Congresswoman Barbara Lee was in Leandro last week to promote innovative manufacturing in the East Bay.
Speaking at the West Gate last Thursday at a “Make it in America” press event, Lee said, “Jump-starting the middle class is really what this is all about.”
Other speakers included San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Rep. Steny Hoyer, and CEO & co-founder of Type A Machines Espen Siversten.
Each spoke about innovation and manufacturing at The Gate.
Cassidy said that the first industrial wave arrived in San Leandro around the end of World War II. The city became an industrial hotbed, a “mini industrial powerhouse,” he said
All this was possible due to investment into city infrastructure, mainly sewer lines. The city once boasted 20,000 jobs in the sector, and 25 percent of city land is still industrially zoned.
Currently, there are about 7,000 manufacturing jobs in San Leandro, according to Cassidy.
In the past, West Gate produced Dodges, Caterpillars, and Chrysler engines until the factory finally closed in the 1970s and was converted into a shopping mall and warehouse.
Since then, the building has seen its share of good and bad days and almost had to close its doors.
But that changed when Lit San Leandro installed a 10-gigabit fiber optic line into the building, which connected the business and art center to the 11.5-mile network installed throughout San Leandro in 2012.
After this installation, The Gate became a 3D printing hub. A coalition of 12 companies, dubbed BAAM (Bay Area Advanced Manufacturing Hub), is the world’s “Largest cluster of 3D-printing-related companies under one roof.”
The companies that are a part of BAAM have already proved beneficial for the local business community. Copper Harbor, a chemical plant, saved 95 percent on production for a new part by using modern and locally sourced methods.
The Gate is not only a technological hub but an artistic one as well. Cheryl Edison, community director, says they two are not necessarily exclusive. C
Cross-pollination of ideas is perhaps the best catalyst for innovation, said Edison.
Edison goes further to say it was not until the inception of the “Art-Tech-Makers” motto at The Gate that created demand for space. Now, demand for space far exceeds capacity in the building.
West Gate is located at 1933 Davis St. in San Leandro near Freeway 880. For more information go to http://www.westgatesanleandro.com/