Chamber of Commerce president and executive director Debi Bray’s conversation continues:
“I think programs like the graffiti-abatement program, neighborhood watch and the Madera Ministerial Association and Love Madera have done an outstanding job in promoting community pride. We already had that, but it continues to get stronger and stronger, and I think that’s one thing Madera has going for it is that we have these movements, and every time we have a success it’s a success for the whole community.
“I do think over the last few years, with the economic decline, that families have discovered more and more in the area of what’s available to them in tourism. I mentioned the Fossil Discovery Center and the Wine Trail, and Eastern Madera County which we have in a close proximity. But I think another thing Madera has in abundance is a lot of events. We have our fairs, we have our pomegranate festival — things that do bring people into the community. The one thing we may fall short on is the sports tourism.
“And, there are a lot of things that go on at the fairgrounds that we haven’t capitalized on. While in thinking about business development we see this big picture, making sure that the new casino happens, and the courthouse gets built, expansions at the hospital, and the road work that’s going on — we’re seeing construction all over the city — but I think when it comes right down to it that no matter how great these bigger things are, we’ve got to support our existing businesses as much as we can.”
Bray said the city needs more collaboration. “When I talk about collaboration, I mean the city, and the (former) RDA, the county, and getting the chamber in there and the EDC.
“Our citizens need to recognize that while everyone wants an Applebees, and wants Target to come here, and everybody wants Costco, but one of the things that is a battle is our average income. It’s not high enough to attract. But then, those who do have money to spend take it elsewhere to spend it. Those owners think, ‘Well, they (Maderans) are only 20 minutes away from Costco, why would we want to put another store up there when they come down here anyway?
“We need to include the citizens and make sure we’re doing all we can to exceed their expectations, so that when people come here and consider putting businesses here we can show them it’s worth doing.”
Next: District 4 Supervisor Max Rodriguez gives his views of business development.