San Jose – Silicon Valley’s Urban Center

San Jose’s Office of Economic Development (OED) is committed to driving a vital and competitive economy that increases prosperity and quality of life for our residents and businesses. OED guides the City’s Economic Strategy, provides business assistance, connects employers to a highly skilled workforce, and supports art and cultural resources to inspire our community.


Office of Economic Development’s Mission

Catalyze job creation, private investment, revenue generation, and talent attraction and development through:

  • Business Development
    Assist business location and expansion, lead San Jose’s Economic Strategy and support City Council policy-making.
  • Real Estate Services
    Manage the City’s real estate assets and facilitate real estate-related transactions to support City projects and generate revenue.
  • Arts and Culture
    Support diverse cultural amenities, offerings and organizations, and authorize and coordinate outdoor special events on public and private property.

Our Team

Bill Ekern

As the Diridon Project Manager for the City of San Jose, Bill is leading the City's efforts to assure implementation and development of a world class transportation center as the catalyst for economic and cultural growth for the City and Bay Area.  Projects involve coordination of transportation agencies and the City of San Jose to create the rules and structure that will be necessary to integrate a new intermodal transportation center with private development to assure the success of both the transportation systems and the private investment in this expansion of the City's Downtown. As the Interim Planning Director for the City of Milpitas, he was responsible for the implementation of the City's Transit Area Specific Plan designed to support the new BART station and linkage to the VTA light rail system.  More than 3,000 housing units were permitted along with a new hotel and several hundred thousand square feet of commercial retail during this one year effort. As the Assistant City Manager for Development in Redwood City, following on his role as Community Development Director, he was responsible for the implementation of the City's Downtown Precise Plan, bringing to the city more than 2,500 housing units and nearly one million square feet of new office to establish Redwood City as a significant player in transit-oriented development and design.  He also negotiated the Development Agreement with Stanford University to bring its plans for new office development and campus support with the first community benefit program for the City. From 1998 to 2011, prior to the demise of redevelopment in the state, he served as the Director of Project Management/Special Projects for the City of San Jose's Redevelopment Agency.  During this tenure he led the design and implementation of significant projects such as the MLK Library (the first joint public and university library in the United States), the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Mexican Heritage Plaza, Horace Mann Elementary School, the transformation of the California-Fox Theatre into the home of San Jose Opera, and the reconstruction of the Civic Auditorium. He has also served as the Senior Development Officer for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, Community Development Director for the City of Albany, and the Director of Public Works for the Town of Los Altos Hills. 

Bill Ekern

Diridon Project Manager

Blage Zelalich

As Downtown Manager, Zelalich serves as the City’s primary lead for downtown issues, opportunities, and relationship management, working with City departments and community stakeholders. As a steward of the City’s downtown vision and strategy, she coordinates policies and programs that impact downtown employers, retailers, workforce, residents, and visitors. She also serves as one of the City Manager’s two appointees to the PBID Board. From 2004 until joining OED, she was Deputy Director of San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA), providing leadership for the association’s government relations, media relations and advocacy activities, and leading the development of the “property-based improvement district” (PBID) that involves businesses to invest in supplemental services to significantly upgrade the downtown environment. She was also responsible for events and sponsorships representing half of the association’s $3 million annual budget. She joined the San Jose Downtown Association in 1998 as Promotions Manager and then Promotions Director, responsible for all the organization’s events, including Downtown Farmers’ Market, Music in the Park, SoFA Festival, and Downtown ICE. Prior to working at SJDA, Zelalich worked as an event and community relations organizer for the San Francisco Giants Community Fund and was a research assistant at Genentech. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biomechanics from the University of California, Davis, and an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of San Francisco McLaren School of Business.

Blage Zelalich

Assistant to the City Manager / Downtown Manager

Chris Burton

Chris Burton is Deputy Director, Office of Economic Development. In this role, Chris leads San Jose's Business Development Team, which is housed in Office of Economic Development, and is responsible for the City's relationship with its major corporate employers, largest revenue generators, and fastest growing emerging technology start-ups. Beyond his citywide business development responsibilities, Chris provides project management and strategic policy support in areas including land use, the economic strategy and public/private partnerships. In 2012, Chris co-founded the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Roundtable, a multi-jurisdictional collaborative that brings together industry, academia and the public sector to address issues facing the regions manufacturing ecosystem. Prior to joining the Office of Economic Development, Chris worked in the City's Planning Division as an industrial project manager, working on over 200 development projects in San Jose's major employment centers. Prior to this, Chris served as a sales and marketing associate with BEST Direct Network, an internet communications start-up, and headed up the UK office before transitioning to Silicon Valley. Chris holds a first class honors degree in Human Geography from the University of Westminster, London.

