What U.S. metropolitan area do you think is the “weirdest”? Has the most well-traveled residents? Or has the most creative professionals? According to CEOs for Cities signature study, City Vitals 2.0 (see the report here), that would be the Bay Area’s very own Silicon Valley, a cluster of cities at the heart of the tech world that includes San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.
CEOs for Cities is a learning community and partnership network that connects cross-sector, cross-generational civic CEOs and urban leaders to each other and to smart ideas for making cities more successful. Their research looks at how connected, innovative, talented, and distinctive a city is as its genetic code to success. Out of the 29 benchmarks in the study, Silicon Valley came out on top (51 metro areas were assessed) in nine categories including internet connectivity, patents, venture capital, international talent, and culture.
Where the region could use some work is in areas such as walkability, percentage of people who use public transit, and economic integration, which is a measure of the size of the middle class. These traits speak to how connected a region is, and connections breed success.
San Jose has taken note. The city’s adoption of the general plan update signals a new direction for growth in future decades—a big part of which is to create more compact, walkable urban villages around transit stations and ensuring that these evolving neighborhoods are inclusive of all income levels. New research out of UC Davis and the University of Southern California shows the importance of social equity to sustained economic growth.
While it’s great that San Jose and Silicon Valley are producing the most patents and weirdness in the U.S., this region can be even better if we design our cities so people only have to walk a couple of blocks for their morning coffee, it’s convenient to hop a train to work, and everyone can afford the option of living in a thriving urban village. With such talented residents, Silicon Valley’s future looks to be trending up.