Sunnyvale to create 600 jobs

April 10, 2009 12:44:17 PM PDT
The city of Sunnyvale is accelerating six years worth of capital improvement projects in a move city officials said will create jobs and save tax dollars.

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The program, known as SunnyvaleWorks!, will take advantage of recession pricing to complete a variety of improvement projects, city spokesman John Pilger said. The city identified 30 projects originally spaced out over six years to accelerate, he said, with work beginning as soon as six weeks from now.

Stepping up the timetable will create as many as 600 new jobs, according to Sunnyvale staff. Pilger noted that the city itself will not be hiring new employees, but will bid out contracts among construction companies in the area.

Roughly 30 already-approved projects will receive this expedited treatment, including a $33 million overhaul of the Mathilda Avenue Caltrain crossing and utility and streetscape improvements on Murphy Avenue. City Manager Gary Luebbers, who came up with the program, met with the public works department to find out which projects were in the final design stages, according to Pilger. Staff has not yet finalized which projects will be part of the program.

The city is examining the possibility of a bidding process that would give a slight advantage to Sunnyvale companies, Pilger said.

"Regardless of where the companies are based, the people working on the project are still going to buy gas and go to restaurants here," he said.

In addition to job creation, Sunnyvale administrators say launching these projects now will save millions in tax dollars. "These companies are so desperate for work that they're really low-bidding," Pilger said. Project bids are coming in 50 to 60 percent below estimates.

The $60 million initiative comes largely from capital improvement funds, which can be used only for infrastructure improvement.

"We can't use this to solve our other problems," Pilger said of the city's mounting budget deficit.

The city's 20-year budgeting forecast approach makes this approach possible, according to a city press release. Grants and federal stimulus money will also fund the project, although Sunnyvale does not yet know how much it will receive, or how the money will be earmarked.

A Web site offering more information on the project will go live early next week at www.SunnyvaleWorks.inSunnyvale.com.

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