Most of the world sees San José, Calif. as the capital of Silicon Valley, a creative tech hub drawing extraordinary talent to some of the world’s largest media companies like Google, Facebook and more.
Yet the country’s 10th largest city faces significant challenges, including gaping economic disparity and a significant digital divide. Richard Florida, a leading intellectual on economic competitiveness, writes that wage inequality in San José, Calif. is the second largest in the country.
We recently asked several of the community’s leaders from philanthropy, government and the arts what they see as their city’s greatest assets and biggest challenges.
Here’s what they had to say:
E.W.: San José and Silicon Valley are rich in diversity – its residents represent an incredible range of cultural traditions and languages, and we enjoy an environment that encompasses beautiful open spaces, farmland and vibrant urban neighborhoods. The innovations generated by our universities and businesses – from global corporations to one-person startups – often make Silicon Valley residents feel as if the solutions to the world’s toughest problems must surely be within reach.
And yet there are still enormous issues that divide us. Serious and growing economic disparity between rich and poor, unequal access to digital technology and education, lack of affordable housing and inadequate transportation systems are among them. Striving to narrow the gap between those who have and those in need is what makes our work at the community foundation rewarding.
Connie Martinez, managing director and CEO of 1stACT Silicon Valley (which seeks to make downtown San José a more viable, fun and friendly place to live) and Executive Director of the Arts Council of Silicon Valley: