San Jose Inside has invited candidates in the San Jose mayor's race to submit op-eds. We will continue to publish these opinion pieces as they come in, from now until the June primary.—Editor
The next mayor of San Jose must continue to promote economic development and capitalize on the momentum started by Mayor Chuck Reed and the city council, while dealing with many other serious responsibilities. That is why, if I am elected as your mayor, I will create the position of Mayor’s Business Advocate (MBA) within my administration without increasing the mayor's office budget.
Currently, San Jose has over $1.5 billion in economic development projects under construction. We have several businesses, including Western Digital and Electric Cloud, planning to expand their operations here and create jobs, while resident high-rises are going up downtown. This is great news.
We have worked to “move at the speed of business,” and despite numerous incentive programs it is clear we still need to do more. The ratio of jobs compared to housing in San Jose is still abysmally low, and increasing it will require adding tools to our economic development efforts. We must be more proactive in addressing the needs of business, and actively working with them to provide the amenities needed to spur job growth.
My MBA will do this through three core responsibilities: actively scouting new businesses to expand or locate in San Jose, working with them to find the right location within our city, and helping them through the permitting and licensing process. This will require an individual who knows what it is like to run a business, who has a history working with new businesses, and can develop contacts not only throughout the region, but also across the state and country in order to attract businesses to San Jose.
We constantly hear of efforts by other states and cities that are actively trying to poach business and entrepreneurs away from Silicon Valley. Because of this the MBA must have the skills to anticipate and identify the needs of businesses even before many of the businesses themselves. This expertise will prove the MBA a highly valuable component of my administration and economic development initiative, and would have clear direction from me in representing the mayor’s office.
While we are working to attract new companies we will also be taking care of all of the other things they need to thrive here. That includes improving public safety, addressing transportation needs, and ensuring our businesses have access to the talent they need to grow. We also must ensure that we are being innovative as we implement our urban villages and grow our downtown core, so that we are developing projects and facilities that truly are attractive for the people who wish to call San Jose home.
All of this will be part of the MBA’s arsenal, and will integrate fully with the city’s existing economic development team. City staff has already developed a long-range plan, and it is clearly working. But even they acknowledge new efforts and ideas are always needed. That is a necessity in the dynamic landscape that is Silicon Valley. These efforts are slowly working and paying off, and with the additional leverage and focus of the mayor’s office behind them, we can really drive businesses and job growth.
Lastly, the importance of this new position and its efforts to attract, retain, and grow business is not just for the sake of growing our tax base and providing jobs for our residents. As mayor, I plan to actively engage our business leaders as community partners. To address the needs of our small, medium and large companies, the MBA can work with them directly to identify ways city government can be improved and also identify new opportunities. The MBA will be a resource for not only our businesses, but for everyone in our city with an interest in growing jobs, our economy, and making San Jose a better place to work, live and raise a family.
Vice Mayor, City of San Jose
Candidate, Mayor of San Jose