A Warm Welcome to Tina Kapoor – Fremont’s new Economic Development Manager!
Meet Tina Kapoor, Fremont’s new Economic Development Manager! Tina has a strong track record in economic development having previously worked for the City of San Jose, and as a longtime Fremont resident, she knows the community well. The following Q&A offers a more in-depth introduction, but we encourage you to reach out and get to know Tina personally!
Q: As a part of San Jose’s economic development team you’ve been a key driver for downtown activation, new business, and placemaking. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
During my time with the City of San Jose, I had many opportunities to create innovative programs in partnership with private partners to nurture businesses and creative entrepreneurs in downtown. A few of my favorite projects are:
- San Jose Pop-Up Project – an urban design project that filled vacant and under-utilized spaces with creative entrepreneurs, which exceeded economic goals related to increased visitor spending, and positively activated downtown during the holidays.
- San Jose Ignite – a unique public-private partnership to foster retail and start-ups through peer-to-peer mentoring, which was also replicated in a few other cities because of the positive results.
- Downtown Tech Happy Hours – an effort to celebrate tech and start-up culture in Downtown San Jose, and to create a venue for tech employees to mingle and explore cool venues to hang out in after work.
- San Jose’s first-ever “Bollywood Week” – a creative partnership that celebrated the cultural richness of our region and capitalized on a large-scale Bollywood event coming to town. Cesar Chavez Park was activated with cultural programming and there was also a Bollywood-themed downtown bike party.
Q: Your experience also includes workforce development and insight into industrial development trends. What do you see as the key challenges for companies who are involved in advanced manufacturing?
Driving industries, specifically the advanced manufacturing sector, brings substantial job opportunities to a community. However, due to extensive offshoring in the past, this sector is facing real challenges related to the loss of critical components of the manufacturing ecosystem, such as knowledge, skills, and vendors.
Many advanced manufacturing companies have mentioned “finding skilled and interested talent” as their biggest challenge. Any support that the local government can provide in partnership with local colleges and workforce boards such as internships, on-the-job training, customized training, or specialized recruitment, can make the city more attractive to an employer. At the same time, cities can encourage highly educated professionals to remain in the community by providing high-quality infrastructure, affordable housing, potential business sites, and neighborhoods with mixed land use.
Q: While in San Jose, you collaborated with the City of Fremont and other cities in Silicon Valley through a variety of regional partnerships. Where do you see the most opportunity for regional collaboration and joint economic development efforts?
Coordinated efforts around business retention, expansion, and attraction across the region can help to ensure that Silicon Valley continues to be the most dynamic region in the country. For example, last year’s Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative brought together the four largest Bay Area cities – Fremont, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. It was exhilarating to hear the mayors and vice mayors speak in unison about the region’s collective potential to foster local manufacturing and create more jobs.
In the absence of traditional business incentives, another opportunity for cities is to band together to increase the awareness of businesses tax incentives that may be available at the state or federal level, such as California Competes, State of California’s R&D tax credit, Industrial Development Bonds, and Community Development Block Grant funding.
Fortunately, a great synergy and dialogue already exists between economic development professionals from various Bay Area cities. Together we can tackle the challenges our region faces and strive to make Silicon Valley stronger.
Q: With a background in graphic design, you have keen insight into visual storytelling. How does this influence your approach to economic development?
Children’s author Rick Riordian reminds us to “always, always have a plan”. Mine was to be a journalist because I loved listening to and telling stories. I majored in English with that career goal in mind. But the plan we start out with is rarely the plan that actually works. After graduating with honors, I found myself working in Downtown Oakland on carpooling and alternate transportation programs. Still fascinated by communicating facts and ideas, with a strong affinity for art and design, I enrolled in night classes at Ohlone College to pursue a graphic design degree. Although I never explored a career in journalism, storytelling and visual communication have been key skills that I have applied in my now 15-plus years in economic development.
I regularly use data as a storytelling tool because numbers have an important story to tell. Visuals are extremely powerful and effective when used correctly to communicate an appropriate message. For example, in San Jose I utilized my graphic design skills to craft high-profile presentations – each one delivering key messages across a broad and diverse audience including citywide community budget meetings, business attraction efforts, and workforce support and retention strategy. I also led the development of our department’s social media strategy to promote a sustained and proactive branding campaign.
In economic development, every interaction with businesses, brokers, and developers is an opportunity to showcase the city as a business-friendly community. Statistics show that visual content, when delivered effectively, is the most persuasive communication method. People retain information that they see and experience exponentially more than information that they read or hear. So, regardless of the topic or strategy, core message “retention” is the ultimate goal – and that is an important word in my profession!
Q: What excites you the most about working for the Cityof Fremont (besides the short commute)?
As a longtime resident and parent to two children, I have seen Fremont go through an amazing transformation. I believe that with creative approaches to employment generation, public-private partnerships, and elevated branding, Fremont will continue to reach new heights.
As Malala Yousafzai once said, “If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.” The skills and expertise gained through my experience in economic development have prepared me to serve the City of Fremont as it continues to create new practices that have brought our local economy to national prominence. I am excited to join this high-functioning team and to develop the infrastructure, brand, business support programs, and trust and confidence of key business leaders and external stakeholders, and enjoy the results of my efforts for years to come. It’s so good to be home!