Chris Burton

Deputy Director

Donovan Lazaro

Donovan joined the OED after interning at the Mayor’s Office where he worked on local planning and development issues. A night-time grad student in the Urban and Regional Planning program at San Jose State University, Donovan is highly passionate about spurring development and facilitating public-private partnerships to drive social good. Prior to joining the City, Donovan worked in the local tech sector and has experience working in both the large company and startup environments. Donovan loves to travel and is always seeking out new places to get a good meal.

Donovan Lazaro

Business Development Officer

Elisabeth Handler

With experience at large and small agencies and managing in-house corporate public relations for national and regional companies and organizations, Elisabeth has worked with technology, healthcare, consumer product and corporate clients. As an independent content strategist, she developed content for San Jose-based design firm AAI, the HeartMath Institute, Age-Friendly Santa Clara County, healthcare start-up HelpMeWell, national job site HireMojo.com, and for several years managed coordination of 80+ speakers and implemented media relations for San Jose’s answer to SxSW - Creative Convergence Silicon Valley (C2SV). She has managed account work and created national communication strategies for clients such as Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Santa Clara County  Toshiba America, Hewlett-Packard, UPI, Novell, Microsoft, Lower My Bills, Levi-Strauss, Anheuser-Busch, Ralston-Purina, Blue Cross of California, PacifiCare Health Systems, AMI Hospitals, and California Milk Advisory Board. After moving to San José, she served as Public Information Officer for Santa Clara Family Health Plan, and managed a regional integrated communications agency in Silicon Valley with clients in the retail, construction, technology, wine, healthcare and not-for-profit sectors. With a degree in cultural anthropology from Harvard University, she is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America, and for 12 years she taught public relations at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She served on the Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association-Silicon Valley and Public Relations Society of America Silicon Valley chapter.

Elisabeth Handler

Public Information Manager

Isela Chaparro

Executive Assistant to Kim Walesh

Joe Hedges

Joe has been with the City since 1991.  He currently oversees a variety of international programs, including the Foreign Trade Zone, business retention and attraction initiatives for international businesses, and the City’s Sister City program.  Prior to joining the City of San Jose, he planned and implemented several large international business, trade and legal conferences in Japan, China, Russia, and the U.S. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational and Mass Communications from Eastern Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Communications from Washington State University.

Joe Hedges

International Affairs Manager

Kim Walesh

Kim Walesh is Director of Economic Development and Deputy City Manager for the City of San Jose, the nation’s 10th largest city and Capital of Silicon Valley. Kim has a strong track record of turning ideas into action, working with diverse interests. Throughout her career, Kim has helped leaders collaborate across disciplines in order to create economic opportunity, strengthen sense of community, and design environments that make people happier, healthier, and more productive. She’s inspired to create the next generation of great cities that work for people and for business. At the City of San Jose, Kim leads implementation of city’s comprehensive economic strategy to catalyze job growth, private investment, revenue generation, and talent attraction. She oversees citywide initiatives in business retention and attraction, downtown development, cultural vitality, workforce development, and real estate. As Deputy City Manager, Kim provides leadership and strategic coordination to city departments shaping the future of the city, including planning, development services, housing, transportation, airport, and cultural affairs. She assists the City’s executive leadership team with civic innovation and strategic planning. Prior to joining San Jose, Kim was Co-Founder and Managing Director of Collaborative Economics--a Silicon Valley-based consultancy that works with business and civic leaders to build stronger economies and better communities. She advised leaders on development challenges at the local, regional, and state levels across the United States. She pioneered new approaches to industry cluster engagement, measuring civic progress, and developing civic entrepreneurs.   Kim also served as Senior Policy Analyst at SRI International’s Center for Economic Competitiveness, where she played management and analytic roles in more than 20 state and regional competitiveness projects in North America, Asia, and Europe. Kim is co-author of the books Grassroots Leaders for a New Economy: How Civic Entrepreneurs Build Prosperous Communities and Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in American Communities. She has written more than 50 other reports and publications, including key documents about the Silicon Valley region. She is a founding board member SPUR San Jose, the ZERO1 Art and Technology network, and the Prospect Silicon Valley clean tech center. Kim holds a bachelors degree in economics and humanities from Valparaiso University and a master of public policy degree from Harvard University, where she was a Kennedy Fellow.

Kim Walesh

Director of Economic Development
Deputy City Manager

Loren Haley

Loren joined the Office of Economic Development in 2014 and manages a dynamic portfolio of City real estate projects, including acquisitions, dispositions, development and telecommunications. With robust transactional experience working as an associate at Sotheby's International Realty and as a sales team lead at Redfin.com, Loren enjoys deal negotiations and the strategic management of assets. Loren earned a B.A. in Economics from UC Santa Cruz and will complete an MBA from Santa Clara University in June 2017.

