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For Immediate Release

“Business Climate Best by Government Test”
City Puts a Spotlight on Economic Development

Redwood City, CA - October 31 2011 - Everyone knows that Redwood City enjoys “Climate Best by Government Test” - and that includes the City’s business climate. With City Council leadership, the City is making its business climate best through a variety of efforts, moving forward this year with its Economic Development Action Plan, and making progress in helping to invigorate the City’s economic base. Attracting, growing, and retaining businesses throughout the City benefits the entire community by providing revenues that fund city services like parks, police and fire services and libraries. And more economic activity means more a more vibrant, appealing, and attractive community.

The City Council’s Economic Development Sub-Committee created the foundation for implementing an Economic Development Action Plan (online at www.redwoodcity.org/econdevplan), which was created for the City by well-known economic development consultant Susan Barnes (who is also the former economic development director for the City of Palo Alto). A Downtown Business Development Specialist, Edesa Bitbadal joined the economic development effort and works closely with Downtown businesses on permitting, Downtown beautification, and advocating for Downtown business needs. Together with the City Manager and key staff they have been implementing the Economic Development Action Plan. Here’s an overview of some of the plan’s key elements and progress to date.

Business Outreach MeetingsThe City must fully understand local businesses’ needs, opportunities, challenges, and plans, and how City staff might assist them and facilitate their success. After interviewing over 35 businesses and business organizations, focused business groups were convened in September and October to identify challenges facing local businesses and ways in which the City can be a partner in successful outcomes. Four specific business groups were involved: major employers/top sales tax generators; Downtown businesses; emerging technology businesses; and brokers/developers/property owners.

Some important information and perspectives were shared, relationships built, and new lines of ongoing communication opened. By providing this venue for communication, the City is working to be more accommodating, flexible, and business friendly.

Downtown Businesses - Business attraction, retention, and development in our Downtown area is a particularly high priority. The City is in touch with local brokers and businesses, and is making visits to businesses in other nearby cities, to market our Downtown as a great place to locate. There is also close communication with owners of vacant properties aimed at helping them to upgrade their site appearance to make our Downtown more appealing. Staff is working with existing Downtown businesses to enhance their marketing efforts. With new businesses coming to Redwood City, staff is smoothing the way for them through the permitting process so they can more quickly open and be successful. While activating Downtown space creates services and a sense of place, it also creates the environment for attracting the best and brightest companies. Businesses such as Propel and CleanTech have indicated that their choice of Redwood City was in large part due to many amenities offered Downtown, and the direct access to Caltrain.

Vacancy rates Downtown have decreased 18% (by about 19,000 square feet) since March of this year. The latest additions include: Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi, The Sandwich Spot, The Patty Shack Burgers, Ike’s Place sandwiches, Redwood Creek Grill, Captain’s clothing store, Belle Nail Spa, Saba Café, Yoppi Frozen Yogurt, and the Old Spaghetti Factory

Economic Development and Business Sector Data - a major update to the City’s geographic information system (GIS) has been implemented, providing more map layers detailing our business environment including business sector, location, size, and other key factors. Also, Redwood City business license data is now available to the public on our Community GIS web page. This information includes business type, contact information, number of employees, and other details. City staff is always available to assist businesses (and potential businesses) in accessing this important data, which helps them to make smart, strategic business decisions.

Through these and related efforts, Redwood City is putting into place a renewed, dynamic concentration on economic development, which is helping to establish a solid foundation for enhancing the City’s economic viability.

Visit Redwood City’s award-winning website at www.redwoodcity.org for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, and local business. Subscribe to Redwood City’s newsletters and other City documents at www.redwoodcity.org/egov.

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Contact:         
Bob Bell
City Manager
650-780-7300                      

 
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