Businesses are important because they can generate revenue to provide services to our residents. They are particularly important for Richmond because residential property taxes provide only about 13% of our general fund revenues. Economic development provides jobs, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that these are good jobs, and our residents get these good jobs. Economic development is also connected to the development of new housing for residents at all income levels, something that we really need.
What are Vinay’s plans for promoting new businesses, and making sure that more Richmond residents get good jobs?
I plan to get the city to prepare an inventory of commercial parcels. We can determine which industry sector would be the most suitable for the parcels and related infrastructure, and accordingly, target and actively recruit those industries. This is critical if we want to attract high profile flagship businesses that could change the image of the city. It isn’t enough to just create a welcoming business climate.
I will work to expand the Contractor Resource Center started last year through a partnership between Richmond Build and Chevron, to include all small businesses rather than being limited to construction businesses. Richmond with our prime location and affordable rents, has already started attracting incubator parks. Additionally, a small business resource center is critical if we want to turn downtown and the south side into thriving mixed-use – mixed income neighborhoods.
Even though Richmond has seen a sharp drop in unemployment, I am keenly aware of the need to ensure that our residents get good jobs with benefits. I fostered co-operation between our Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP) and the Building Trades to help residents have careers in the Building Trades. I will also ensure that we do a better job of outreach to our residents (we hardly use churches, for example) about the great career opportunities available here. We not only have one of the best job training programs in Richmond Build; in Serra Adult college, we have one of two Northern California centers that prepare students for careers in the more lucrative Building Trades.
What are Vinay’s plans for the South side now that the Berkeley Global Campus won’t happen?
My vision for South Richmond, a high density, walkable mixed-use development with residential, research, and commercial uses, is already well-represented by the draft Richmond Bay Specific Plan. The visioning stage is largely over, and at this time, we need to focus on the strategies to make sure the vision happens. With this in view, I plan to:
- Make sure that we position ourselves to develop South Richmond in the next business cycle. We can’t allow the failure of the Berkeley Global Campus to affect this.
- Relentlessly focus on the DTSC, and make sure that they stick to their recently agreed timeline for the cleanup of the Zeneca site. This is critical for launching the revitalization plans for South Richmond.
- Cconvince U.C. Berkeley to treat their property in Richmond as an investment, rather than just letting it stay unproductive.
- Develop a framework, which encourages other major property owners to develop their properties, and not let them sit idle.
What are our city’s plans for Hilltop?
For many years, the Hilltop mall was in receivership. The banks weren’t interested in any major redevelopment. As a result, our hands were tied. But the mall came out of receivership and went on the market earlier this year. I will work with the new buyer to realize the city’s vision for the space as a high density mixed-use mixed-income development.