Business Retention and Expansion is one of the most important aspects of economic development as it helps our existing businesses grow and allows the Vista C.A.R.E.S Business Walk to continue to be a valuable tool the City can use to help businesses thrive and succeed in Vista. The entire US economy is reflective in the Vista Business Park this year as there has been a decrease in exports from the US nationally. Vista is at one of its lowest vacancy rates which shows that businesses are staying in Vista and are continuing to grow over time.
The Vista C.A.R.E.S (Communicate, Assist, Retain, Expand, Support) program is the City’s targeted approach to business retention. The program’s core function focuses on businesses meeting frequently with City officials in an effort to understand their unique needs and concerns, and to offer assistance in creating an environment in which businesses can succeed and the community can prosper.
On Wednesday May 8th, the Vista Chamber of Commerce and the City of Vista staff conducted a downtown Vista business walk. They started at the Wavelength Brewery, coffee and pastries were provided by Main Street Bistro. Mayor Judy Ritter, Vista Economic Development Director Kevin Ham, and Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO Rachel Beld, gave a quick training to thirty volunteers regarding the questions that they would be asking. The plan was to visit 230 businesses in the downtown area with open ended questions such as, ‘What one thing would help your business grow?’ The volunteers asked the businesses for 5-10 minutes of their time and many of them wanted to spend 15 plus minutes. If contact could not be made, they left a Survey with an employee or a packet at their door. The companies they did not make contact with will be followed up on at a later date. The teams met back at Wavelength Brewing at noon and lunch was prepared by the Yellow Deli.
Kevin Ham, City of Vista’s Economic Development Director said, “The business walk allows us the opportunity to meet face to face with businesses and see what their concerns are and how we might be able to help them in creative ways to solve issues that they might be facing. Many times this gives us an opportunity to hear something for the first time that we may not have heard in person and they are able to meet individuals from the Chamber of Commerce, the business community and the City that can directly address their issues. We then go back and compile the information at the City and meet with them if a follow up is needed. At the Mayor’s State of the Community Address we present the results, both for the downtown and for the business park Business Walk in January of each year. However, as soon as we compile the results, we immediately follow up with those questions, concerns, issues and ideas that are brought to us. Some of them we meet back with as soon as a week later.”
The Business Park walk is usually done in September. It is amazing what goes on inside all of those buildings
City Councilmember Corinna Contreras said, “I think it is really great to speak with our downtown businesses and hear what they want in their environment that they deal with on a day to day basis and how the City can be a better partner for them to further their goals. Ultimately what we want to do, is to create a really good environment for businesses and for their community. In a lot of the conversations, both of those issues came up. It’s been really great to hear directly from the businesses how certain projects have related to an increase of foot traffic for them and suggestions that they have for furthering different projects downtown and events. It was just a great opportunity to hear from the businesses directly today.”