Press Release


Marin Voice: Novato there is more there than meets the eye

By Christopher L. Stewart

October 3, 2016— Judging the economic vitality of a city is often more than what the statistics reveal.

Nonetheless, those numbers and the research that goes into “discovering” them are part and parcel of how Novato residents judge the effectiveness of their city government and the managers and elected officials who create and administer the city’s budget.

Novato asked the Marin Economic Forum and its chief economist, Rob Eyler, to review available data and to provide an assessment that eyes the past, measures the present and forecasts the future. It is not an easy task, but a necessary one.

For Novato, the overlay to this comprehensive report is the continuing presence and importance of the life-science industry, which includes three major corporations (Raptor, Ultragenyx and BioMarin) as well as the Buck Institute.

Providing jobs for more than 1,400 life-science employees in Novato, these four employers serve as “attractors” to other life-science businesses. Overall, there are at least 15 Novato-based employers which provide both measurable and predictive outcomes as life-science businesses in all areas important to the city.

While it is our own home-grown and local businesses that provide the backbone to our town, the life sciences companies located throughout Novato, in Hamilton, in office buildings around the city and in Bel Marin Keys help make the city the vibrant community that it is.

It is within this context that this report was produced.

Life sciences companies are important because they provide high-paying jobs, attract highly educated employees, influence home values, create commuting patterns, bring families who demand excellence in education in our schools and contribute revenues to affiliated and non-affiliated businesses within the community.

The report, available at, provides data, charts and statistics that illuminate a city growth pattern that has lowered the unemployment rate to just above 3 percent from a figure of more than 9 percent only seven years ago.

In the past 15 years, Novato’s population has grown by 6,700 and employment, over the past three years, has reached an all-time high of 24,700. How those jobs break out provides insights into traffic patterns and congestion.

Nearly as many residents commute to a job outside of Novato (43 percent) as those who commute to jobs within the city (44 percent), meaning that about 11 percent commute to jobs in the city.

These commute patterns may well change with the continued widening of “the Narrows” and with the advent of the SMART system later this year or in early 2017.

The report paints a bright future for the city. Our businesses produced $4.8 billion in goods and services, with over $700 million of that in retail sales for local establishments like restaurants, hotels, bars and consumer goods companies.

While we will continue to be faced with issues involving housing, traffic congestion and the need to continually encourage business development to support the lifestyle that we all value, the numbers are encouraging and the future is bright.

Novato continues to be an important driver in the economic vitality of the county.

Life sciences companies now and into the future will be a significant contributor to our growth and to what makes the city a great place to live and to conduct business.

  Copyright © 2019 TOBIN and Associates. All rights reserved.