(These remarks were addressed to City Council at their meeting last night.)
My name is Au Nguyen. I am a Santa Clara resident.
This is a tale of two subsidies.
In June 2006, Nanosolar of Palo Alto went looking for a location to build their factory. This new factory would be huge. Nanosolar estimated that it “would nearly triple the nation's solar manufacturing capacity.” The Mercury News reported that San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Clara were considered.
Nanosolar eventually chose San Jose.
Five months later, just after Election Day, the 49ers said they want to build a stadium in Santa Clara. The city hired consultants to study the proposal.
On Sunday, the Mercury News reported that San Jose gave Nanosolar a subsidy of $1.5 million.
The 49ers want a $222M subsidy. This is 150 times more than the amount that Nanosolar got from San Jose.
Nanosolar said their factory will employ “several hundred people.” (SJMN, June 21, 2006)
The 49ers say the stadium will employ “316 people.” (KMA report, June 1, 2007, page 12.)
Also on Sunday, Julie Patel of the Mercury News reported that the total cost of our feasibility study may be as much as half a million dollars.
With what we’re spending just to examine the 49ers’ subsidy request, we could have been a third of the way to subsidizing a solar energy company. The two subsidies would have created about the same number of jobs.
Why are we so willing to spend money on professional football but not solar energy?
I am not in favor of any public subsidy for private enterprise, whether the for-profit corporation makes solar panels or puts on football games. I just want to highlight this comparison because of the similar number of jobs that would be created and the vastly dissimilar amounts of the subsidies.
In fact, the City of Santa Clara has a website to promote our city as a great place to do business. It lists the "top 5 reasons to move to Santa Clara:
- Lower energy rates
- Lowest combined utility rates
- Easy access and transportation
- Highly educated workforce
Last night, City Manager Jennifer Sparacino said it best when she remarked (in discussion of an unrelated subject) that we "just want all to be treated fairly and equally, without special favors."