Editor’s note: City Councilman Gary Svanda begins this series by making it clear we “can’t keep doing the same old things and expect that the outcome is going to be different.”
“We need to create opportunities,” Svanda said, by attracting “parallel industries that complement and highlight our agricultural base. We missed out on a cheese factory that went to Los Banos, and another one that went to Tulare. Wine and cheese, to me would be a perfect marriage.” He again mentioned the boutique wineries that have grown up around the Madera Wine Trail.
“And why not a farmer’s market?” he asked. “We have some of the most wonderful fruits and vegetables. Something like Casa de Fruita — call it Casa de Madera. Play on our diversities — not just fresh foods, but foods that reflect our diversity.” He mentioned Mexican, Italian and East Indian as foods and other items that could be sold at such a market. “Let’s use something like that to celebrate our diversities.
“Let’s start looking at the opportunities that we’ve been passing by for several years, and sell this to our community in terms of features and benefits.
“Absent that, we’re going to continue to struggle. We should form a coalition to work in new directions.”
He said the city and county couldn’t stay on the level they are now for very long. He said the economy must grow or it will shrink further.
Svanda said several groups were at work on economic development in certain areas, but that efforts were sporatic and spread out.
“Until we do something to change that, we won’t be able to turn this thing around.” He said if the North Fork Resort and Casino is built, new opportunities in tourism would emerge, but the county and city have to be ready to embrace them.
“If the Chukchansi, the folks at Table Mountain and the North Fork people unite in an effort to sell this area as a gambling destination, the opportunities will be endless,” he said.
On Tuesday, Madera County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Bobby Kahn talks about tourism and other opportunities the county and two cities may have.