund programs in various state agencies charged with regulating timber harvests and preventing and fighting forest fires.

    This state is sucking more and more every day.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Our environmental extremists have created super fires which included the recent Rim Fire which destroyed over 200,000 acres of forest.

      Now these extremists won’t let lumber companies cut the dead wood, which combined with the beetle infestation, will create even more havoc to our forests.

      I’d think a common sense approach would be to cut more dead trees, and use the monies and fees to help replant the destroyed forests. The forest does not need 200,000 acres of dead wood to help the ecosystem restore itself.

      1. Mark West

        “Our environmental extremists have created super fires which included the recent Rim Fire which destroyed over 200,000 acres of forest.”

        In the late 70’s I took a Forestry class at CAL where the professor blamed the US Forest Service’s policy of ‘no fires,’ and specifically their ‘Smokey the Bear’ lead marketing program to stamp out all forest fires, as the root cause of the catastrophic forest fires in the State. By fighting and quashing all the small, lightening strike fires that are a normal part of our ecosystem, we had created an unhealthy forest that was so full of wood trash fuel, that what normally would have been a small, ground based fire that helped clear out the trash, became instead a large scale canopy fire that destroyed thousands of acres of trees. The situation was exacerbated further by a wood harvest policy that focused on clear cutting to minimize the expense of harvest (thus maximizing short-term profits), rather than the maintaining a healthy forest and a sustainable harvest (thus maximizing long-term profits).

        In my mind the fault lies equally with both the environmental extremists and the business extremists, who unfortunately can only see the world through their own extreme positions and as a consequence are unable to understand the reality of the nuances in between.

        1. Matt Williams

          Mark, I agree with your description of the underlying causes of the current situation. With that said, I’m not sure that the fatally flawed ecosystem management practices you have described can be blamed on environmental extremists. As such I would adjust your final paragraph to read, “In my mind the fault lies equally with both the short-sighted forest fire fighting bureaucracy and the business extremists, who unfortunately can only see the world through their own short-sighted positions and as a consequence are unable to understand the reality of the nuances in between.”

          1. Mark West

            What you are apparently ignoring Matt is that the current environmental laws, that were pushed through by environmental extremists in an effort to negate the damaged caused by the business extremists (and the stupid bureaucracy) now prevent us from taking a nuanced approach to solving the problem. My original comment stands as presented.

          2. Matt Williams

            Not ignoring it Mark. If you had included that third factor in your original list of two, I would have concurred with you on that additional factor. My point was that the poor forest husbandry that you described was not the result of environmental extremism.

            If you had also said that our ability to take a nuanced approach to solving the problem is currently impaired, I would have concurred with you on that point as well. I apologize for my failure to be a mind reader.

          3. Mark West

            “My point was that the poor forest husbandry that you described was not the result of environmental extremism.”

            Smokey the Bear’s no fire approach was an environmental extremist position promulgated by a government agency. Environmental extremism comes in many forms Matt, and from many sources. I did not contradict TBD’s original claim, just demonstrated that the situation was more complex than originally stated.

            “I apologize for my failure to be a mind reader.”

            No mind reading was required Matt, just a bit of thought on the part of the reader. I do not believe that the ‘spoon feeding’ is beneficial when addressing an intelligent audience.

            As the saying goes, “There are only two types of people, those who can extrapolate from incomplete data and…”

          4. Matt Williams

            “Smokey the Bear’s no fire approach was an environmental extremist position promulgated by a government agency.”

            Smokey the Bear was about as mainstream as one could possibly get. There was nothing extreme/radical about it. It was the conventional wisdom of the day, being taught at all the forestry colleges/universities/programs across the US. What is your definition of extremist?

        2. South of Davis

          Mark wrote:

          > In my mind the fault lies equally with both the environmental
          > extremists and the business extremists, who unfortunately can
          > only see the world through their own extreme positions and as
          > a consequence are unable to understand the reality of the nuances
          > in between.

          I agree with Mark 100% and the response from Matt just proves his point (all we need not is for Frankly to come to the defense of the logging companies saying it was “mostly” environmentalists that caused the problems).

          Rather than ever admit that BOTH sides cause problems, (and lie about them) we don’t have people shake hands and say let’s both work to solve the problems “our side” is causing we have people in the two camps arguing about who is “mostly” to blame (or causing “most” of the problems).

  5. DavisBurns

    What are we doing to fill the space once occupied by Agra Quest? Anyone know what the vacancy rate is for existing commercial space? Yes, I know your focus is on NEW NEW NEW space, but isn’t it a very conservative stance to want use the space we currently have?

    1. Matt Williams

      DB, I believe it is already filled by Marrone Bio Innovations, but I will defer to Rob White for confirmation of that “fact” and the timeline of any such filling.

      With that said, it is important to consider that Marrone Bio Innovations would have been net incremental jobs if Bayer/AgraQuest had stayed. As it is there are no net incremantal jobs here in Davis as a result of the ag tech innovations of Pam Marrone.

  6. Davis Progressive

    “I highlight the Bayer CropScience move and investment as a way to illustrate that we do have the local demand, global companies are willing to make large investments locally, and the university is on an upward trajectory as a leader in agtech and biologics. The Davis community is a research and development based economy and there is an opportunity to utilize this growth to balance the community’s fiscal challenges.
    I would challenge us as a community to work diligently together to ensure that the next several significant investments by global corporations in to our local companies creates opportunities for Davis – one that keeps the job growth, the investment and the philanthropy.”

    so i get the concern. what i want to understand is whether the answer here is again the innovation parks being planned or whether there is something else i’m missing?

