In our last Marin Business Forum gathering on January 17, Robert Eyler, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis and the Executive MBA program at Sonoma State University, offered his perspective on the economic forces shaping the future of Marin County.
In a session entitled, Business Vitality in Marin – Bay Area Is A Growth Market, Eyler outlined the findings from his research, and highlighted some of the trends that we will see in the future for Marin. While Marin County continues to be a robust business community and promises continued growth, there are factors that will dictate the type of growth we can expect.
For example, two of the biggest factors affecting Marin County are the labor force and traffic. Cost of living pressures are limiting the available workforce between the ages of 21 and 40 – they just can’t afford to live in the immediate area. And traffic congestions and road construction restrictions are making it harder for businesses and commuters.
What Eyler did point out is that, with the advent of telecommunications technology and the Internet, California and Marin County are becoming “the bedroom community for the world.” The number of self-employed entrepreneurs and telecommuters is on the rise, and local residents are working remotely for global companies, which is having a profound impact on Marin’s sense of community. Everyone is telecommuting and the sense of community is now limited to Starbucks of Peets.
What are the growth markets for Marin? According to Eyler, tourism will be on the rise as Marin continues to attract visitors who stop on their way to wine country or San Francisco. The upcoming America’s Cup race will be a big factor in boosting tourism. Technology and biotechnology will continue to grow, although Elyer notes this has been a quiet expansion since much of Marin is not zoned to accommodate technology so some of these start-ups stay below the radar; the zoning laws will have to change to see real growth. And there also will be growth in alternative medicine and finance. Other sectors that have seen a boom in the past, such as construction, will continue to struggle.
But no matter how you look at it, Marin County will continue to blossom as a business community because of the lifestyle it offers and its proximity to San Francisco. What will fuel that growth will be an influx of new talent, new capital, and new infrastructure such as broadband.
Here are just a few photos from our last gathering. Be sure to visit our web site again to see what’s coming in the next Marin Business Forum.