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Only in Berkeley • August 10, 2009

ZERO! The answer is ZERO.

On April 19 of this year, the SF Chronicle published its annual list of the 200 largest publicly-traded companies headquartered in the Bay area.  Given that Berkeley has two percent of the Bay Area population, on that basis alone you would expect that four of these two hundred companies would be in Berkeley .  Add to that the University of California campus and the absence of substantial firms becomes all the more confounding.  Almost all of Silicon Valley traces back to Stanford, SRI (originally the Stanford Research Institute), Stanford academics and/or Stanford graduates.  Where is the UC spillover?  Furthermore, the superb central location of Berkeley within the Bay Area is also a significant asset.  Given all this, one would expect that we-are-not-anti-business Berkeley would have even more than its share of the area’s largest firms. 

So, how many of the 200 largest firms call Berkeley home?  Zero.  The answer is zero. That must be because big firms need suburban-type environments with extensive green area and parking.  Well, evidently not.  Tiny Emeryville, indistinguishable from Berkeley if you don’t know where the border is, has four firms on the list, one of which is Peets Coffee which began at Walnut and Vine in Berkeley .  There is a pattern of successful firms starting in Berkeley and going elsewhere when their needs expand.  (Noah’s Bagles at Alcatraz and College is the flagship store for that company.)  That would include their physical needs but also their need to be encouraged and welcomed by local government rather than hassled and harassed.  Do you think that a disproportionate number of large firms in Emeryville has anything to do their come-on-down attitude toward business? 

Larger firms generate more income, more employment, and more tax revenue than smaller ones.  They also have a multiplier effect because their economic activities support other businesses, both because of what they spend locally and because of the payroll they generate. 

Did you notice Toyota of Berkeley is now in El Cerrito ?  They would obviously rather be in Berkeley or they would have changed their name to Toyota of El Cerrito.  They are right next door to Target, which is wholly in the City El Cerrito but on land which backs right up to the Berkeley border.  You know the Target I am talking about.  It’s the one that generates all the sales tax revenue for El Cerrito . 

That Berkeley is business-friendly is propaganda put out from City Hall.  It is in fact no such thing as any business person who has tried to deal with them knows in his  head and even more so at a visceral level in his gut. 

  Albert Sukoff


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