An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump

The following letter, addressed Nov. 11, 2016, was mailed to President-Elect Trump by San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Matthew Mahood:

 

On behalf of Silicon Valley business leaders, I want to congratulate you on your recent election to the Presidency of the United States. Your election as our nation’s 45th chief executive continues a 228-year tradition of the transfer of power from one government administration to another which stands as the hallmark of American democracy. Each has been accompanied by the enormous responsibility contained in the Office of the President, and yours more so in that the nation remains so deeply divided and the world uncertain. We face a rapidly changing and innovating economy, and with that comes trepidation and often fear; you remain in all our thoughts and prayers for strength and leadership in healing the external and internal wounds that we all face.

Silicon Valley is the global capital of innovation. This is not just a catch phrase. Here we innovate, we don’t replicate; we lead, we don’t follow. You, as a successful businessman, can easily judge our region and state by the results: California has a GDP of $2.5 trillion, represents 10% of the national population (and 14% of its GDP), and if it were separate nation would be the seventh largest GDP in the world (greater than France, India and Italy). We produce mobile devices and social media, yes, but we also manufacture. Silicon Valley is leading the state, the nation and the world into the new economy, and we need a White House that leads with us.

We are also a region of diversity, across all lines. As a state, we voted to legalize recreational marijuana but to keep the death penalty. As a region, we voted to self-fund affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. Our cities supported their education systems, at the same time that we, as a state, continued the new 1% tax on the highest income Californians in order to invest in the critical education and infrastructure this new economy needs to thrive.

We vote this way because we believe in investing in ourselves to protect a strong and robust economy. But we can’t keep our economy growing, and the nation’s along with it, without your help and the help of the federal government.

As a start, we are asking for your help in a few critical areas:

We need corporate repatriation of funds to be made more seamless. We were heartened by your position during the campaign that you would work to see this issue through, stating that “even if they paid nothing it would be a good deal. Because they’ll take that money and use it for other things.” We agree. Corporate investment in the critical needs of this nation is vital to its long-term success, and their investment in the long-term size and strength of a diverse workforce is critical to this region.

We need investment in failing infrastructure – roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, water delivery, and ports. We were also heartened by your call, in your gracious election night acceptance speech, to work with Congress towards that end. When you are doing this, however, please do not forget that the infrastructure of the past is not the status quo going forward; new technologies around autonomous vehicles, high-speed rail, mass rapid transit and improved and connected health care technologies are all in their infant stages. Please work with us to let us help you make sure America stays in the lead on these areas, the same way we have innovated on infrastructure over the past 200 years.

We need comprehensive immigration reform, and across-the-board policies that incentivize a diverse and inclusive workforce. We would be remiss if we did not say that the rhetoric of your campaign was often troubling for many of us to hear. That said, we want to work with you to put together a governing strategy that benefits California’s diverse economy and all Americans.

Over half of San Jose residents are either foreign-born or are the children of immigrant parents; many of the Fortune 500 companies that make up Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants or their children; our employers depend on global competition for talent – it is not limited to national and state boundaries – and that global competition requires American competitive advantage. Nearly 30% of the 729,000 young workers who were eligible for the workforce through DACA are Californians. In crafting your administration policies, please do not take these competitive advantages away from a region that economically advantages America.

We need free and open trade to continue to thrive. We understand the pain that many trade agreements have caused throughout the nation – including here. Make no mistake, we are not immune to the inequality and change that comes with a globalizing world economy. But Canada is our number one export partner, China number two, and Mexico number three. Our ability to export means economic growth, and that economic growth means jobs and the closing of the inequality gap.

Additionally, the world comes to Silicon Valley to relocate and innovate, and that improves opportunity for us all. Just last week, I met and signed a strategic agreement with a Southeast Asian nation to help bring 26 start-ups to Silicon Valley. We must make sure they feel that America is as welcome a place as Silicon Valley, because one is not mutually exclusive of the other.

As you build our nation’s new administration, I encourage you to reach across party lines to hire and appoint the best and the brightest to guide you. Economic policy is not bound by a county, state or national boundary. Ours is a global economy that is knitted together. Silicon Valley can help guide this discussion, and its leaders are ready to answer the call.

Work with our Congressional delegation: Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (long an advocate for the policies just detailed), and our newly-elected member of Congress: Ro Khanna.

More importantly, work with us. Work with the innovators and entrepreneurs who have already made America great and done so from here in the Silicon Valley. Our door is open to you – please come visit, have dialogue, send your administration officials, and begin the conversation with us. We will support you; we ask only that you keep your mind open to the values that make California a leader and an example for the world. Invest in us, and we will invest in you.

May God bless you in your Presidency and may God bless America.