No high resolution image exists...
Billed as the largest Business Walk in the nation, nearly 300 business people along with representatives of local chambers of commerce and public agencies, Sept. 30, swarmed out across 105 commercial corridors to ask a simple question: How’s business?
The answers given were upbeat and positive about the future.
In heat that felt like summer, more than 1,200 businesses had been visited, according to Matt Yancey, director of development for the Sacramento Metro Chamber. An official tally will be made soon, along with a report of the Business Walk findings, but several officials called it “the largest in the nation.”
Of course, how business is depends on the business doing the talking. Barbara Moore, co-owner of the family run Vannelli Foods in Placer County’s Sunset industrial park, is looking to hire dozen new workers to meet the demands of new deals to supply grocery chains with the company’s high-quality raviolis. What the company needs, Moore said, is additional electric power, plant space and working capital.
Just across the street from the ravioli plant, is Extra Innings, a franchise sports facility in the Sunset industrial park, where business has been slower than usual—but during the winter—it’s reservations only and baseball fans are turned away, said Barbara Bonnin, an employee.
“When it rains, we’re packed,” Bonnin said.
Taking notes on all this were business walkers Placer County associate planner Alex Fisch and area newcomer and jobseeker herself former project manager Michelle Thomas. They made up one of nearly 100 teams of two and three people for the day representing—in the words of Placer County Economic Development Director Dave Snyder, “an unprecedented partnership and collaboration on a grand scale.” That grand scale included representatives from Granite Bay area, city of Rocklin, Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce, city of Lincoln, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, city of Roseville, Roseville Chamber of Commerce, Placer County and the Sacramento Metro Chamber.
The Business Walks are part of a regional “best practices” strategy for business retention and expansion. Since 2007, this international award-winning strategy—called Metro Pulse—has logged face-to-face contacts of more than 5,000 businesses. In 2009, the Metro Chamber assisted its partners on five Business Walks, and currently the 2010 schedule will double that figure.
Snyder addressed the 300 who joined up in the morning at William Jessup University, telling them their volunteer work “trumpets a powerful message to potential and existing businesses alike—South Placer County is open for business.”
Or as Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill said, “For those of who say government doesn’t work for you—your work today proves them all wrong.”
Called the fundamental outreach strategy at the core of the region’s efforts to support existing businesses, the Metro Pulse partnership is made up of 16 economic development agencies and partners in the six-county region. During the visitation, three questions are asked: how’s business, what do you like about doing business here, and how can business be improved.
The afternoon wrap-up session—when all 300 participants regrouped at Thunder Valley Casino to go over their findings—found that “although in most cases, businesses was down to varying degree, to a business, they all said they were positive and upbeat about the future,” reported Snyder.
Indeed, no matter the locale—Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville, Lincoln or the Sunset industrial pocket—businesses reported being very happy with their location, happier with the fact that most people worked near where they live and impressed by the friendliness of customer and their loyalty.
Hal Silliman is the Communictions Director for Sacramento Metro Chamber.