When David Packard of Hewlett-Packard founded the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in the late 1970’s, he was determined that the organization be committed to focusing on its members and community. With this goal in mind, we developed the Ten Strategic Cities Initiative to strengthen our local government outreach and advance solutions to regional challenges.
Our members identified ten cities that form the basis for this initiative. They include Cupertino, Fremont, Milpitas, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale. They were selected because they form the core of traditional Silicon Valley and collectively house 188 of the Leadership Group’s member companies. In addition, our members have identified them as the highest priority cities for elected official outreach. By concentrating our advocacy efforts on these ten municipalities, the Leadership Group will be strategically-positioned to effectively engage on the local issues that matter to our members.
The implementation of the Ten Strategic Cities Initiative has four components. First, we build a presence within each Strategic City and then deepen that presence by engaging policymakers and stakeholders within each city. As this presence continues to solidify, we will expand the initiative to include more of our members in this effort.
Next, Leadership Group staff are assigned a local community to “own,” whereby they stay on top of current events within their community by tracking issues on city council agendas, making public comment at city meetings, and fostering relationships with that community’s elected officials and sister organizations.
Third, the Government Relations (GR) team spends a good deal of time concentrating on local policy. This is reflected through localized roundtables known as Local Government Days, where our members have the opportunity to connect with the Mayors and councilmembers who craft the policies that affect our member companies at the local level. The GR team also administers the Candidate Questionnaire for local and state races, and they coordinate the subsequent Candidate Forums for each election cycle. In addition to strengthening the Leadership Group’s relationships with elected officials in Strategic Cities, GR staff strives to give our membership the opportunity to build those relationships individually.
Finally, the work done by the GR team is complemented by the Leadership Group’s housing and transportation teams. Their advocacy is split between the local and state levels. Locally, they engage Mayors and councilmembers on housing developments and transportation initiatives in one-on-one meetings and through their testimony at public meetings. At the state level, engagement occurs in individual meetings as well as during the Leadership Group’s annual Sacramento Advocacy Trip.
In the coming months, the Leadership Group hopes to expand the Strategic Cities Initiative with the addition of a Strategic Cities Task Force. This task force will consist of member representatives that have a significant presence in each strategic city. By extending the Leadership Group’s presence in these cities, we will increase our overall influence, and assist our members to build and strengthen crucial local relationships.
– Aakash Vashee, Government Relations Associate, Silicon Valley Leadership Group | December 17, 2019