Saturday, July 3, 2010

Here's how San Mateo tries to attract business

Chamber broadens scope to draw and keep startups

July 03, 2010, 01:38 AM By Bill Silverfarb, Daily Journal Staff

San Mateo’s business community had an “aha moment” a few years ago when little-known startup YouTube moved its offices above a downtown pizzeria to new digs in San Bruno.

YouTube flew under the city’s and chamber’s radar before Google gobbled it up in late 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock.

The San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce is determined to not let another startup like YouTube slip through the city’s fingers.

Another company located in downtown, AdMob, was also recently purchased by Google for $750 million and has moved the bulk of its operations to Mountain View.

In the poor economy and with San Mateo closing down its Business Resource Center at the end of this month, the city has partnered with the chamber to launch a new initiative aimed at attracting and keeping business in the city.

The Economic Development Growth Enterprise initiative was started by the chamber earlier this year and just received $75,000 in seed money from the city to help foster better relationships between the business, government, social and academic communities.

Outreach to larger businesses that would not typically become chamber members is a key component of the initiative in an effort to show they are appreciated, said Steve Parker, Edges’ director.

“A lot of large tech companies don’t see the traditional chamber as being relevant to their business,” Parker said.

With cities cutting back on economic development, the chamber is looking to pick up the slack.
“The poor economy helps people focus,” said Linda Asbury, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer.

Companies such as and Digital Chocolate, located at the crossroads of Highway 101 and State Route 92, have taken interest in The Edge and Parker and Asbury hope to expand that interest to other large companies.

“We don’t want to become the stepchild of Silicon Valley or San Francisco. We want to show the opportunities that exist here,” Asbury said.

Mountain View-based Collaborative Economics has announced it will relocate to San Mateo, something the chamber hopes other companies will consider.

The Edge is also working closely with commercial real estate brokers to identify vacant office space and plan for future developments, such as Station Park Green and the Hines project, to attract corporate tenants.

The chamber requested $750,000 from San Mateo to fund the initiative for the next three years but the city could not support that request considering its $4 million deficit and state takeaways from the Redevelopment Agency.


Posted by Steve Sinai

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