Loren Haley

Senior Executive Analyst
Real Estate Development Manager

Nanci Klein

Nanci has over 20 years of experience in economic development, negotiations, redevelopment, and policy budget work in local government. She is a consensus builder and creative thinker committed to developing solutions that work. Projects include the successful expansion of Cisco and eBay with in the City of San Jose, the City’s purchase of 75 acres adjacent to the San Jose Norman Y. Mineta Airport. Nanci was one of a three individuals that conceived of and designed the City’s landmark Demonstration Policy and has been a key negotiator in implementing most of the demonstration partnerships that are now underway in San Jose. Nanci has participated as a key member of the team that has developed the strategy and 25 year vision to realign North San Jose. Nanci also served as Project Manager for the redevelopment of the Hitachi Campus in South San Jose. She joined the City of San Jose, Office of Economic Development, in January of 1998. Her responsibilities include directing the Office’s economic development activities, holding key contacts with San Jose key business clients, development facilitation, revenue generation through effective sales and use tax and the attraction and redevelopment of key retail sites throughout the City in addition to directing the City’s real estate activities. Prior to joining the Office of Economic Development, she served as the Economic Development Manager for the City of San Leandro. During her tenure in San Leandro she lead several major projects for the City including a Downtown Plan, the design of a major marketing campaign, the initiation of an extensive new industrial redevelopment project area, and negotiation of several development deals on behalf of the City. Prior to that Nanci worked for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency for several years in project management, negotiations, and redevelopment plan formation.

Nanci Klein

Assistant Director of Economic Development
Director of Real Estate

Nathan Donato-Weinstein

Nathan Donato-Weinstein is a business development officer for San Jose’s Office of Economic Development. The department leads the city’s economic strategy, provides assistance for business success, connects employers with trained workers, manages city real estate and supports the arts. San Jose’s business development team is tasked with engaging with companies, developers and brokers to facilitate opportunities for growth in San Jose. Services include site-selection assistance, development facilitation and permit assistance. Prior to joining the city, Nathan was the real estate reporter at the Silicon Valley Business Journal, with a  focus on deal coverage, policy, market trends and transportation. He is particularly interested in the future of retail, office design and talent attraction. He first fell in love with cities as a child, playing SimCity for hours on end. His hobbies include riding his bike on the Los Gatos Creek Trail and collecting retro computer paraphernalia.

Nathan Donato-Weinstein

Business Development Officer

Sal Alvarez

Sal Alvarez is an executive analyst in the Office of Economic Development’s Downtown Management Team focusing on place-making and public space improvements that makes downtown San Jose Silicon Valley’s Civic Center. Sal is an experienced collaborator, connector and problem-solver applying his skills for the City of San Jose’s community and economic development needs since 2002. For nearly eight years he worked for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency’s award-winning Strong Neighborhoods Initiative implementing community plans, priority projects and programs that engaged nearly every city department. He is a two-time Pride of San Jose honoree for his work on the Foreclosure Task Force and the Gateway East Sanitary Sewer Project From 2011 to 2013 he served in the City Manager’s Office focused on cardroom regulations and emergency services. In 2014, Sal joined the Office of Economic Development’s Downtown Management Team. Sal received his B.A. in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 1995. He earned his Master of Public Administration degree from National University in 2011. Prior to his work with the City of San Jose he was the District Coordinator for California State Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist overseeing all issue areas in the heart of Silicon Valley. Sal is married to his amazing wife, Stacy, who are busy raising three girls of their own! A San Jose native, he grew up on a little ranch in the Evergreen foothills where he now lives in the house his grandparents built in 1971 next door to his parents. Sal gives back to his community as a member of the Evergreen Little League’s Board of Directors as a representative for softball. He gives back to his alma mater by serving on the UC Santa Cruz Dean of Social Sciences Board of Councilors.

Sal Alvarez

Executive Analyst

Tara Reid

Executive Assistant to Nanci Klein

Rankings & Awards







2014 Work2future Community Builder Awards Features, Target, Mohawk Industries, Bank Of America And More

2013 Work2Future Community Builder Awards Features Zazzle, Tivo, Wells Fargo And More

City Wins Top Award For Innovation And Globalization At 2014 Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet Awards

City Wins Three Of Seven Top Awards In 2013 For Innovation, Job Development And Growth At Turning Red Tape Into Red Carpet Awards

Pride of San Jose Awards

The Pride of San Jose honorees are selected by San Jose’s City Manager based upon the Employee Values of Integrity, Innovation, Excellence, Collaboration, Respect and Celebration for representing the highest level of public service and commitment to the City of San Jose and its residents.

2014 Honorees

Picture of Workforce Development Team

WorkForce Support and Development Team Wins Pride of San Jose Award 2014

2013 Honorees

Logo for Businessownerspace.com

Your Business Coaching Center Wins Pride of San Jose Award 2013

Logo for Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi

Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Team Wins Pride of San Jose Award 2013


2012 Honorees

Logo for All Nippon Airlines

Air Service Dream Team Wins Pride of San Jose Award 2012

Special Events Team Wins Pride of San Jose Award 2012


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