Economic Development Update 2023: Positive Momentum
Economic Development Staff presented its annual update to the City Council on Tuesday, February 21, 2023. The presentation provided an overview of economic development programs, local economic indicators, and economic recovery since the onset of the pandemic. San Leandro’s economy has recovered well, with businesses continuing to grow and hire, local sales booming, and many developments proposed across the city.
Businesses play a large role in the San Leandro economy and the city’s overall budget – between all sources, businesses generate around 60% of General Fund Revenues. Over 3,000 brick-and-mortar and over 1,000 home-based businesses operate in San Leandro. While the majority of local businesses are small, there are also dozens of businesses that employ over 200 people, with local hospitals, retailers, manufacturers and construction companies topping the list.
Today, local businesses employ almost 42,000 people, with the unemployment rate at 3.1%, matching levels seen prior to the pandemic. As is typical for San Leandro, 37% of these jobs land within the construction, wholesale/warehouse, and manufacturing sectors; and 17% are in the health care and social assistance fields.
Retail and other taxable sales have recovered from the pandemic reduction. Total sales across all sectors climbed to $3.26 billion last year, higher than pre-pandemic numbers. Sales tax capture rates are high in almost all categories, with businesses ‘capturing’ more than local demand and drawing customers from shoppers outside of San Leandro. San Leandro boasts one of the highest per-capita taxable sales levels in the Bay Area due to our central location, proximity to highways, business-friendly approach and large number of vehicle, equipment and business to business sales, particularly related to the construction industry.
Economic Development Programs
The City’s Economic Development team continues to work diligently to support local businesses in the wake of the challenges of the pandemic. With the support of ARPA funding, the City has disbursed over $372,000 in commercial rent relief grants to support continued business operations after the end of the eviction moratorium. A Facility Improvement Program is also underway to help businesses with physical improvements, bringing temporary outdoor dining to code, and a variety of other potential facility upgrades.
The City’s technical assistance program is ongoing, with monthly business webinars designed to provide local businesses with useful information and guidance to help optimize their operations and evolve with the changes in the business ecosystem. A Shop Local program is also ongoing, with the Keeping it Local San Leandro virtual gift card program having generated over $20,000 in gift card sales, and nearly $13,000 in gift card redemptions at local participating venues.
This year, staff worked on marketing the City via another San Leandro Business Times insert in July 2022, which generated over 840,000 online impressions and over 1,000 hours of brand awareness, and a spread in East Bay Hot Spots: San Leandro & Hayward in February 2023. The City also hosted a successful Development Breakfast in November 2022, inviting brokers, developers, investors, and other stakeholders to a morning of impactful conversations and presentations.
Since the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency in 2012, the City has issued over $1.875 million in incentives to local businesses, ranging from a fresh coat of paint and new awnings to comprehensive facade improvements. Recent participants in this program include: Koolfi Creamery, Fieldwork Brewing, and Top Hatters Kitchen & Bar.
A long-standing partnership with the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce continues this year, which also happens to be the Chamber’s 100th anniversary. With support from the City, the Chamber promotes Small Business Week through a number of activities targeted at local businesses, San Leandro By Design, which highlights significant and relevant projects within the city, and National Manufacturing Week, with local businesses opening their doors for public tours and a local manufacturers appreciation event. The Chamber also supports local workforce development via two annual job fairs. This year, the Chamber plans to organize the first ever San Leandro Restaurant Week, inviting the lively local restaurant community to participate.
Moving forward, the team will continue to focus on the fundamentals of economic development: business recruitment, retention and expansion. In the coming year, we will kick off an Economic Development Strategic Plan to help provide appropriate goals and corresponding workplans to optimize economic opportunity and growth in San Leandro in coming years. The team will also lend support to assist businesses navigate entitlement and permitting processes, provide input on process modernization, and to facilitate strategic development projects.
The City and its staff work hard to support and foster this local economic growth. The Economic Development team serves as a liaison to local businesses, to connect them with resources at the City and beyond. The team works with a number of organizations to maximize its impact and strengthen the local business ecosystem, creating a valuable network of services, support, and products for businesses to utilize. The San Leandro story is told through a number of different channels and the Economic Development team encourages innovative and beneficial new businesses to locate here.
With a continued business-friendly climate, easy access to transportation, ultra high speed internet, and a diverse housing and employment base, San Leandro remains an ideal place to grow a business. For more detailed information, click HERE to view the entire presentation and subscribe to San Leandro Next to stay up to date on developments and new projects. And if you’re a business looking to move or expand in San Leandro, let us know!