The City of San Jose is at the heart of the Silicon Valley, making it an exciting place to set up and grow a business. This section describes what makes San Jose such a great place for a new or small business – and gets you started on what you need to know to establish a new business in the City.
Why Consider San Jose?
The City of San Jose has the advantages of a big city, with fewer of the disadvantages.
- It has one of the lowest crime rates of any major city in the U.S.
- The San Jose Metropolitan Area has a strong economic standing in technology (over 64,300 high technology companies employing over 245,000 people) and manufacturing (1 out of every 5 workers in Santa Clara County is employed in manufacturing).
- People living in the San Jose Metropolitan Area have money to spend. The area ranks first in the U.S. in median household income ($76,000) according to the 2007 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau.
In light of the above, San Jose is a great place to live and work, and is an ideal place to establish a business. So what do you need to do to get started? Here you’ll find “nuts and bolts” information as well as resources that may prove valuable as your business grows.
Paying the San Jose City Business Tax
Any person or company conducting business within the City of San Jose must pay business tax prior to beginning business activity in the City – this is required whether or not an office is located in San Jose. The amount of tax owed depends on the type of business and the number of owners and employees.
To find out more information about the business tax for the City of San Jose, please visit the City Finance Department.
Obtaining a Business Tax Certificate within the City of San Jose
Once the City of San Jose business tax has been paid, a business license certificate will be provided to the person or company. This certificate also serves as an official receipt showing that tax was paid. The certificate must be displayed conspicuously in your place of business.
To find out more information about the business license for the City of San Jose, please visit the City Finance Department.
Obtaining Other Permits and Licenses
Check with CalGOLD Business Permits Made Simple to learn if you’ll need any other state, county, or city permits or licenses based on your profession, type of business, and other considerations.
Finding Space for Your Business
Whether you are leasing, buying, renovating, or building, the City of San Jose has special services to help small business owners find their way through the building and permitting process. The Small Business Ambassador Program links you with a single person who sees you through the entire process. The City provides information and incentives for programs such as parking analysis, infrastructure improvements, and more. Check the Development Services section of the City of San Jose website for more information.
Incentives offered by San Jose
The City offers several incentive programs for small business owners in a range of areas. Current programs include the following:
- Businesses locating in the Enterprise Zone can receive state tax credits including Sales and Use Tax Credits, Hiring Tax Credits, Business Expense Deductions, Net Operating Loss Carryover and Net Interest Deduction for Lenders. For more information, contact the San Jose Redevelopment Agency at 408-795-1813.
- Special Tenant Improvement Program (STI) in vacant buildings encourages companies to locate in vacant buildings within industrial and research and development uses, as well as office space in the Downtown Core. The program offers expedited plan review. For more information, contact the Building Department at 408-535-7765.
- Water Efficient Technologies (WET) offers rebates of up to $50,000 per water efficiency project to businesses that discharge to the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant. To find out more, contact the Environmental Services Department at 408-945-3000.
Financing Your San Jose-Based Business
The City sponsors a program to finance small business ventures:
- Recycling Market Development Zone provides low-interest state loans of up to $2 million and also technical, marketing and location assistance to San Jose manufacturers using recycled feedstock (such as glass, paper, plastic, or used tires). To find out more, contact the Environmental Services Department at 408-975-2527.
Doing Business with the City
The City of San Jose makes a special effort to provide small business access to procurement opportunities. The Small Business Opportunity Program (SBOP) provides increased outreach and better information exchange, with the goal of lowering barriers to competition through improvements to the City's processes. SBOP monitors and identifies effective program elements by tracking City performance. For more information, call 408-535-8181.
Sustainably San Jose
The City of San Jose prides itself on providing leadership in “green” and sustainable practices, including for small businesses. Some programs that support a green agenda include the following:
- The Recycling Market Development Zone provides low-interest state loans of up to $2 million and also technical, marketing and location assistance to San Jose manufacturers using recycled feedstock (such as glass, paper, plastic, or used tires). To find out more, contact the Environmental Services Department at 408-975-2527.
- Water Efficient Technologies (WET) offers rebates of up to $50,000 per water efficiency project to businesses that discharge to the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant. To find out more, contact the Environmental Services Department at 408-945-3000 or visit: http://www.slowtheflow.com/whatswet.html.
- Special Tenant Improvement Program (STI) in vacant buildings encourages companies to locate in vacant buildings within industrial and research and development uses, as well as office space in the Downtown Core. The program offers expedited plan. For more information, contact the Building Department at 408-535-7765.
- Running a business from your home is encouraged in San Jose. Businesses can be operated from a single-family attached or detached dwelling, duplex, apartment, or mobile home. The business use must be clearly incidental to the residential use of the dwelling (Home Occupation). All home occupations must conform to criteria set forth in the City's Municipal Code. To find out the requirements for operating a business from a residence please visit the Finance Department.
- An extensive business recycling program includes free supplies to begin recycling, a construction and demolition recycling program, and lower business garbage service rates when recycling is included. For more information about recycling in San Jose, contact the Environmental Services Department.
For more questions about doing business in San Jose, visit the City of San Jose Business Information Website.
How BOS Partners Can Help:
BOS partners can help you learn more about establishing and growing your business in San Jose. Each of the resources below has information and resources to assist you:
- AnewAmerica - San Jose
- City of San Jose - Finance
- Environmental Business Cluster
- Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara County
- Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley
- Northern California Minority Business Enterprise Center
- Opportunity Fund (Formerly Lenders for Community Development)
- San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce
- Silicon Valley SCORE - Counselors to America's Small Business
- Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center
- US Market Access Center
Additional Online Resources: