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November 16, 2018 11:46am
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City of Sunnyvale Makes It Work

2010 has seen the City of Sunnyvale make good use of federal stimulus money

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Most people will pretty much agree that it's been an up-and-down economic year. On a national scale, there are plenty of battles about the right way and wrong way to spend money; on a much smaller, local scale, 2010 has seen the City of Sunnyvale make good use of federal stimulus money. Not only has this money been used to provide public works jobs, it's also done quite a bit to help out the city so that citizens can better enjoy life in Sunnyvale.

The city's program to manage and oversee stimulus money and the related public works projects is called, appropriately enough, Sunnyvale Works! with the slogan of "Creating jobs right at home." When the program launched in April 2009, the nest egg was $100 million. In 2009, the city used this money to complete a number of projects both big (Wolfe Road Bridge repairs  over Caltrain) and small (manhole restoration, road resurfacing). In 2010, the scope expanded greatly, and the number of created jobs is estimated in excess of 600.

It's a mistake to call Sunnyvale Works! a job program. As the website puts it:

"Sunnyvale Works! is not in and of itself a jobs program. Rather, jobs will be created by outside companies who are awarded contracts for Sunnyvale Works! projects."

However, local work through contractors is still work. And you can't argue with the logistical benefits of fixing roads and repairing bridges. In fact, Sunnyvale Works! was so successful in its first eight months that PublicCEO magazine named it the Public Works Project of the Year. In its award, PublicCEO publisher James Spencer stated, "Sunnyvale Works! earned the honor by PublicCEO not only for the work accomplished thus far but more significantly because it has demonstrated how to accelerate capital improvement projects on a scale not possible until now."

That's high praise for City Manager Gary Luebbers and his team. And in the past year, there are plenty of signs all over the city that the money is being put to good use. Gas lines have been replaced, accessibility ramps have been installed, roads have been resurfaced, and storm systems have been implemented. Sunnyvale's water system has had extensive work done, ensuring clean water and a healthy reservoir and pump system. These projects may not be as glamorous as the downtown redevelopment, but they affect the everyday lives of people living, visiting, and working in Sunnyvale. In short, it's as important as the community itself.

Not everything that's requested gets approved, mind you. Some ideas -- such as hybrid trucks for city use -- haven't been approved, and a good chunk of the money is pending application approval with no guarantee that it'll go through. Nonetheless, Sunnyvale Works! is a testament to how city management can take an opportunity like federal stimulus money and turn it into an efficient, well-planned, and productive process. Regardless of your politics or thoughts of the stimulus bill as a whole, credit has to be given to Sunnyvale's planning and management staff; they've taken what's been given and executed without the nightmares of red tape and bureaucracy that slow down so many government works projects.

For more information on Sunnyvale Works!, along with updates on how the federal stimulus money is being spent, visit the City of Sunnyvale's website. Also, don’t forget about our jobs section – you just might find some public works opportunities there!

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