Making It in the Bay

City of San Jose Launches ‘Shop Local SJ' to Promote Small Businesses

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

One very literal sign of the times these days is the “for lease” sign.

As more small businesses fold because of the pandemic, buildings, even entire shopping centers, are increasingly desperate to find new tenants. And on Thursday, the city of San Jose stepped in with a plan.

Within one square block along First and Trimble in San Jose, lay dozens of “for lease” signs, boarded up buildings, and lost jobs.

“The situation is extremely bad," said restaurant owner Shalini Khanna.

Restaurants, long dependent on nearby tech workers, are struggling as offices sit empty.

The nearby Specialty's Cafe is now closed and Una Mas is barely hanging on. 

"Our occupancy costs plus our PG&E bill is around $12,000,” said Khanna. “I've lost 80% of my sales, and my sales are less than that.”

Now the city of San Jose is reaching out to help, launching Shop Local SJ, promoting small businesses because if they can stay open, people stay employed, rent gets paid, and some of the signs can come down.

“We wanna get folks looking next door rather than going to Amazon," said Mayor Sam Liccardo. This is important for us to insure we can support small businesses because so much of their ecosystem depends on their survival, and their ability to thrive.”

But it’s not all bad news, in less than a mile from the “for lease” signs, a Biotech Incubator just leased 35,000 square feet of space for new offices, and new employees.

Construction is set to start early next year.

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