Two weeks ago, San Jose approved the largest project of its existence: Downtown West, Google’s 80-acre campus near Diridon Station.
Google estimates that up to 25,000 people will work in the downtown offices. How many of them will be local employees is still unclear.
According to Google spokesman Michael Appel, it’s too early to say exactly which teams will be working in Downtown West, but there will be a large number of employees there over the next decade. The project pledged to offer 5,700 predominant wage jobs in construction or public construction jobs that are paid hourly to the majority of workers, with a local recruitment target of 30%, according to a city presentation.
While the tech giant hasn’t finalized what types of jobs will eventually be offered in Downtown West, there are breakdowns of existing job types from Google. According to a 2017 report by the Securities and Exchange Commission, of the company’s 72,053 full-time employees, 37.5% worked in research and development, 28.8% in sales and marketing, 19.7% in operations, and 13.4% in general and administrative functions. In 2019, the company employed 118,819 full-time employees.
“There will always be people commuting to work,” said Nick Goddard, senior vice president in the Silicon Valley office of Colliers International, an investment and management company. “Not many people can walk to work. But (Downtown West) will be one of the few places where you have the density that allows it. “
Goddard added that the project’s thousands of residential units could accommodate more residents near work than other developments.
First proposed by the tech giant in 2019, the project includes 7.3 million square feet of office space, 4,000 residential units, 15 hectares of parks and a 30,000 to 50,000 square meter community center. It also has 500,000 square feet for retail, culture, education, and the arts. A quarter of the housing units in the area – around 1,000 – will be affordable.
Construction could start as early as next year.
A look at Google’s suggested land uses for its massive downtown San Jose development. Photo courtesy of Google.
While local organizations ultimately have no control over who Google hires, groups like the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO), the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, hope the company will consider hiring in the region.
“We are very committed to ensuring that the talent pipelines and career paths that exist for local hiring remain strong, and that people in our community have the opportunity to go down the pipeline to the quality, high-paying jobs of Downtown West will likely deliver, “SVO CEO Derrick Seaver told San Jose Spotlight.
Vice Mayor Chappie Jones said just minutes before the council voted to approve the Google project on May 25, it would urge Google to support more minority-owned companies and involve them in the planning process as the project grows.
“The amount of money that is produced and spent on small and large businesses, but especially small minority businesses, can really make a difference and truly create wealth in terms of the viability, sustainability and growth of our community,” said Jones at the time.
According to a survey by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, of which Google is a member, the San Joseans are overwhelmingly in favor of the project. 87% of respondents said they were most in favor of the project as it would bring 25,000 new jobs to the city.
Appel said Google is keen to bring various jobs to San Jose. Silicon Valley tech companies have been criticized in the past for their lack of diversity – so much so that the 2018 Congressional Black Caucus paid a visit to the region to find out why white men dominated the tech industry.
Diridon Station in downtown San Jose is at the center of massive redevelopment plans, which include Google’s proposed megacampus. Photo by Carly Wipf.
Figures from 2019 show that Google is not doing much better: Since 2014, the proportion of US technical employees who are Black or Latino has increased by less than a percentage point.
The company has attempted to expand diversity policies in its recruitment over the past decade and hopes to continue those efforts with its Downtown West hiring efforts. Appel said the company’s goal is to make everyone feel like they belong on Google and feel proud to work there.
Survey results courtesy of FM3 Research and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
In June 2020, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared the company’s commitments to promote racial justice and recently announced a goal to improve representation of underrepresented groups by 30% by 2025.
Seaver believes that local recruiting not only fosters talent, but also brings diversity to the workplace in one of the most diverse cities in the region.
“When you hire local people, you usually find a workforce base who is likely to be more committed to the community around them, to the kind of traditional existing downtown businesses and organizations that were here before Downtown West and those businesses are with them more likely to visit and come downtown, ”Seaver said.
Seaver said the SVO currently has no initiatives specifically related to local employment.
Still, community activists have concerns that the number of homes and jobs will not be enough to feed low-income or black workers. In response, Google and the city negotiated a $ 200 million community benefit plan that includes a $ 154.8 million fund to help unhodged residents. The money will be used for vocational training programs that address displacement and affordable housing.
“There are so many mom and pop shops in the area hanging by a thread,” Stephanie Avila, a local activist, told the San José Spotlight hours before the council’s vote two weeks ago. “Here we are erasing the culture of San Jose to implement something new instead of integrating Google into the city.”
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.