Our View: Grass Valley taking appropriate steps to address retail
May 8, 2013
Smart growth, slow growth or no growth have been the oft-repeated phrases around the greater Grass Valley area for the better part of the past decade and beyond.
Concern that continued development would greatly harm the charm of living in the scenic Sierra foothills and threaten the livelihood of locally owned businesses has been evident on campaigns encouraging consumers to shop local, the demonization of the words "big box store" and the "Don't Roseville Grass Valley" bumper stickers often spotted around town over the years.
But as city of Grass Valley Economic Development Coordinator Jeri Amendola told The Union, "There is not an individual that at some point is not going down the hill to shop."
A 2011 study funded by the city of Grass Valley essentially confirms that. The Buxton Company report has shown local residents are still spending as much as $200 million per year in areas such as Auburn, Roseville and Sacramento. As plans for a new Walmart and Costco are slated for north Auburn, in addition to the Home Depot and Super Target that already draw dollars just 15-20 minutes down the road, the city of Grass Valley is taking a proactive approach in determining what, if any, sort of chain or franchise retail businesses its residents would support.
Though the local economy has shown signs of recovery — with the California Employment Development Department reporting 540 jobs added to Nevada County in 2012 and unemployment down to 8.4 percent in March, along with a burgeoning residential real estate market — there's still much to be done.
We are encouraged by the city's efforts to research and react in order to retain some of the revenue going "down the hill."
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And we applaud the approach of surveying local citizens on what they'd like to see come "up the hill."
By taking the survey (see this story online at TheUnion.com and visit the city of Grass Valley website to take the survey), residents are able to express their desire for more retail offerings on apparel, household furnishings, convenience and specialty merchandise, leisure, entertainment, restaurant, health and general services. A list of potential retailers — generated by the Buxton report from actual sales receipts of local residents — offers residents a chance to declare whether they believe the business "fits" the Grass Valley area.
But a few more questions should be considered before, during and after the surveys are completed:
Does it threaten local mom-and-pop businesses or larger locally owned companies?
Does Grass Valley have the population to support "big box stores?"
Does more retail make the city more attractive to newcomers?
Does it bring more jobs and career opportunities?
The survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and is confidential, although personal information is necessary for those who seek to serve on focus groups later this month on this topic. We encourage all western Nevada County residents to participate and let their voices be heard.
And we look forward to reading the results.
The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members.