Monterey Road is a major thoroughfare in California’s Silicon Valley that runs from the town of Gilroy northward to San Jose. The Sims Metal San Jose site occupies a large area of frontage along the corridor, which acts as a gateway to the downtown area. In 2016, Sims Metal engaged with a San Jose city council member and the city’s chief of staff to understand issues affecting the community, which ranged from illegal dumping to services for unhoused people.
“We started with site tours and morphed into introductions to some of the community leaders and businesses in the area,” said Jill Rodby, public/government relations manager for the Western United States. “With their support, I started The Monterey Corridor Business Association, an informal group that provides a platform for our businesses to stay aware of, and advocate for, best solutions to the problems that challenge our business community.”
The group immediately became a useful connection for city officials to meet and work with businesses in the corridor. Regular lunch meetings were hosted by Sims Metal before pandemic restrictions forced the meetings to be held online. “The mix of city officials, businesses, developers and community organisations has led to some unique opportunities to make an impact,” she explains.
For instance, there has been a focus on enhancing the appearance of the corridor itself. “The association was keen to reduce litter and dumping, as well as inject some life into the roadway, so Sims Metal engaged a Downtown Streets Team to provide biweekly clean-ups along the fence line of our property,” Jill stated.
The team members are unhoused neighbours or people at risk of experiencing homelessness, and the fees from organisations like Sims Metal help fund access to trained case managers, who assist team members with navigating support options, such as employment services.
“We were also really excited to welcome local artist and muralist Tomas ‘Wisper’ Talamantes to create artwork on the exterior of our site, creating two beautiful murals that pay homage to the diverse local community and to the work we do at Sims Metal,” said Jill.
Tomas, an ex-gang member, developed an art program called Teach Peace, where he teaches life lessons to young people in the San Jose area through art and mural projects.
As for the future of the group? Jill is excited. “Now we are working with the city to establish as a 501(c) non-profit organization to help secure the future of the association and expand the impact we can have. By early 2023, we hope to have everything in place and be able to meet in person once again.”
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