Last week, we noted that on Tuesday Night, UC Davis Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Planning and Community Resources Bob Segar presented to the Davis City Council a report on UC Davis’s LRDP (Long Range Development Plan), which is a comprehensive land-use plan to guide physical development of the campus, akin to a city’s General Plan.
On the south end of campus, southwest of Nishi and into Solano County, the area was previously designated as Research Park in the 2003-15 plan. Mr. Segar announced that that area is no longer being considered for a Research Park
The Vanguard was previously aware of fairly high level talks between UC officials and local economic development interests and developers about the possibility of a large innovation center going into Solano County.
In a follow-up email, Mr. Segar explained, “The current LRDP (2003-2015) shows a total of 38 acres of land designated as Research Park at the intersection of Old Davis Road and Interstate 80 (27 acres south of the freeway and 11 acres north of the freeway). I did mention Tuesday night that my expectation is that we will not be designating this land as Research Park in this 2027 LRDP update.”
In large part, he explained this was due “to the positive energy in Davis around the pursuit of local innovation activity.”
While interesting, there are still some holes. According to what the Vanguard heard earlier this year, the discussions evolved around an innovation park far larger than the 76 acres that Mr. Segar identifies. Second, these talks occurred after plans for innovation parks were well underway at the city of Davis, and before the pull-out of the Davis Innovation Center.
Clearly, this is not the full story – although at this point it seems relatively safe to assume that talks of a bigger innovation park are off the table.
One of the originators of these talks was Barry Broome. As we noted in last week’s article, the Sacramento Business Journal gave a sobering view of the progress that Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, has made in pitching the Sacramento region for moving San Francisco-based technology companies.
The Business Journal writes, “Broome still gave his investors a sobering outlook Wednesday on the long-term challenge of recruiting business from the Bay Area.”
They said about Mr. Broome, “He focused on economic data that shows Sacramento has an abundance of young, professional workers, many of whom commute three hours to the Bay Area each day because they can earn up to 50 percent more income. The data also showed the Sacramento region has a lower median age and far lower real estate costs than the Bay Area and Seattle.”
Right now, the region’s biggest assets are two major higher learning institutions – Sac State and UC Davis. “Executives were also interested in research occurring at University of California Davis,” they wrote.
This weekend, Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton had a fascinating piece on the work of Mr. Broome since he arrived back in February to lead the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council.
Writes Mr. Breton, “It’s always been easy to diagnose why Sacramento had a weak economy. The state capital was too dependent on government jobs and real estate sales. The region had no discernible identity except a negative one held by too many people in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.”
As Mr. Breton explains, Barry Broome “came to Sacramento to be the answer.” He adds, “When you meet the man trying to remake Sacramento’s economic ecosystem, he’ll tell you that neither he nor his mission are political.”
“If you haven’t heard of Broome, or don’t know why he left a thriving career in Phoenix for Sacramento,” Mr. Breton continues, “Broome arrived in February to lead a new public-private partnership called the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council. That’s hardly a sexy name. But the forces that brought Broome to Sacramento, coupled with his personal story and track record as rainmaker for cities, set his story apart…”
Mr. Broome “was brought here to change the economic image of Sacramento by the biggest CEOs in the region – a group flexing their muscles like never before.” “Broome already has regional support in that 17 local cities and 30 CEOs are members of the Greater Sacramento council. He is pushing those cities to establish a regionwide business permitting process that never takes more than 90 days. The council works to benefit El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.”
Mr. Breton notes, “According to the Arizona Republic, Broome was credited with bringing more than 260 companies and more than 50,000 jobs to the Phoenix area in his decade there.” He is a data person, mining data “to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the cities that hire him. He then uses his powerful personality to sell the upside. He also persuades the cities that hire him to change the way they look at themselves.”
So far, a lot of regional people are skeptical of Mr. Broome – believing him more talk than action.
So why should we in Davis care about all of this? Because it becomes clear that the key to this puzzle is UC Davis.
Mr. Broome said, “I want people to see the next cool city in the western United States.” Part of that messaging is the research centers and the health care market centering around UC Davis.
Mr. Breton writes, “Broome believes Sacramento has been selling itself short for years. The region is the home of one of the great research universities in America – UC Davis.”
A lot of the focus will be around the railyard, which is on the verge of development. But if Sacramento is hoping to remake itself around a “vibrant downtown (that) will help Broome recast Sacramento as a place for entrepreneurs developing robotics, medical devices or working in renewable energy,” there is no reason we can’t look to do the same.
—David M. Greenwald reporting