By Jason Taormino
“What will an innovation park do for Davis?”
Many Davis voters, likely a majority of voters, do not work for a business and therefore have a different set of experiences than someone like me. I have started several businesses and worked in others.
I want to share my vision — which is fed by my experience in Silicon Valley, three years in France, two in Barcelona and time in several other cities, with an MBA along the way. I hope my comments will provide a glimpse from a different perspective.
I have no doubt that an innovation park or parks will draw new businesses to Davis. First hundreds, and soon a few thousand more people will be working in Davis earning high salaries. Following are my top reasons for welcoming such a change:
1. I want my kids and your grandkids to have the option to live in Davis and work as a professional in their desired field rather than moving to the Bay Area, New York City, Portland, Seattle, etc.
2. I want fellow Davisites to experience the excitement of watching the next generation start a company, raise money, hire people, have kids, buy a house, coach soccer — becoming the next generation of proud Davisites.
3. With a stronger retail base supported by these new professionals, we won’t have to go to Sacramento or San Francisco as often. Eventually, Davis will have its own Apple Store.
4. More businesses will bring more people who will order chai decaf lattes, eat lunch or dinner at a restaurant and go out with their colleagues after work.
5. More businesses mean more taxes, in various forms, and we need their money to control Davis’ destiny.
6. Our aging population will increasingly have special needs — needs that may require additional municipal and community services — services that can be afforded only if we continue to attract younger, family-aged professionals and skilled workers.
7. The Davis schools need more well-educated parents who believe in public education and will participate in the schools.
8. Businesses in Davis generate as much tax revenue for the city as the property taxes on our homes. An innovation park could double that tax revenue to $20 million a few years. Palo Alto’s businesses generate $30 million annually.
9. With more business in town, fewer Davisites will need to commute, and more will have a chance to work in their hometown.
10. An innovation park will attract companies that are high-paying not just for the executives but also for the staff working on the manufacturing floor, in the labs and in the marketing department.
11. It will feel great to capitalize on our unique nexus of resources — university, relatively inexpensive housing (compared to the Bay Area), good public schools, great transportation, highly educated work force outside of the university, inexpensive housing in neighboring towns and proximity to mountains and the coast.
12. I want more people in Davis who can afford the homes that our aging population are now vacating.
13. I want to talk with parents on the sidelines of the soccer fields who are working for interesting companies.
14. I want to have young people experience the same struggles and joys as their parents without needing to be a professor at UCD.
15. I want to create a space for the next UCD hospital, so the doctors and nurses who already live in Davis can ride their bikes to work.
16. I want to see a growing cross-section of younger, technology company employees working and living in Davis to re-invigorate, strengthen and ensure our established traditions of community and business outreach and leadership.
17. I want Davis to thrive and control its future.
Jason Taormino is standing in for Doby Fleeman. He is an active member of the Davis Chamber of Commerce. This column first appeared in the Davis Enterprise.