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Is San Leandro's Economy Poised To Soar?

City Manager Chris Zapata talks about a "transformation" at a Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday morning.

 

City managers should be upbeat. They're cheerleaders without the pom-poms.

Speaking to a packed room at the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, City Manager Chris Zapata upheld this tradition of enthusiasm.

"San Leandro is in the midst of a major transformation," he said.

Zapata's talk was keyed to the opening of the Kaiser Hospital scheduled for 2014. The new edifice is expected to bring about 2,300 medical workers to San Leandro and their spending will pump millions into the local economy.

Zapata said the city must plan now to make sure that the coming of Kaiser benefits the existing business community.

"We want to make sure they know where the florist shops are," he said. "Hospitals use a lot of flowers."

But Zapata was selling more than the hospital Tuesday morning.

Equally important, he said, is the potential of the Lit San Leandro project and its fiber optic loop. Monday, the city will get its first taste of high-speed Internet connectivity when its libraries are hooked into the new info superhighway.

Ultimately the fiber will loop through the city's manufacturing district. Zapata said this will put San Leandro in a select group of cities like Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, Chattanooga and Kansas City that are wired for futuristic fields like medical research, advanced manufacturing and robotics.

Rounding out Zapata's economic triangle is the Shoreline Marina Project -- a proposed office and residential development that is further back in the planning process but could galvanize the city's western flank.

Business people tend toward caution. It's tough to meet today's payroll with retail dollars not yet been spent. Nor can job seekers find employment at whiz-bang firms that are, as yet, only a gleam in city planners' eyes.

Questions were raised about crime and graffiti. Streets get more potholed by the day. The city's public school system is challenged, to say the least. (The school board is currently seeking a $39 per-parcel tax that requires a two-third vote in November. Monday night the City Council approved a resolution in support of that tax, Measure L.)

So there are opportunities and problems. What do you think? Is San Leandro poised for an economic transformation? And will current businesses and residents benefit? How? 

Craig Williams September 19, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I wonder if the schools can coordinate some programs with Kaiser for training students in medical related fields . I never hear anyone talk about the unemployment rate . This is the country's biggest problem and I'm sure the city is not immune to the problem.Also Oakland has created a Oakland jobs for Oakland people quota for their development projects. Many other cities have done this in the past .It probably would be a good idea for San Leandro if leaders were concerned about unemployment at all.
Tom Abate (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Good idea. Is it already in the works? Eden Area ROP is the vehicle to do that at the high schools including San Leandro & San Lorenzo (maybe Castro Valley?).
Diana Souza September 19, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Arroyo High School does have an Academy of Health & Medicine
Leah Hall September 19, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Kaiser has a fabulous mission statement and its leadership team walks the walk - promoting health, wellness and social responsibility. Flowers are nice but I'm sure that most of us would agree that Kaiser's vision and impact goes way way beyond the bottom line of local florists. Kaiser's mission statement... To provide affordable high-quality healthcare services and improve the health of our members and the communities we share.
Robo Eng September 19, 2012 at 08:05 PM
SL has many attributes, but the woeful school scores will serve as a barrier to attracting new residents who will help the city prosper. The school board among other school district officials must reevaluate what they're doing and how they're doing it. Same ole way of doing business is an injustice to our children, their families and our city.
Craig Williams September 19, 2012 at 09:26 PM
There's a direct correlation between the incomes of residents and test scores. Show me a city that bucks the trend . There's no rocket science here. Maybe stop under paying people and their children will do better in schools . Companies just blow off union efforts . Check out the article "Got Dough" and you'll see that community income and school performance are interrelated
Ken Briggs September 19, 2012 at 11:47 PM
need more jobs, and better teachers for high schools and teacher that can teach the student that want part time work for hospitals . but the roads for the hospital needs to be fixed now and what about bus service for that areathat goes to the old hospital .
Rob Rich September 20, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Schools can buck the trend, though it takes creativity, dynamic faculty, & investment. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/aug/17/some-low-income-schools-score-higher-on/

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