San Jose businesses awaiting students return to help boost local economy

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — For the last year and a half San Jose’s downtown has gone through some changes brought on by the pandemic. 

Many businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors, some for good, but downtown and the city as a whole may soon get a resurgence thanks to a local driving force. 

“For every dollar for state funding generates $24 in economic output from SJSU,” said Kenneth Mashinchi, Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations at SJSU. 

A recent study released by San José State University and Beacon Economics, shows the university, prior to COVID-19, contributing $4.1 billion statewide. 

“But also the social impact was the other part of the report that we really wanted to capture, over 83% of our students are people of color, 42% first-generation,” Mashinchi added. “Not only that, they end up going on to work at great companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook in Silicon Valley.”

In the Bay Area and Silicon Valley alone, SJSU generates $2.4 billion and $1.8 billion economic output, respectively. 

With SJSU set to return to campus this fall, students may be a huge driving force in the city’s economic recovery. 

“It is a different vibe when you’re here [in San Jose] there’s a vibrancy with students, many of them are traditional-aged college students 18-22,” said Mashinchi. “But we also have those non-traditional students as well with families who are also contributing to downtown, the restaurants, the rental properties, or purchasing homes.”

A Santa Clara County report from February revealed 2,600 restaurants temporarily closed their doors, while an additional 1,000 closed permanently, but with students set to return soon, downtown businesses are looking to capitalize. 

“We can’t wait, we’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for so long everybody knows that,” said Jennifer Echeverri, owner of Habana Cuba located in the SoFA Market in downtown San Jose. “The atmosphere when students are around is very positive and energetic. We’re going to try and do everything that we can to encourage them to come by and eat at Habana Cuba, eat at the SoFA Market.”

Restaurants, like Habana Cuba, rely on the student clientele and offer special deals throughout the week catered to bring in students. 

“We have Thursday $3 specials all day and that kind of lures students in,” Echeverri said. “We want them to come in and feel comfortable and study.”

It’s still unclear how big of a boom students’ return will bring in the fall as SJSU is requiring students to be fully vaccinated before stepping on campus.

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