Analysis: Sacramento’s Emergence in Economic Development Can Only Help Davis

The efforts of Sacramento are starting to pay off and the push will only help Davis as the home of UC Davis makes its push for high tech economic development.

As the Bee put it over the weekend, “Long seen as little more than a government town, Sacramento is rising in the ranks of cities where young entrepreneurs and startup companies want to stake a claim.”

The analysis by CommercialCafe, a national internet-based commercial real estate blog, and data provider, put Sacramento as the 11th best area in the country for startups “as it increasingly becomes a landing spot for young workers and businesses who find Bay Area rents and real estate tough on fledgling businesses.”

The Bee notes: “The ranking suggests a recent push by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and business leaders to link the city to the Bay Area as a super-regional tech and startup incubator is paying dividends.”

“The once sleepy government town is ripe for new tech companies to take shape here and feed the early-stage startup scene,” analysts at CommercialCafe wrote.

Writes CommercialCafe: “With a 45% increase over five years in the number of jobs in computer, engineering, and science occupations, Sacramento placed first for tech employment growth. Census data showed that the number of residents aged 25 to 39 with a science and engineering bachelor’s degree or more increased by 16.6%, marking the largest percentage increase in tech educated talent pool.”

A 2017 report by JLL identified Sacramento as a “hidden gem” for “its rich talent pool of computer programmers due to local science-grounded colleges like California State University at Sacramento and University of California at Davis.”

They add: “The report also noted the relative affordability of tech-skilled labor. In fact, among the cities on this list, Sacramento placed first for wage growth. BLS data on computer, mathematical, architecture, and engineering occupations showed that Sacramento saw the slowest average increase in median income. Moreover, the California state capital ranked among the top 10 for affordability of housing.”

That should be good news for Davis as well.  Part of the basis for the ranking is the talent pool coming out of UC Davis.  This ranking is even before the major new Aggie Square effort gets underway.

Davis remains the sleeping giant here, as Barry Broome from Greater Sacramento put it last fall upon his visit: “I like to refer to Davis as the front door to the Silicon Valley for the region.”

Sacramento has put more emphasis on attracting startups and younger workers who might have otherwise chosen the Bay Area to launch their careers.

Greater Sacramento, the Bee notes, “has been part of the push to position the Sacramento region as a startup hub.”

“As we assist startups desiring to locate in the Greater Sacramento region, one of the main selling points is the access to talent and the second point is the affordability factor,” a GSAC spokeswoman wrote on Monday.

They added, “Sacramento is truly moving from being a government town and startups are seeing the advantages of locating in a region that retains a well-educated workforce and the costs associated with building a new business are not astronomical.”

The key for Davis – as with Sacramento – is the proximity to the University.

Barry Broome explained: “UC Davis has the opportunity to be among the most impactful universities on climate change, farming, food security.

“Innovation has to be within 200 yards,” he said.  “If you look at these successful research parks… the exchange between industry, commercial technology and important solutions like how do we feed the world in 2050, that is a point-blank range relationship between the industries that are trying to solve the problems, the faculty that are developing contemporary research and the students that are being trained to go into the industry and solve that problem.”

For Davis, one of the barriers has been lack of space.  Davis is a community that doesn’t want to be impacted by growth and development, Barry Broome said, but added that what we need to do “is empower ideas that match the values of the residents of Davis.”

For years, Davis has been looking at creating a research park.

“It’s a bit of a frustration that we haven’t been able to figure out how to take this research park forward between the city and between the university,” he said.

But that could change in the coming year as the Aggie Research Campus has been proposed.

Barry Broome explained, “I would love to see the city of Davis have a global reputation as a city and a community.  We have a great reputation inside California, but I would like to see that resonate nationally.”

As Sacramento has success, that will only help improve the entire region, Davis and UC Davis included.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Tia Will

     Davis is a community that doesn’t want to be impacted by growth and development,”

    I would like to rephrase this comment. Davis is a community that doesn’t want to be adversely impacted by growth and development. One asset Davis/Sacramento share is the ease of travel by train between the two communities. Increasing numbers of young science/tech credentialed individuals from the Bay area seeking both employment and housing in this area need not limit themselves to living and working in the same community since there is quick, easy and affordable transit between the two. Now if we could just work with Woodland to make such transport as readily available between our two communities.

    1. Richard McCann

      The rail commute to Sacramento is still fairly expensive and intermittent. I see many fewer getting on the train toward Sac than toward the Bay Area when I ride from Davis. And that line only exists because of Davis’ position between Sac and the Bay Area. A Davis-Woodland line would not be financially viable. Heavy rail is not a particularly attractive means of moving people except at very high travel volumes. Buses (including dedicated roadways) are preferable for many reasons.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Agree, Richard… but the existing r/w should be preserved between Davis/Woodland… whether it eventually heavy rail, light rail (wonder if light rail could have the same gauge wheels/axles as heavy rail.

        Davis/Woodland service is not viable now… but unless the r/w is preserved, it will never be…

        I see rail service (light or heavy, or some technology not yet in our tool box) for passengers on that corridor 20-100 years out… but we should not close off options…

    2. Bill Marshall

      Looking forward (perhaps 10, 25, 50 years), that is precisely why the rail link (track and R/W between Davis and Woodland) should not be vacated and used for other purposes…  even if it goes to light rail (unlikely, but a possibility), the R/W should be preserved by the public (although currently, technically, private) to keep options open… including but not limited to, a ‘rail to trail’ conversion…

      Your point about working with Woodland (and SACOG?), is “spot on”… IMHO

  2. Craig Ross

    Sadly a few years ago Davis was positioned to really take this region by storm.  But we got in our own way and now we risk playing catch up at best and at worst missing the board all together.  If you read the other article, you realize that the path forward to sustainability is fairly narrow.

    1. John Hobbs

      “We have a great reputation inside California, ”
      Nope, sorry. You have the reputation for being clannish and arrogant. You really need to stop believing your own hype.
      “Sadly a few years ago Davis was positioned to really take this region by storm.  But we got in our own way and now we risk playing catch up at best and at worst missing the board all together.”

      I think the boat has already sailed on sustainability for Davis. We’re at the tail-end of a small boom and by 2021 we’ll be into another recession. There are too many places willing to facilitate broader needs and concepts than Davisville.

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