A number of us attended the Cities Association of Santa Clara County’s annual dinner tonight, and this year’s dinner included a panel discussion to talk about regional economic development issues. Basically, there are 15 individual cities in the county that are all off trying to attract businesses, and we often compete against each other, which is somewhat counter-productive. So the goal was to talk about ways to improve that.
One of the questions raised was about the way cities do permitting and expedite business licenses and other barriers that businesses face when entering the city. And the consensus was that having a streamlined process is vital to attracting businesses – cities need to move at the speed of business, as one panelist said. But it’s impractical to have a regional permitting system, with the different ordinances and peculiarities that cities have.
Then Matt Mahood, President of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, made a comment that had most of us Sunnyvale folks restraining ourselves from high-fiving each other. He said that the best that cities could do to improve their situations is “if the City of Sunnyvale is particularly good at expediting business permitting and approval, then the City of San Jose should sit down with them and find out how they do things“.
It was extremely gratifying to have the President of SJ’s Chamber of Commerce say this, to a room full of elected officials, business representatives, and city managers from every city in the county, and with our own City Manager and Economic Development Manager present and listening. We’ve known for years that we have some of the best and most business-friendly permitting and approval processes around, and to have it recognized in such a visible setting was terrific.