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NewsBusinessDeputy City Manager to Economic Development Commission: RAISE THE BAR

Deputy City Manager to Economic Development Commission: RAISE THE BAR


Over the last few weeks, the Economic Development Commission has been preparing to help craft the Milpitas General Plan. With Deputy City Manager Steve McHarris guiding the Commission, the members are tasked with thinking through the city’s long-term economic strategy.

The Economic Development Commission’s purpose is to “advise the City Council on business issues” and to “design, develop, and implement a comprehensive economic development program for the City of Milpitas.”

Commission Members are Milpitas business owners from a variety of industries: Lynne Rice is the current Chair of the Commission and is employed by the Great Mall; Jeffrey Chen, the Vice Chair, is an employee of Embassy Suites; and so on, across the 9 other appointed commission seats.

McHarris warned the Commission that if the city’s economic policies are not well-thought-out, Milpitas could be taken advantage of by exploitative developers. Meanwhile, McHarris and his staff provided examples of how Fremont, San Jose, and Salinas defined their economic development goals, some with success, and others with irrevocable consequences, such as San Jose’s re-zoning issue. In an effort to ease residential stress, the City of San Jose quickly changed industrial areas to residential. This temporarily eased the housing issue, but created a loss of business revenue while causing odd juxtapositions of residential homes against industrial buildings. McHarris warned that this, too, could happen in Milpitas if we’re hampered by a weak economic development plan: “Have a plan that’s clear, doable; raise the bar.”

Commission Member Chris Norwood addressed his desire to see clear language permeate the entire General Plan, and not just the Economic Development Plan, stating that it should be “flexible, innovative” and have elements that address public health and safety as well as any environmental impact “so we’re never going to get away from the core of what makes a thriving society.”

The Economic Development Commission meets on the 2nd Monday of every month (except for in July and December) at 4 p.m. at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend, and may provide comments during the meeting’s public forum portion.

The Milpitas General Plan is slated to be completed by early 2019.


Francie Soito
Francie Soito
Francie Soito is a third-generation Bay Area native who has lived and worked in Milpitas since 2002. She has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley, where she studied Sociology, Anthropology, and Physics. Having worked for nearly two decades in market research and data strategy for high-tech companies like Macromedia, Yahoo!, and Facebook, Francie also holds a patent for her work in data segmentation. She is a co-owner of Black Cat Comics and sole owner of Reiki Energy Healing, both located on Main Street in Milpitas. In addition to being an author, musician, public speaker, and martial artist, Francie is the mother of three furry babies.


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