Mayor Edwin M. Lee has announced new commitments to neighborhood commercial districts and small businesses in his proposed two year budget. The budget will more than double grants funding to $1.5 million; add $4 million to dramatically expand loans and other grants specifically targeted at neighborhood small businesses; double the team that works full time in neighborhood commercial corridors to streamline permitting and link small businesses with City programs and resources; and launch the Jobs Squad to help neighborhood small businesses get expert City staff out of City Hall and into the neighborhoods.
Mayor Lee was joined by Board Budget Chair Supervisor Carmen Chu, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, area business owners, neighborhood residents and leaders, community-based groups and City department heads to make the announcement in Little Saigon in the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District neighborhood.
“We are strengthening small businesses and entire neighborhood commercial districts,” said Mayor Lee. “This requires real resources and an ‘all hands on deck’ approach from City departments, business owners, and neighborhood leaders. By bringing a substantial commitment of new support, we are replacing vacant store fronts with vibrant small businesses. We will continue to invest in our existing small businesses, the jobs they create and aid entrepreneurs looking to open up shop in our City.”
The Invest in Neighborhoods Strategy will provide focused, customized assistance that meets the specific needs of San Francisco’s neighborhood commercial corridors by leveraging existing programs from across multiple departments and nonprofit partners. Neighborhoods selected for Invest in Neighborhoods will receive an initial corridor assessment, a point person at City Hall, access to small project grants, and access to a range of other services aimed at strengthening neighborhood commercial corridors. Based on the findings of the initial assessment, customized interventions, such as streetscape improvements, storefront improvements, business attraction, community benefit districts, will be deployed. In neighborhoods requiring additional support, the City will work with community-based organizations to offer extra support.
In the first phase of the Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative, Mayor Lee is proposing to provide more than $1.5 million dollars to neighborhood commercial districts over the next two years. The Mayor’s proposed budget for neighborhood commercial districts represents more than double the annual average funding for neighborhood commercial districts in recent years.
Mayor Lee is also allocating $4 million over the next two years to dramatically expand loan funds and other grants and support specifically targeted for neighborhood small businesses. This is in addition to the $1 million for the Small Business Revolving Loan fund that was recently replenished with the unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors. Included in the $4 million are neighborhood improvement programs including a new centralized vacancy tracking system, a new targeted business recruitment program for high-vacancy commercial districts and a mini-grant program targeted at merchant and neighborhood groups.
Invest in Neighborhoods will leverage another new initiative, Jobs Squad, for which the Mayor also announced today. The Job Squad will first consist of two new staff people in the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to get out to into commercial corridors to offer direct assistance, cut red tape and navigate City government and services. The Job Squad will work with the City’s Office of Civic Engagement, Office of Small Business, OEWD and other City Departments to help small businesses access City programs and services that can help them navigate City requirements and rules. The commitment follows through on a campaign pledge Mayor Lee made to send City representatives out to businesses across the City, bringing the services of the City Hall Small Business Assistance Center directly to small business owners.
In February, Mayor Lee established the Invest in Neighborhoods Working Group, a collaboration among City agencies and nonprofit partners. Twenty-five neighborhood commercial districts will be selected in conjunction with the Board of Supervisors over the next month. The Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative and Jobs Squad are part of Mayor Lee’s 17-point Roadmap to Good Jobs and Opportunity plan to create jobs and promote smart economic growth and development for San Francisco.