Silicon Valley is rightfully known as the national and global hub of the technology sector, although there is a lot more than just software that has helped to build and cement the region’s reputation as an epicenter of innovation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the southern Alameda County cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City, which are home to some of the fastest growing and most innovative companies in sectors such as biomedical, cleantech, creative design and advanced manufacturing. These companies are driving the creation of new products and services that are already showing their potential to transform entire industries.

Over the past several months, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) has been leading a study of industrial lands and the companies that occupy them. A few notable findings of this work so far has been the impressive 71.1 million square feet of industrial inventory and more than 60,000 industrial jobs in southern Alameda County, a grouping that includes the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and goods movement sectors. In just these three cities, these industries grew by more than 26,000 jobs, or 77%, in the 10-year period between 2011 and 2021.* Beyond the torrential growth of Tesla, whose Fremont factory is now the largest single site of automobile production in North America, there are many companies in related sectors, such as batteries and other clean technologies, that have helped to fuel these gains. Above and beyond the obvious benefits from the mere growth of these industries is the tremendous promise that they offer to help our world advance toward a less carbon-dependent future.

Rendering of development for life science, R&D and manufacturing in Union City, California

While the presence of world class talent, proximity to Silicon Valley, and strong industrial reputation has obviously had a lot to do with the growth of the East Bay subregion, other less obvious factors have also played a role, particularly the flexibility and proactivity of these cities to embrace and support their development. The City of Fremont has developed considerable expertise about the needs and requirements of these industries, positioning them to establish favorable industrial policies and processes – particularly permit streamlining and flexible building types – that have helped facilitate their rapid growth and development. As a result, there are now almost 50 battery or clean energy companies in Fremont, including Amprius, EnerVenue and Enovix, among others. As this cluster continues to grow, it has similarly expanded into Newark, home to FreeWire’s global headquarters, maker of ultrafast EV charging solutions, as well as luxury electric car maker Lucid Motors. And nearby Union City has also seen growth in the life sciences and manufacturing sectors, with companies such as Emerald Packaging, Finelite and Mizuho OSI located within its borders.

FreeWire’s global headquarters in Newark

Despite growing concerns about the state of the Bay Area economy during continued macroeconomic uncertainty, the evolution, innovation and investment in advanced industries that drove recent growth in southern Alameda County shows little sign of abating. Developers continue to be bullish in the industrial market, acquiring underutilized commercial sites for redevelopment into mixed-use life sciences and advanced manufacturing campuses, such as this property in Union City. Diverse companies and industries in this area are at the center of developing new solutions and technologies in areas such as energy generation and health care, addressing fundamental societal issues and challenges. The need to develop new products and services that can make people healthier and push our society toward a clean energy future is greater than ever, and it is the depth and strength of this innovation ecosystem in Fremont, Newark and Union City that will continue to lead the way forward.

This article was originally published in the San Francisco Business Times for East Bay EDA’s East Bay Hot Spots series. Read the article here.