New program tracks business growth, development in Palo Alto

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Palo Alto is known as a hub for technology and innovation, but for years, the exact number of people who work there, along with how they get there, has been somewhat of a mystery.

Jessica Roth says doing business in Palo Alto is a very personal thing.

"I grew up here, like behind the counter," she said.

Roth's family's store, the Cobblery, has been on California Avenue since 1940.

"We also need to protect Palo Alto, before it gets too crazy," she said.

Roth is among those who support the city's new business registry program.

Palo Alto is known as a hub for technology and innovation, but for years, the exact number of people who work there, along with how they get there, has been somewhat of a mystery.

The city now hopes to solve that mystery.

Any company that operates in a fixed place of business in Palo Alto, such as an office or retail space, is now required to register online, pay a $50 administrative fee and then provide information such as the number of its workers and their commute patterns.

"The business registry is going to give all of us a better window on the economy in Palo Alto, to give us real data about the business community, what kinds of businesses, how large they area, what they do here," explained Judy Kleinberg with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

Officials say the data will also help the city measure employment and economic activity in a more comprehensive way. As more people travel through the city, it is also an opportunity to develop effective programs to reduce traffic congestion.

"We walked 3 blocks just to get to the restaurant, because we needed to find a spot where we could because we knew it was going to be a headache just finding it," said Melissa Hoff, who works in Palo Alto.

"Maybe if they have the data, they can formulate some solutions that make sense. So yeah, I think it's a good step in the right direction," said Genevieve Ruskus, who also lives in Palo Alto.

Businesses have until the end of April to comply with the new ordinance, or face penalties.

Though not every business owner is keen on having to pay yet another fee, many are taking it in stride.

"There's been a lot of changes in Palo Alto. The more knowledge the city has, the better they're able to predict and improve future developments in the city," said Roth.

She says it's another chance to be a part of the city's growth.

Related Topics:
businessbusinessretailshoppingcensusemploymentPalo Alto
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