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Resilient East Bay Featured in the Hacienda Pulse

Livermore-based Gillig manufacturers zero-emission battery electric buses. Photo: Gillig.

By Deborah Branscum, Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer

The Coast Manufacturing and Supply Company was founded in 1867 to manufacture safety fuses for explosives used in the mining industry. In 1914, the company moved to a new facility in Livermore. In honor of the company’s 70th anniversary, company head Thomas W. Norris explained to an Oakland Tribune newspaper reporter that Coast Manufacturing had moved to Livermore for “the dry climate, reasonable price of real estate, transportation facilities, and favorable labor conditions.” As the reporter noted, “Safety fuses from this factory are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippines, the West Coast of Mexico and Central America, and to Alaska, advertising with a product of high merit the fact that Livermore offers innumerable advantages to a manufacturing concern of world distribution.”

Resilient East Bay

Coast Manufacturing, which ended in 1968, is far from the only concern to discover the benefits of an East Bay location. According to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA), the region’s biomedical, cleantech, electronics, food and beverage, and transportation industries spanned across 3,500 businesses, encompassed 150,000 jobs, and contributed over $40.7 billion in gross regional product in 2022. Those impressive numbers were made possible in part by the region’s industrial lands, which allow so many innovative industries to call the East Bay and Tri-Valley home.

In 2021, East Bay EDA received a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in support of the region’s manufacturing and related industries, which had been hit hard by the pandemic. East Bay EDA began work with partners and stakeholders on the Resilient East Bay Initiative to offer important business resources. Stakeholders included company officials, city agencies, and the development community. One of the results of the grant was the Resilient East Bay website, which was launched in October 2023.

This important resource includes industry profiles and recommendations, a searchable resource directory for manufacturers, an interactive industry map, and related publications and research. The Resilient East Bay initiative “seeks to enhance connectivity and advance partnerships between business, and education, government, and others to ensure that our manufacturing ecosystem receives ongoing investment and support. It is a cross-sector initiative supported by civic and industry leaders who bring expertise, networks, and resources to ensure our region remains dynamic and responsive to industry needs and technological advances,” according to East Bay EDA officials.

Industrial Lands Toolkit

Preparation for the initiative and website included investigating the needs of major East Bay industries as well as surveying existing resources. The organization learned that industries were facing outdated zoning policies, inconsistent land use policies, and residential conflicts. The conversion of industrial lands to other uses was also an issue.

With that information, East Bay EDA staff members and its partners worked to develop practical tools and regional strategies to help policy makers improve land use planning and preserve industrial lands to support ongoing economic innovation, according to Carline Au, Head of Planning and Strategy. “The East Bay’s industrial lands are one of the Bay Area’s greatest strategic advantages, enabling our economy to stay globally competitive,” Au says. “Our supply has allowed the region to have a diverse, dynamic, inclusive, and innovative economy.”

“The unique aspect of the East Bay’s manufacturing sector is that it is incredibly diverse and, as a result, very resilient and strong,” notes Stephen Baiter, Executive Director. “We can’t take any of that for granted and need to pay attention to the work we’ve been doing in the industrial land and real estate space.”

Some of that work can be seen in the Industrial Lands section of the new website. The section includes an Industrial Market Insights report and Industrial Land Use Toolkit that “draw upon ten months of extensive research, including input from local and regional public agencies, brokers, and developers who participated in a series of Industrial Lands Working Group meetings from December 2022 through June 2023.”

East Bay EDA and their partners believe that “retaining and developing industrial land is essential to the East Bay’s robust, inclusive, and resilient economy. East Bay industrial land is home to a diverse group of industries that provide middle-wage jobs and innovative technology development and production. This land is also vital for greenhouse gas reduction strategies–enabling the East Bay to produce and transport goods more sustainably, source materials locally, and reduce shipment distances.”

Hacienda and the larger Tri-Valley have land and facilities suitable for newly important industries such as life sciences as well as more traditional manufacturing industries. The resources offered by the Resilient East Bay website and the specific Industrial Lands section provide a key set of tools for the region to use to help capture economic activity in this sector. Those tools were created to help public officials and other stakeholders build additional opportunities for growth.

“For many reasons, there has been tremendous job growth in the East Bay over the last decade in the manufacturing sector,” says Baiter, who notes that East Bay EDA is hosting the 2024 East Bay Innovation Awards on March 28. “The interconnection between industrial lands and commercial real estate supporting that growth are inextricably linked. We must continue to pay attention to the dynamics around how those businesses operate and preserve the lands where they are physically sited if we are to help them sustain their growth and create future opportunities.”

The Resilient East Bay Initiative as a whole is also important because it conveys another message as well. “No East Bay community or business can be successful on its own,” according to Au. “We have over thirty cities in the East Bay, each with its own unique advantages and challenges. Our businesses rely on the collection of public investments that provide the core infrastructure for them to be successful–the roads, bridges, highways, utility services, ports, and so on. That also includes industrial buildings and technology. Each East Bay community benefits from the region’s economic diversity, contributing to its overall success. Businesses in each community rely on the region to provide workers and markets for their products. There is a lot of interregional goods movement that comes through our neighboring areas. That makes it important for all of our communities to stay connected to this regional ecosystem.”

For more information about the 2024 East Bay Innovation Awards, please visit

This article was published by the Hacienda Pulse on February 20, 2024. 

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