During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Bryan Montgomery and consultant Jim Zauher discussed the latest developments in the plan that was adopted by the council in November of last year.
Zauher operates under the motto “Economic Development is a process, not an event.” Since the city’s economic development won’t occur overnight, Zauher said the City Council and staff must exhibit patience as they prepare for the economy to stabilize. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done in the meantime. Despite the recession, Oakley is taking baby steps toward a solid multi-year economic plan that will pave the way for industry, retail and restaurants.
In his report, Zauher wrote: “The City of Oakley is in a unique position being a part of a regional growth pattern on the eastern fringe of the metro Bay Area. The Bay Area has consistently rejuvenated itself from past recessions and is expected to do so again. Oakley has many amenities to offer Bay Area companies who might be seeking expansion opportunities, but should take the opportunity of the downturn to prepare itself to be a prime location for new investment and job creation.”
During this downturn, Zauher is helping market Oakley as a business-friendly community ready to accommodate new and expanding businesses while maintaining its small-town charm.
Mayor Pat Anderson said that while attracting new business is important for Oakley’s future, job creation is a top priority for new and existing businesses. The city must also support the businesses that have called Oakley home for years.
“We have to help people live, work and play here,” Anderson said. “I am a lucky one. I get to live, work and play here. I think we need to help others and we need to create more jobs to make that happen.”
City Manager Bryan Montgomery said in order to bring high-paying jobs to Oakley, there needs to be an established incentives program to help bring industry and small businesses to the city. By offering incentives such as fee deferrals and waivers, and expediting permitting, new businesses will view Oakley as a good location.
Zauher said resources and incentives already exist to help bring business to Oakley. He cited Los Medanos College, which offers a variety of training programs for jobs in industry. Incoming businesses should realize that a pool of skilled employees exists in the surrounding area, which will make Oakley a more viable option.
Montgomery said the city’s ongoing public works projects and civic developments are also an incentive that has been in the works since the city’s inception. By improving city streets, building neighborhoods and creating parks and playgrounds, Oakley has become a gem in Contra Costa County that’s waiting to be discovered. By implementing a formal economic development plan, outside agencies and businesses will come to see what Oakley residents and business owners have known for years.
The city is also working on other ways to advance the economic plan during the downturn. Montgomery and Councilman Kevin Romick have been working with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce to develop a “Shop local – shop Oakley” campaign. Vice Mayor Jim Frazier suggested the city host a summit for local business and commercial property owners to introduce the Economic Development Plan and explain Oakley’s vision for the future. Councilman Bruce Connelley supported the idea of pursuing an “eye-to-eye” conversation with local business owners to make sure everyone is on the same page. Montgomery and Zauher said they would look into hosting such an event.
Public input is still welcome, but no one from the audience offered any suggestions, questions or concerns at Tuesday’s meeting.
To review the Economic Development Plan, visit www.oakleyinfo.com.