The end of Redevelopment hasn’t eliminated San Jose’s programs to re-energize the economy of a city that suffers from 20% underemployment or unemployment. On Friday, the city’s Director of Economic Development released a memo to city leaders outlining some of the steps being taken to leverage Public-Private Partnerships to aid community goals.
“The city must engage in strategic partnerships to align and leverage its resources in order to sustain and, where possible, enhance services for local residents and businesses,” wrote Kim Walesh, the Director of Economic Development.
The goal is to combine resources to improve the San Jose Silicon Valley region with continued or new and innovative programming. Their pursuit of Public Private Partnerships involves nearly every aspect of regional life – from charitable work to job training to finance.
One such program, the Green Vision, was started in 2007. The Great Recession could have derailed the fifteen-year plan, however partnerships have kept it going.
In August, the city approved a one-year Demonstration Partnership with WattzOn. Together they launched the program called “Green Energy Match.” The arrangement works with three neighborhoods in San Jose to link economic development to energy savings, backed by rewards that are provided from a variety of small businesses. More than 20 businesses and 100 residences participated in the first quarter of the program.
More than simply encouraging energy improvements, San Jose’s Public-Private Partnerships are providing a boost to local businesses by harnessing the power of groups like Living Social, Yelp, and other social media organizations. Together, the Shop San Jose Campaign supports small-business growth of San Jose companies. When it launched in October of 2011, more than 2,500 small business owners attended.
However, the City has also pursued partnerships that can help provide job retraining and strengthen the area’s job pool. Veterans and Soldiers returning from combat in the Gulf War will be able to participate the City’s Veterans Program, which helps them retain and secure employment. Private employers who joined the program will offer internships and training funds.
According to the Walesh memo, multiple public agencies have engaged in this partnership. The County of Santa Clara and the State of California Employment Development Department are participating, and the Metropolitan Education District is also on board, providing veterans with scholarships.