This study presents a rich fact-base and poses some very relevant questions for Silicon Valley residents and leaders. It is a part of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network’s long term commitment to sustaining and improving the economic, social, and environmental conditions in the region. Our goal is to promote an economy that continues to astonish us all, while at the same time working with civic and community leaders to sustain a livable environment, create an inclusive society, and ensure the highest possible quality of life for all residents.
Silicon Valley’s civic and business leaders need to address a number of key questions:
- Do we want Silicon Valley to continue in its leadership role in a truly global Internet economy? The answer is a resounding “yes,” according to JointVenture Silicon Valley’s 2010 Community Report. Most Silicon Valley executives want Silicon Valley to remain the primary hub of both technology innovation and entrepreneurial business initiatives.
- How can Silicon Valley maintain leadership without further straining its quality of life? Growth needs to be managed so problems aren’t made worse. Perhaps one way is to position Silicon Valley as a giant incubator where new companies are established and nurtured. Rather than staying, they will be encouraged to expand to or relocate in other regions once they are stable. An alternate plan would be to focus on retaining existing companies and putting less effort into attracting new startups. Public discussion of this is clearly needed.
- And, of course, there are other related questions. If Silicon Valley plays the role of a giant entrepreneurial incubator—where companies based elsewhere come to establish “outposts of innovation”—how will that affect the long-term economic health of Silicon Valley? The social fabric and culture? How can Silicon Valley take a leadership role in resolving social issues such as the Digital Divide? What initiatives can the local governments in Silicon Valley undertake? Will the expansion of regional transportation infrastructure, such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), provide needed transit relief? Is more affordable housing possible?
The responses to these questions will have a fundamental impact on the future of the Silicon Valley. What is needed: an on-going, open, and constructive public discussion—one in which the entire community participates.