Alameda, which was incorporated more than 120 years ago as a city and is one of only two island cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, has spent the better part of the last decade drawing from its unique assets and noteworthy history to position itself as a place that is creating new companies, industries, and innovations. These efforts and investments are most evident in the city’s main business industrial areas, Alameda Point, Harbor Bay, and Marina Village, where a multitude of companies in sectors ranging from biotech to cleantech to food and life sciences are clustered together, collectively creating an ecosystem that has helped the city garner a reputation as a place for advanced industries to launch and grow.

The biotech and life sciences sectors have recognized Alameda’s amenities and strategic advantages for quite some time, with notable companies like Exelixis and Penumbra choosing more than a decade ago to establish their corporate headquarters there. The presence and success of these two companies has in turn enticed newer businesses such as Checkerspot and Science to also opt to make Alameda their home, with others following suit. Collectively, these moves and signals have helped create an environment in Alameda that is also increasingly attractive to companies and support organizations for early-stage companies and startups, such as Azzur Group and Bay Area Disruptor and Start Up Support Labs (BADASS Labs), which provide important consulting services, equipment, resources, and other tools that reduce the risks and upfront costs associated with starting new ventures in notoriously volatile industry sectors. By creating conditions and supporting an environment for advanced industries to evolve and grow, Alameda has encouraged successful companies to stay and expand in their city while also working to concurrently attract newer, early-stage companies that are well-positioned to benefit from the region’s deep talent pool. This has helped to create a virtuous cycle of growth and experimentation among local-serving companies and sectors as well.

While the development and growth of Alameda’s life sciences cluster has been a remarkable feat, an equally interesting and promising story is unfolding at Alameda Point, the former Naval Air Station that is now home to dozens of companies working across a diverse array of industries, from blue tech to manufacturing to maritime industrial and other local-serving sectors. The built environment and infrastructure around the former navy base have proven to make Alameda Point an attractive location for companies in these industries to launch and grow, with businesses such as DOER MarineNatelPykaRain, and Saildrone all located in former military buildings out at the point. The presence of these companies has also helped to support distilleries and other beverage manufacturers and suppliers at an area known as “Spirits Alley,” including Almanac Beer CompanySt. George’s Spirits, as week as several wine cellars that have chosen to set up shop to serve a growing number of employees, visitors, and residents who have begun to occupy newly constructed housing adjacent to these commercial areas. It is worth noting that in addition to doing a lot to attract and support the growth of innovative new businesses, Alameda is also just one of a few Bay Area cities that has been building housing to support our region’s growth.

Embracing companies in emerging industries has been a winning strategy for the city of Alameda, enabling it to connect to and leverage its past as it continues to chart a new future. The city has helped to support an ethos of experimentation and risk-taking that has helped it move from ideas to action, with the early results of these efforts offering a useful blueprint for the rest of the region about how to effectively leverage the many advantages and strengths that are unique to the Bay Area. Despite some of the headwinds and uncertainties in the current macroeconomic environment, the city of Alameda has strategically and thoughtfully positioned itself for challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, embracing its role as a place that is helping to create the future.

This article was originally published in the San Francisco Business Times for the East Bay Business News series. Read the article here.