With approximately 1,000 storefronts and 1,500 small businesses in the area, the funding includes continued support for workforce training, quality of life improvements, and strategies for promoting new and existing businesses.
“Small businesses are important members of our San Francisco neighborhoods," Lee told Hoodline via email. "These businesses are our grocers, and our favorite family restaurants, and their success strengthens our communities."
The budget also earmarks funding for increased street lighting, alleyway beautification, improvements to the Stockton Tunnel and cultural activities that attract visitors.
OEWD Director Todd Rufo said his department is "basing our funding on what we’ve heard from nearly 969 businesses. We're talking to a lot of the merchants and understanding their needs."
One of the main concerns small business owners have voiced is how to activate the neighborhood during off-peak hours, said Rufo, who hopes to promote and invest in cultural events that take place when most Chinatown businesses have closed for the evening.
"After 6pm, everything is shut down," he said.
"What you're going to see is an investment in cultural events like Dancing on Waverly to bring more people and people from outside of town to the neighborhood to shop and dine and spend money," he added.
"In Chinatown, we want to ensure that we preserve the cultural experience and support the economic vitality of this historical neighborhood," Lee said.
Other programs that have received funding in the past from OEWD will be continued under the current budget, including a marketing program facilitated by the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), which promotes retail, social, and legacy businesses through Spotlight Chinatown.
Beautifying the Stockton Tunnel could boost the number of visitors to the neighborhood, Rufo said. "We're thinking about creating artwork, placards and other forms of street work to make it welcoming and refreshing and encouraging."
Part of the budget also aims to increase services for job training—particularly for recent immigrants.
"It could be additional ESL services," Rufo said, "or we can also connect these folks to a range of vocational training activities in health care, for example, construction or technology; all which are growing industries in San Francisco."
"These investments will help businesses continue to thrive and serve our local residents, and will make sure the neighborhood remains a primary destination for visitors," said Lee.
"This is about helping people discover Chinatown again and again," Rufo added. "It's not just about the food. It's about seeing the people and the culture."
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