In the latest Around Town column, news about millions of dollars dedicated to building the Center for Economic Mobility in East Palo Alto and a small salt-removal facility at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant in Palo Alto.
CASH INJECTION ... The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated unemployment over the past year, with many residents losing their jobs as companies were forced to downsize their staff. In an effort to build the local workforce, JobTrain is expected to receive a piece of California's $262 billion budget to help establish the Center for Economic Mobility in East Palo Alto with the Emerson Collective.
During a press conference on June 30, state Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, announced that $5 million was set aside for the project, contingent on Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the spending plan (the governor signed the state budget on July 12). Becker shared the news in a recorded message played during JobTrain's first in-person job fair since the pandemic started. The event featured more than 20 companies, including Ikea, Kaiser Permanente and the U.S. Postal Service.
"We know there's a pathway to better opportunities for better lives, economic stability and sustainability and ultimately economic prosperity," Becker said. "We know there are employers out there looking for employees."
JobTrain President and CEO Barrie Hathaway called the funding a "tremendous investment" for the project, which represents a new venture for the Menlo Park-based nonprofit.
An application for the 108,000-square-foot project at 2535 Pulgas Ave. was submitted to the city in July 2020 and remains under review, according to the city's website. JobTrain and the Emerson Collective have proposed a four-story building that would be occupied by both organizations. JobTrain plans to move its headquarters to the development, which would offer space for career training services, preschool, youth services and Cañada College.
AN EFFLUENT DISPLAY ... With drought on everyone's mind, city leaders from Palo Alto and Mountain View held a brief summit on June 18 at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant to highlight a project that both cities hope will help make water consumption more sustainable for decades to come.
Mayors Tom DuBois and Ellen Kamei met with Valley Water board member Gary Kremen at the Palo Alto facility to accept a $16 million check from the water district. Under the terms of the deal that the cities signed with Valley Water (formerly known as the Santa Clara Valley Water District) in 2019, the funds will be used for design and construction of a small salt-removal facility that will lower the salinity level of the recycled water at the treatment plant. Once that facility is built, the cities will sell half of their treated effluent to Valley Water, which would further purify it and mix it in with its potable water supply.
The check represents Valley Water's contribution toward the $20 million facility. The 76-year deal gave the water district 13 years to build the facility and obligated it to pay $200,000 to each of the partner agencies of the water treatment plant: Palo Alto, Mountain View, Stanford University, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and the East Palo Alto Sanitary District.
Kremen tweeted the photo of himself and the two mayors and wrote that he is honored to assist the cities with "increasing the quality of drought-resistant recycled water so that it can be used on Redwood trees and for cooling towers, reducing demand on Hetch Hetchy."