Omar Torres will assist with economic recovery in Downtown, Monterey Highway Corridor and Alum Rock commercial districts
SAN JOSE – Working in tandem with the City of San Jose’s Office of Economic Development, San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) has hired a Business Resiliency Manager to assist with economic recovery in three commercial districts heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This position will address the unmet needs of San Jose’s diverse business and property owners as they rebound from unprecedented economic shock,” said Scott Knies, SJDA Executive Director.
The Business Resiliency Manager will provide intensive outreach that focuses on business retention to help fill storefront vacancies downtown, along the Monterey Highway corridor south of downtown and in the Alum Rock business district east of downtown.
Omar Torres starts today in the newly created position. Torres has extensive experience with local public service and community organizations, including most recently serving as San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
Torres will work closely with SJDA Business Development Manager Nate LeBlanc, City Small Business Allies Juan Borelli and Xuan Ha, and Blage Zelalich, the City’s Downtown Manager. The position is funded by a two-year grant from the Federal Economic Development Administration secured through the City Office of Economic Development, and is part of the San Jose Small Business and Manufacturing Recovery Initiative, which aims to help businesses and workers most impacted by the COVID-19 recession to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing economic environment.
“As a lifelong downtown San Jose resident, I am excited to start and utilize my skills and knowledge to help improve our local economy for the thousands of businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Torres said.
SJDA identified the need for additional business support in its Stabilization Plan released in August 2020. LeBlanc’s job requirements multiplied as COVID-19 devastated many downtown businesses. On any given day, LeBlanc would be asked by businesses for assistance on matters pertaining to Al Fresco outdoor dining; assisting with access to capital; making connections to grants and loans; and generally tracking openings, closings and dormant businesses. Additionally, the City’s Recovery Initiative calls for the team to assist businesses with re-invention, real estate needs, planning details, financial stability strategies, e-commerce development, employee ownership models and business district formation.
With the Delta Variant and more COVID-19 cases, recovery has been slow and awkward, leaving many businesses downtown worried about financial security.
“We all need to be out there voting with our dollars and supporting local business,” LeBlanc said. “Omar is a welcome addition to not only assist with business support and retention efforts, but also to help the Monterey Corridor and Alum Rock businesses create their own long-term district plans.”
Torres also served as executive director of Santa Maria Urban Ministry, community coordinator for the City of San Jose’s Strong Neighborhoods Initiative and on the boards of the Franklin-McKinley School District and San Jose-Evergreen Community College. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Jose State University.
Contact: Rick Jensen
San Jose Downtown Association