It turns out manufacturing is far from dead in the Bay Area. No question the nature of manufacturing is changing; the big semiconductor fabricating plants of the last century are gone. They are being replaced by much smaller operations generally producing sophisticated electronics and early iterations of products designed by Silicon Valley’s best and brightest.

And manufacturing is part of the conversation again in Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area. Here’s what some experts are saying about the revival of making things in the region.

  • “It’s certainly not like it was in the ’70s or the ’80s. It’s still a strong part of our economy, but it’s a much more sophisticated part of the overall manufacturing economy. We are not the low-price leader. It tends to be more final assembly and testing and very sophisticated manufacturing, product introduction. That’s what we see from our members.”– Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • “When you put all these trends together, within the next five to seven years the tides shift in a big way. Design is in Silicon Valley. Manufacturing comes back to where design is. Silicon Valley is now in the catbird seat. It’s all about design. It’s all about software.”– Vivek Wadhwa, vice president of academics and innovation at Singularity University, a Mountain View think tank and academic organization working on solving problems with technology
  • “I’m very heartened by how robust and advanced manufacturing is in Silicon Valley; how critical manufacturing is to the Silicon Valley ecosystem, especially when it comes to new product innovation and new product introduction, which I think is the core of what Silicon Valley has to contribute to the world.”– Kim Walesh, director of economic development, city of San Jose
  • “No CEO in his right mind, with options available to him, would ever put manufacturing in Silicon Valley. It’s awful on every dimension.”– T.J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor
  • “We’re not going to go back to the 1950s, where you had hundreds of machinists lined up in an automotive factory, because we have the automation, but the fact is we’re still the No. 1 manufacturing country in the world.”– Mark Martin, Stanford University lecturer and expert on advanced manufacturing
  • The whole idea of onshoring or re-shoring, there is a lot more to it than just, ‘How much am I paying in labor dollars?’ for instance. I think the future of manufacturing in the Bay Area does look bright. The Bay Area is ideally suited from the perspective of the port in Oakland, the ability to export. I think the Bay Area will remain an ideal location.”– Karen Burns, co-founder of East Bay Manufacturing Group