Everyone talks about growing our economy. Here is how I would approach this topic, if elected Mayor.
START WITH A STRATEGY
We need a comprehensive strategy to help us approach economic development. Here are three elements that I believe are essential to success.
Develop a Revenue Plan. Our tax base reflects four primary types of revenues: Industrial, Retail, Tourism and Residential. As part of our General Plan update, we need to identify the right mix of these four categories. The goal is to ensure we will be economically sustainable at build out, as well as to create the ideal community we all want live in.
Identify the Capital Improvements Needed. If you don't have a road to access your property, you're not going to attract customers. Issues like roads, drainage, even water and wastewater, need to be identified and provided for, so we can accommodate new businesses.
Become "Business Friendly" again. We need to streamline our review and approval process, and identify the types of businesses we feel will work in our community--and then go out and recruit them. We also need to do all the marketing and branding that goes with promoting ourselves.
FOCUS ON SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
As noted above, there are four categories of development that we should consider. Here's some suggestions for each.
Expand upon our Industrial Base. Our Green Island Industrial Park will be getting a major facelift; we need to work with our local developers to take advantage of this by building on our two existing industries. First, we have several well-known Food & Beverage Companies (for example, Mezzetta, Coca Cola, Hess Winery); it's time to combine this with technology--think Wine Tech Center. Or we could grow our own artisan food companies.
Second, our warehouses have already turned into logistics and e-commerce centers--we need to capitalize on this as well. We could become a regional hub and high tech fulfillment center.
But any growth needs to be matched with workforce housing in American Canyon, and we need to create incentives to link our new jobs with housing, so our workers can live here, and vice versa.
Transform the 29 Corridor. Now that the Broadway District Specific Plan is complete, we need to combine land use and infrastructure, and transform the corridor. We should develop 3-4 distinct neighborhoods along Highway 29--communities that are walkable, have the necessary shops and services and are inter-connected with bike and pedestrian paths. Combined with Caltrans' efforts to improve traffic flow, and our plans to add landscaping and underground utilities, our residents will see a great return on their tax investment, both economically and environmentally.
Develop the Ruins as our Economic Engine. There is something almost magical about the Ruins at Watson Ranch. But we need to get better access to make it happen. I support fighting for a safe and economical "at-grade" railroad crossing at Rio Del Mar. If approved, it will save millions and expedite the development of this unique spot that will attract visitors and residents alike.
Even Residential Can Help! Not just adding new homes, but renovating our older neighborhoods is an economic tool. When homes are upgraded, it increases property values for the homeowner, and it increases property taxes for the City. We should explore ways to upgrade our older roads and utilities to encourage more private investments at the homeowner level.
These are just a few of my thoughts on building our economy. Growing our tax base is a great way to provide better services without raising taxes.