    1. Anon

      What is it that you think you are missing? Robb White is telling you that innovation parks are what will attract businesses to Davis, businesses which will generate more tax revenue to pay for city services, and businesses that most likely will donate to the community, a value added perk. Can you think of any other way to generate more tax revenue to the city to get us out of our fiscal bind, because I’m all ears and open to any new ideas?

      1. DT Businessman

        Anon, I’ll take you up on your openness to new ideas (although they’re actually not new, although all too often swept aside). There’s quite a bit of literature and statistics making the case that startups provide another way (see below). That said, it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.

        -Michael Bisch

      2. Frankly

        The number of ideas are definitive. The only one on the sidelines is a significant push to develop more local retail. But we all know that won’t work because of the anti retail jihadists that live hear or have existing retail here or are commercial landlords here.

        1. Don Shor


          the anti retail jihadists

          From the Vanguard Comment Policy:

          Pejorative references to any general class of people are strongly discouraged. The Editorial Board asks commenters to understand that general insults discourage the participation of others. They contribute to a negative tone and strongly suggest disrespect for the views of others. In some cases, general insults oversimplify the positions of others, which is detrimental to informed and respectful debate. General insults that are provocative are especially discouraged.

          1. Frankly

            Okay, okay. I will throw away my urban dictionary.

            I was going to write “anti-retail extremists” but somehow it did not seem to capture the dogmatism.

  7. DT Businessman

    “During the past three decades, startups in the US have created nearly 40 million jobs, all the NET job creation in the country over that period. As we recover from a deep recession, our ability to innovate, build iconic companies, put people back to work, and inspire the world will once again be determined by whether entrepreneurs continue taking chances on a dream to start a business. After all, the story of America has always been the story of entrepreneurs going against the grain to imagine a better tomorrow.” -Steve Case, August 2012, foreword to the book, Startup Communities, by Brad Feld

    -Michael Bisch

  8. DT Businessman

    “Many people approach business as a zero-sum game: There are winners and losers. This is stupid and counterproductive in the context of a startup community. Startup communities are often a tiny fraction of what they could ultimately become. As a result, there is a huge amount of untapped opportunity. Approaching it as a non-zero-sum game is much more powerful.” -Brad Feld, Startup Communities

    -Michael Bisch

  9. DT Businessman

    “Once members of the startup community realize that geographic borders are artificial, they often fall into the trap of playing a zero-sum game, where they win at the expense of the neighboring startup community….This is dumb. As a society, we are far from the saturation point in terms of entrepreneurship. Although there is not an infinite capacity for it, playing a zero-sum game, especially within neighboring geographies, simply stifles the growth of the startup ecosystem. Instead, take a network approach and connect your startup community with neighboring ones.” -Brad Feld, Startup Communities.

    -Michael Bisch

  10. DT Businessman

    Boulder, CO population: 101,808
    Davis, CA population: 65,993
    Boulder, CO total employment: 93,154 (.91 jobs per capita)
    Davis, CA: total employment: 32,000 according to realchangz (.48 jobs per capita)
    Boulder, CO host to large university: yes
    Davis, CA host to large university: yes
    Boulder, CO vibrant downtown: yes
    Davis, CA vibrant downtown:yes
    Boulder, CA liberal: yes
    Davis, CA liberal: yes
    Boulder, CO strong open space preservation policies: yes
    Davis, CA strong open space preservation policies: yes
    Boulder, CO companies outgrow facilities and forced to relocate: yes
    Davis, CA companies outgrow facilities and forced to relocate: yes
    Boulder, CO a leading startup community: yes
    Davis, CA a leading startup community: not so much

    -Michael Bisch

    1. Frankly

      The take away from this is exactly the point. We have fallen far down the local economy rabbit hole and need to accept the need to start climbing back up. Only then can we successfully compare ourselves with other communities.

      We are basically stuck being used to a situation that is unhealthy and demanding that it not change because we are afraid that the change will be unhealthy.

  11. DT Businessman

    “Davis, CA a leading startup community: not so much”

    The point is, Davis could be a great startup community. It has all the ingredients and then some. Unfortunately, it also has a number of attributes that prevent the creation of a vibrant startup community. I encourage you to read the book. The comparison/contrast between Davis and Boulder is striking!

    PS: Bill Habicht turned me on to the book. It’s all the Young Leader’s fault!

    -Michael Bisch

    1. Mark West

      Great question Michelle. You cannot develop a start-up community in an anti-business environment, and Davis has long been an anti-business environment. In order to match Boulder’s job level we would need to add roughly 28,000 jobs with no change in our current population. I don’t know how many jobs are expected to be added with the proposed business parks, but I doubt it is anywhere near that many. In order to add that many jobs we would need to rely on the power of small businesses, each adding 2-10 new jobs to the City, in addition to the larger businesses that will inhabit an Innovation Park. The basic problem is that our City is not set up to entice new small business to open here. We lack space, a support network, and have completely failed to market the City as a place for new businesses.

      Saving Schilling Robotics, and bringing in the next Mori Seki, is incredibly important, but so is finding space for the next Redwood Barn, or Pink-a-dot, or Blue Oak Energy. We are currently focused on big projects, which we need, but there are a number of small projects and small changes that could make a big difference if we would dedicate the staff time and a little money to see them through.

        1. Matt Williams

          Build a new consolidated City Hall / School District complex at the corner of 5th and Pole Line across from the Post Office and you could accomplish that and free up the area north of Central Park (where the School District Administration building and City Hall are) as well. City Hall and the Post Office and DMV as the easternmost anchors of the 5th Street retail / service corridor would make a lot of sense.

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