(Part 4 of a series)
Yesterday, we looked at how dairy processing, such as cheese-making and/or yogurt manufacturing could benefit Madera. This would work in the county because we have great agricultural capabilities and are No. 9 on the list of California counties in milk production, but all the milk produced in the county is shipped out of the county for processing.
Here are some other options available based on what we already do well:
- Create a Mexican cultural-commercial center. This is something the Madera Redevelopment Agency had worked on for years before the governor and Legislature shut the operation down. It actually is happening downtown, which is the fastest-growing retail center in Madera right now. The next step would be to go after business people who are skilled in creating such enterprises as outdoor markets and arts centers. The businesses that resulted likely would employ hundreds of Maderans at every level.
A lot of talk has been expended over the years toward fixing up downtown, and many of the elements already are there. Downtown can never be the way it was back in the 1960s when Madera was a much smaller place. It makes sense to foster economic growth around what already is happening through the hard work and sweat of Mexican business people.
- A new focus on tourism. Most people probably don’t think of Madera County as a tourist destination, but it is. Thousands pass through Madera and Madera County on their way to Yosemite National Park.
Here are just a few of the county’s offerings:
- The Fossil Discovery Center.
- Miles of scenic drives, both on the Valley floor (where visitors can stop at wineries and purchase wines from the people who make them) and into the foothills, where the mountain communities of Coarsegold, North Fork, Bass Lake and Oakhurst offer activities and entertainment.
- Plenty for gamblers to do, with two big casinos — Chukchansi and Table Mountain within short drives of each other (and a third, the planned North Fork resort and casino in the works).
- Madera has four hotels as well as motels.
- Families who camp, fish and go boating love Hensley and Eastman lakes which are within easy drives of Madera.
- We have ag events, and could have more. The first pomegranate festival was held last year. Three wine trails are held each year. Could there be an almond festival and a pistachio festival? Of course.
(Tomorrow: How to proceed with a business-development vision.)