A push for economic development permeated Tuesday’s City Council meeting with all of the various agenda topics touching on the issue in one way or another.
The topic was first broached when Councilman Howard Levine asked to discuss funding for a focus group on local commerce, which was originally scheduled to be passed as part of a group-approval of matters not anticipated to need deliberation.
With Tuesday’s council approval, the city is slated to fund $7,500 for retail focus groups to gauge the shopping habits and preferences of residents in the surrounding area.
Levine asked Economic Development Coordinator Jeri Amendola to explain the need for such a study and how it differs from the one the city paid Fort Worth, Texas-based Buxton Co. $65,000 for to provide shopping data to the city.
Buxton is one of the largest nationwide purchasers of customer analytic data, spending more than $8 million annually from more than 250 different sources. By analyzing credit card purchases of locals in other communities, such as Roseville, Auburn and Sacramento, Buxton can gauge what needs are not being met locally.
“Buxton is data matching. We want to take that and see what the community actually wants,” Amendola said. “If we can find out what perceptions, objections and what the community may like, we are being more proactive.”
By being more proactive, Amendola was referring to business recruitment, which is economic development.
“We have major spending leakages,” Amendola said. “We need to capture that.”
With the council’s approval, Chico-based Chabin Concepts will be paid $6,500 of Community Development Block Grant funds to facilitate the focus groups. The remainder of the funding by the city will go to miscellaneous costs.
Economic development was again raised when the council reviewed city staff’s draft of the 2013-14 strategic plan based on priorities, goals and strategies outlined during a December workshop.
Levine asked that economic development be more prominently articulated as a priority, citing the city’s need to supplement the tax increase recently approved by voters because it has a 10-year sunset clause.
Councilman Jason Fouyer posited that staff’s 2013-14 strategic plan was more focused on the next 12 months, whereas economic development was a long-term goal that required short-term steps.
As such, Fouyer questioned whether a long-term strategic planning session would be better suited to prioritize short-term strategic plans.
Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout pointed out that the city’s budget workshop, which council was also tasked with scheduling Tuesday, was traditionally when long-term strategies are outlined. Council tentatively set March 21 and April 18 as the dates for this year’s budget workshop.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.