2009 was a rough year. We learned the hard way that Silicon Valley is not immune to the larger forces at work in the global economic recession. Like other regions, we have lost tens of thousands of jobs, absorbed thousands of home foreclosures, and seen our incomes decline. Despite our many strengths—from talented people to world-class technology—we could not insulate ourselves from the larger economic downturn.
Now we are at a critical moment. We must face facts and address the vulnerabilities that put our economy and community at risk.
This year’s Index provides a sobering picture of our current situation and contains critical information we will need to move forward. In addition to the Index itself, we present a Special Analysis which is a call to action based on these facts. It suggests Silicon Valley has entered a new era of uncertainty, with a set of vulnerabilities that could compromise our long-term prosperity. Our continued ability to import and develop talent, fund innovation, and rely on state government for overall support are seriously in question. We are a region at risk.
This is not a time for complacency. At a time when we need to engage more actively in the global economy, the very foundations for that engagement are weakening. We’re disinvesting in education and we’re not cultivating talent. Our state is no longer able to make crucial investments in infrastructure. Gridlock in Sacramento has become a major barrier to our ability to compete abroad and solve problems here at home.
Of course we still have many strengths as an innovation economy, and as a vibrant community. Silicon Valley competes at a very high level with other advanced regions in the global economy. But we must continue to build on these strengths if we are to maintain our position in a world that is rapidly rising to challenge us. From the rise of Asian economies to California’s budget meltdown, our future will in many ways depend on how we respond to forces emanating beyond our region.
To maintain our customary place in the world economy we must face the facts, challenge our assumptions, and address these new realities with the ingenuity and drive that has always been a hallmark of our Valley. Joint Venture and Silicon Valley Community Foundation are working together to help our region meet these challenges. We hope this year’s Index and Special Analysis will be a catalyst for action.
Russell Hancock, Ph.D.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network