Details of VTA's plan to support San Jose's and Santa Clara's small business communities during the construction of Silicon Valley's BART extension project were presented at the VTA Board of Directors regular meeting on June 16, 2023.
The program, under VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project (BSVII,) is referred to as the Business Resource Program (BRP.) The intent is a proactive effort to support the local small business community and provide targeted resources to help alleviate potential disruptions during construction of the six-mile, four-station project. BRP will begin before major construction is set to begin in 2024.
The BRP was developed by proactively engaging and seeking feedback from the local small business community. A Small Business Resource Study was completed to identify potential effects from BSVII construction. VTA’s BSVII Small Business Task Force, comprised of local community business members along the project alignment and multiple departments from the City of San José, City of Santa Clara, and County of Santa Clara, provided input and feedback on the program.
The Small Business Task Force was established in 2019 to serve as a conduit between local business community members and project stakeholders and helped administer the Small Business Survey in 2020. Small businesses were also recently surveyed during additional preconstruction efforts to better understand business operations and needs. Additional best practices and lessons learned from the Alum Rock Bus Rapid Transit Project and other transit projects around the country were incorporated into formulating the BRP.
The BRP is comprised of four elements:
"Shop Local Marketing" is a VTA BSVII-sponsored and branded marketing campaign that will provide marketing assistance in the form of flyers, posters, banners, social media promotional posts, small business interviews, small business spotlights, a Local Vendor List, and a QR code that will direct patrons to the BRP section of VTA’s website.
VTA’s BSVII team will also host promotional pop-up events leading up to the launch of the campaign and during construction to encourage the community to shop locally. The BRP’s website is currently in development and will be the repository for related information, such as opt-in forms and the Small Business Map. Additionally, the future BSVII construction webpage will host a live construction map that depicts the locations of small businesses.
Signage and Wayfinding will be provided to communicate roadway and sidewalk access, detour routes, and project information throughout the construction area. Signage is planned for streetlight banner hangers, construction and screening fences, and bus shelters to direct patrons and increase visibility to small businesses that are open during construction. Storefront signage and window clings will be available to businesses who opt into the program.
Small Business Resource Connections and Support is designed to help small business owners increase their resiliency by highlighting existing community resources. The BRP will leverage the community’s business assistance entities, who provide ongoing training, educational, webinars, and be supplemented by VTA-sponsored networking events. A list of small business resource providers and services will be compiled, maintained, and distributed to business owners and operators.
Direct Financial Assistance includes grant funds available for eligible small businesses to apply for and is anticipated to be provided on a three-tiered basis with up to a maximum annual grant amount of $10,000 per business. VTA is working to finalize the eligibility criteria that makes this element easily accessible for small businesses.
To be eligible for any of the four Program elements, small business applicants must meet program requirements, including the customary small business definition as a for-profit business with 35 or fewer full-time employees, having an active business license in the City of Santa Clara or City of San José, and not exceeding defined revenue thresholds.
A multilingual Business Liaison Team will serve as a conduit between VTA and business owners, and regularly visit businesses within the BRP to answer concerns and questions. Additionally, the Team will be available for in-person visits at the future BSV Public Information Offices during established office hours or by appointment to answer any questions or inquiries. Three elements of the BRP will be implemented during early preparatory and construction activities and the grant program will begin when major construction starts at the station areas.