Silicon Valley’s rapidly growing and evolving economy has brought vitality and wealth to Santa Clara County but has also contributed to housing, transportation, and environmental challenges that will continue to shape the local economy for years to come. Most of the region’s economic growth has failed to benefit low-income families. The wages that the County’s low- and middle-income workers earn—even when working multiple jobs—is insufficient given the high cost of living in Santa Clara County. Many middle-income households also experience a “benefits cliff” in which they are unable to make ends meet but are ineligible for supportive resources and public benefits because their annual income is too high.

To promote a prosperous and just local economy, the County of Santa Clara will continue to partner with member cities, community-based organizations, educational institutions, small businesses, and large local employers to develop career pipelines for historically marginalized communities in Santa Clara County. It will also help connect County departments and community-based organizations focused on workforce development to private sector leaders committed to ensuring everyone can benefit from economic growth.

How will we get there?

One way to ensure that historically marginalized communities benefit from economic growth is to utilize a pipeline approach, creating clear pathways for youth to complete high school and then advance to higher education, technical training programs, or entrepreneurship. Adults who are unemployed, underemployed, or do work that is becoming obsolete also need similar pathways or pipelines and additional support post-employment to address challenges and grow professionally—both of which increase employee retention.

As the third largest employer in Santa Clara County and the administrator of numerous resources related to self-sufficiency, the County of Santa Clara is uniquely positioned to model innovative career development approaches in its own recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. By coordinating across departments, the County can maximize sustainability co-benefits: helping residents develop the skills and networks to become self-sufficient, increasing the numbers and diversity of job applicants and hires, and increasing the satisfaction and motivation for employees. The County can achieve additional environmental and social benefits when supporting job readiness for green jobs and other socially beneficial work, and by leveraging its relationships with County contractors/vendors and small and minority owned businesses to expand career pipelines and business enterprises.

Strategy 7.1 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Countywide Target:

  • Increase the number of small local businesses and minority-owned business enterprises (i.e., business enterprises with 51% or more of ownership held by a person/people who are: a person/people of color, a woman/women, disabled veteran(s), and/or an LGBTQ person/people).

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Bay Area Regional Energy Network and Rising Sun partnership

  • CalWORKS Employment Services (CWES)

  • Finance Agency Mentor/Mentee Program

  • First 5 Santa Clara County goal for Workforce Development

  • Office of Supportive Housing's Employment Programs

  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Career Technical Education

  • Employment training programs at Elmwood jail (e.g., permaculture, culinary)

  • County contracts with job training programs (e.g., Office of Reentry with San Jose City College, Goodwill Industries)

  • SCC Intern & Earn

  • New Americans Fellowship

  • Office of LGBTQ Affairs and ESA initiative focused on expansion of recruitment and retention efforts for transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and gender diverse individuals.

Strategy 7.1 - Workforce Development

Attract and retain a diverse, high-performing workforce

both within County government and the private sector.

A vibrant economy fosters innovative businesses and provides the goods, services, and jobs that area residents need. This includes businesses adopting sustainable practices and measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the availability of jobs in communities in which people live thereby reducing (or eliminating) long commutes.

In order to be both prosperous and truly sustainable, Santa Clara County’s economy must prioritize more than profits for individual businesses—it must also support the well-being of workers, community members, and the region’s natural ecosystems. That includes minimizing negative environmental impacts and paying workers enough to afford necessities for themselves and their families. To support a just economy, the County of Santa Clara will continue to collaborate with regional partners in both the public and private sectors to expand the number and types of living wage jobs, especially with green businesses—based in Santa Clara County.

Strategy 7.2 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Board Policy on living wage provisions in County contracts (Board Policy 5.5)

  • Santa Clara County Green Business Program  

  • Small Business Loans, California Capital Access Program

  • Partnership with Joint Venture Silicon Valley

  • Annual Small Business Summit

  • Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement’s work with all businesses

  • Healthy Nail Salon Program

Countywide Target:

  • Increase the number of jobs in predominantly middle-wage industries by 38% by 2040 (aligns with Plan Bay Area 2040).

Support a diversified and sustainable local economy

that provides living-wage job opportunities and security.

Strategy 7.2 - Local Economy and Diverse Job Opportunities

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Cultivate a prosperous and economically vibrant County that builds career pipelines to match County residents with job opportunities through education, training, and resources.

Goal #7. Prosperous County