San Jose Market District

Funders: The Local Food Promotion Program of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services Agency funds this exploration of a San Jose Market District.

Partners: The Market District is a project of SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture Education), in partnership with BAE Urban Economics, with technical assistance from The Health Trust. A subgroup of the Food Works’ Technical Advisory Group, consisting of economic development, planning, and public health agencies, food sector businesses, and nonprofits will provide guidance and serve as liaisons to community stakeholders.

Date of Project: 2015 – Present

Background. Vibrant local food systems need production operations and distribution centers (e.g., wholesale markets, public markets, aggregation hubs, grocery chain depots, and farmers’ markets). The San Jose Market District is conceived of as a synergistic concentration of wholesale produce businesses and possibly, also local food production/processing businesses, within an industrial section of San Jose where some wholesale distributors are already established.

The need for a Market District Assessment was initially identified by several San Jose-based distributors a few years ago.  Now, this assessment fits in the current context of the city’s economic development goals to enhance economic activities in underserved and underutilized areas. It also supports San Jose’s recent Vision 2040 General Plan Update, which calls for designated and enhanced employment centers to accommodate (and attract) anticipated job growth. The project also aligns with regional goals for revitalization of local agriculture as well as transportation sector GHG reduction.

Purpose.  The purpose of this one-year planning project is to assess demand and opportunity for a San Jose Market District and related infrastructure to serve existing, and potentially new, co-located wholesale produce distributors and local specialty foods producers. The anticipated outcome of this planning project includes vetted recommendations, a cost/benefit analysis of priority recommendations, and an outline for a fundable proposal for either a Market District or enhanced infrastructure for produce distribution.  The goal is to catalyze investment in the produce distribution and local food production/processing sectors which are central to a vibrant local food system.

 Who Would Benefit? The Market District would increase the efficiency of distributors, support small independent grocery stores, create new markets for producers, and catalyze the emergence of new businesses (e.g., local specialty or ethnic food production companies, value-added food processors, etc.)

Context. The Market District project has become integrated into a more comprehensive related assessment, Food Works, which was funded at the same time.  Food Works will analyze the existing food supply chain and will provide a compelling vision and actionable recommendations for a food system that serves all San Jose communities.