Walnut Creek, Calif. enjoys many pleasures: proximity to wine country, noted artistic prowess, unique recreational opportunities – and a diverse business economy. The midsized city supports a broad variety of industries, drawing on its strong education system to provide a steady, reliable workforce.
One of Walnut Creek’s most prominent employers is the health care industry, which largely comprises the city’s two hospitals: Kaiser Permanente Hospital and John Muir Medical Center. Between them, the facilities employ roughly 20 percent of the community’s workforce. Alongside the city’s burgeoning health care sector, the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California operate the Joint Genome Institute, which places Walnut Creek at the forefront of the biotech industry. The facility brings together research from five national laboratories – Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest – as well as the Stanford Human Genome Center. In addition to its health care and scientific acumen, Walnut Creek is also an attractive destination for high-profile corporate headquarters.
The city is home to Systems Integrated Solutions, Inc., which was named by INC. 500 among America’s Top 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies and by the San Francisco Business Times among the Bay Area’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies for six consecutive years. Additionally, the California State Automobile Association announced in fall 2007 that they planned to relocate their corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Walnut Creek.
Their 255,000-square-foot facility near a BART transit station is expected to be complete in 2009. Although large corporations more often make the headlines, it is the small business community that stabilizes Walnut Creek’s economy. A report released in 2003 by the city’s economic development department revealed that nearly 90 percent of businesses in Walnut Creek had 25 or fewer employees. The successful retail sector of the city is epitomized by the open-air Broadway Plaza shopping center, which features a variety of mid- to high-end shops and department stores such as Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel and local favorite David M. Brian.