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State of Downtown: ‘Dreamers are welcome’

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The 15th State of Downtown Breakfast took place last Tuesday morning at the Sacramento Convention Center, with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as keynote speaker.

Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, opened the event and ran through a plethora of topics and issues. Public safety, K Street, the sale of Downtown Plaza and parks are just a few of the many that were highlighted.

“Personal connection makes a difference,” Ault said, regarding the 26 new businesses that opened up in the district last year. Ault cited the executive committee’s efforts to get to know brokers, owners and storefronts as the difference. He was optimistic about the strides that have been made, but also called out to civic leaders, property owners, entrepreneurs and downtown brokers.

“We need our civic leaders to instill a culture of can-do attitude and create a start-up-friendly focus at all levels of city and county government. Together we can foster an environment that helps cultivate local talent.”

“We need to be creative,” said Ault in reference to developing the area and dealing with competition.

The annual VIBE award is given for just this, and this year it was given to Sid Garcia-Heberger for her work with the Crest Theatre.

Nominees for this year’s award included Troy Carlson (Theatre of Lights), Carina Lampkin (Blackbird Kitchen & Bar), La Shelle Dozier (Studios at Hotel Berry) and Mike Hargis and Clay Nutting (Launch Festival). Nominee videos can be viewed by clicking on the name of each nominee.

Ault also said a few words about outgoing Police Chief Rick Braziel and all that he has done for the downtown area.

Mayor Kevin Johnson began by thanking the elected officials in the room before going on to discuss the year’s accomplishments and the process he referred to as “shifting from recession to recovery.”

Johnson’s next item of discussion was a “state-of-the-art entertainment and sports complex.” He introduced keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, but beforehand spent just under ten minutes introducing and detailing his “Playing to Win Strategy” regarding the Kings, a downtown stadium and the March 1 NBA filing deadline – all following the model San Francisco used with the Giants.

Newsom applauded Johnson for his persistence in “a world that is so in need of leadership,” and echoed Ault’s call for creativity.

“What world are we living in?” Newsom asked, using words like unique, individual and distinctive, but also Facebook, Twitter, apps and the Cloud.

Newsom strongly stressed the importance of learning from your competitors, whatever your business.

“We’ve got to get back to the future business,” Newsom said. 

“If you don’t like the way the world is when you’re standing up, stand on your head; go local. Remarkable things are happening in local governments.”

Just minutes after using Wal-Mart to demonstrate how to case your competitors, Newsom went on to underscore the importance of the little things.

“Sweat the small stuff,” Newsom advised, in closing.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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