“Realistically, no one county can support an industry at scale, but as a region we are powerful” observes Rob Eyler, CEO of the Marin Economic Forum, a significant partner in the North Bay Life Science Initiative.
“For life sciences businesses, critical elements like commercial real estate, residential choice, and labor force must be drawn from a relatively wide area. Marin County cannot support this growth on its own, but can succeed by finding the right niche in the North Bay. For now, that looks like research and development and pharmaceuticals.”
When describing the advantages of regional niche-focus, Eyler points to existing life science manufacturing, warehousing and distribution in Solano County, extols the benefits of Marin County's location as a center for research and corporate headquarters, Sonoma County's focus on medical device manufacturing, and Napa County’s plant and agricultural science businesses. Finding a regional niche “reduces intra-area competition, and helps potential businesses find the best places to land quickly. It also spreads the population working in these industries throughout a regional market.”
The Marin Economic Forum was founded in 2010 to enable the region’s economic stakeholders to collaborate on improving the County’s economic viability. The forum draws sponsorship and executive leadership from local government, academia, and companies based in, or doing business in Marin. As such it mirrors the cross-region collaboration that the NBLSA is designed to foster. Comments Eyler, “I’ve rarely seen multiple counties in the North Bay rally around an economic development idea so quickly.”
Eyler believes the momentum is in the North Bay’s favor, reflecting that for life sciences, “the labor demographic is an older and more educated one than typical high-tech businesses : the core product is science. This fits the demography of Marin County for sure. The North Bay can win by having many of the right workers in place, and a lifestyle that will be attractive to people considering a career in the North Bay.”