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Tim Talk: Recognizing the Tri-Valley's younger influential leaders

San Francisco Business Times publisher Mary Huss shares opening remarks at the 2023 State of the Tri-Valley event on Sept. 7.

The annual State of the Tri-Valley Thursday evening marked the swan song for CEO Lynn Naylor who is moving on to the leadership role with a new non-profit organization focused on helping children and the environment.

Naturally, she and her team innovated by looking to the future and recognizing 20 people under 40ish (whatever that means). It was the highlight of the evening and made the panels that followed, despite their distinguished speakers, almost an after-thought. The event took place at the Roundhouse Conference Center in Bishop Ranch.

Tim Hunt
Tim Hunt. Contributed photo

The mistress of ceremonies was Joy Ofodu, who grew up in the Tri-Valley and has established her own media company here and become an influencer, business woman and entertainer. She offered the honorees a choice of three questions to quickly answer as organizers attempted to move through the honorees respectfully and quickly.

During the real estate discussion Alex Mehran Jr. cited the Trillo CEO when asked about commercial real estate moving forward. Trillo is committed to being fully remote. To make that work, they’ve established private coffee shops, sites to gather for off-site meetings and showrooms for customers and recruiting. He thinks that could be a model for companies moving forward.

The president and CEO of Sunset Development Co. is leading a remarkable transformation of Bishop Ranch from a business park filled with office buildings to a suburban downtown anchored by the CityCenter hub that will eventually be surrounded by 4,500 housing units.

Sunset also purchased back Chevron Park and its 92 acres on the southside from the energy company and will relocate its corporate headquarters into the former PacBell headquarters at 2600 Camino Ramon. Chevron will shed about 1 million square feet of office space. Sunset already is working with the city on plans for thousands of homes plus other space in that huge parcel.

What’s notable about the Sunset plans is they’re knocking down buildings that are 30-40 years old and redeveloping the space to meet the new vision.

Joining Mehran on the panel was Rich Hoyt of Newmark. He thought the challenging market could be helpful in the long run as companies evaluated their needs in today’s reality and adjusted. He noted that vacancy in downtown San Francisco has soared from 3% to 33%, while it climbed in the Tri-Valley from about 14% to 22%.

He thought San Ramon was transforming to the point that a person who grew up here would be willing to return here to raise their family.

Don Marek, senior vice president of commercial lending at sponsoring Fremont Bank, had a couple of the best lines of the night. He commented what did it say about those of us who were attending and listening to a banker while the opening game of the National Football League was being played. He also joked that all of the name badges that weren’t picked up belonged to people in his fantasy football league.

Editor's note: "Tim Talk" is a blog written by Tim Hunt, a native of Alameda County. Hunt spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in addition to writing editorials for more than 15 years. 

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