San Jose Gaining International Attention, Says Mayor
San Jose and Silicon Valley are bursting onto the international scene and foreign investment dollars are pouring into the region, according to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Proposed infrastructure improvements and a boost in manufacturing will “keep the good times going,” he said.
The mayor spoke to a crowd of 240 at Bisnow’s Silicon Valley State of the Market event yesterday.
Investors from Asia, Taiwan and India, among others, are turning to San Jose as an ideal city. Downtown San Jose boasts six high-rises financed by Chinese investors. Sam said San Jose is benefiting from the declining economy in China, which has a three-to-one debt to GDP ratio.
“Smart money is looking elsewhere to get dollars out of China,” Sam said, “and the good news is that Silicon Valley is seen as a destination for those dollars. We are working aggressively to make sure those dollars come to San Jose.”
Investors are already doubling down on San Jose with Trammell Crow’s recent $600M project proposed across from the SAP Center being the largest private sector investment in downtown’s history, he said.
Sam expects additional focus on downtown, especially if transportation initiatives, such as Measure B, pass in November. Measure B, which would increase the sales tax by a half-cent and raise $6.3B over 30 years, would fund further BART expansion, with its latest expansion into Berryessa set to open next year, into Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara. Nearly $1B from the measure for Caltrain would double its capacity, which is now supporting 65,000 riders each day.
“We obviously need to make critical investments in our infrastructure from our streets and roads to expressways and freeways,” Sam said. Along with a BART extension, electrified Caltrain, a rapid-transit line under construction and existing Amtrak Capital Corridor lines, the mayor anticipates 600 trains a day running through Diridon Station within the next nine years.
Manufacturing is also “cool again” in San Jose, he said. “We are certainly benefiting enormously from our role as a city with the highest concentration of tech manufacturing. One out of seven jobs [in San Jose] are manufacturing related.”
Sam said the city will do everything it can to promote development and attract investors and manufacturing. It offers incentives for companies looking to retrofit older industrial buildings for manufacturing. Incentives include waiving fees, accelerated timelines and permits within 60 days. The city is also helping reduce energy costs and promoting workforce training.
San Jose has launched online permitting systems allowing for about 90 permits to be obtained without going to City Hall. The city also plans to create additional incentives in North San Jose, which is amenity-deprived and needs more retail and entertainment venues.
“We’re seeing gains on the large projects," Sam said. "Now the focus is how we can improve the speed of service for the small to mid-rise projects where we know we’ve struggled in the past. With new technology and new blood in City Hall, I think you’re going to see a lot of great things happening."