Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Moving Chico Forward By Addressing Public Safety Needs

Good evening, City council members. I’m Katie Simmons, President & CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

As Mark Francis, President & CEO of Golden Valley Bank, and Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, likes to say: everything we see is a result of a successful business, from the clothes on our backs, to the food on our tables, to the jobs that allow for the purchase of homes. Businesses make all of these things possible for our community.

It is also true that Chico is built upon a foundation of compassion and is a deeply generous community, led in no small part by the businesses that give to our shelters, services, churches, and community-based organizations with missions dedicated to improving lives. The level of giving and compassion that runs powerfully and quietly through our community is at risk.  It is at risk because of a feeling of lawlessness that pervades perceptions and experiences in Chico.

Without adequate accountability and enforcement to maintain civility, and standards and expectations upheld for all citizens, there is a growing sense of decline in our community and a noticeable erosion of confidence in our downtown and other business districts, neighborhoods, and green spaces. And with these increasing frustrations and a sense of being unheard, come acts of vigilantism and extremism that put everyone at risk.

Community members are reaching and surpassing personal limits every day, and we are sitting on the precipice of watching the generous culture and character of Chico change irrevocably. This ordinance will not solve everything, nor does it complete the spectrum of needs we have in this community, but it sets a tone to our businesses and to our community at large that the crimes and bad behaviors we have witnessed, been victims of, or heard about are not OK in Chico.

We must continue to fill the gaps in our enforcement tool box with ordinances like this, as well as create much-needed bridges into services through partnerships that the Chamber actively participates in. One will not be successful without the other in meeting the needs of all citizens in Chico, and the business community has been part of the solution all along.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Last night, Chico joined a growing list of California cities approving the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). This small assessment on lodging stays will generate funds for dedicated destination marketing of Chico and, if other neighboring communities join in, all of Butte County. Whereas Transient Occupancy Tax was once used for this purpose, the TBID will provide a sustainable funding source over time to attract visitors for overnight stays, increasing the patronage of our hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, and more. We're pleased that the City Council voted in favor of this proven strategy for tourism development.

You may have heard about the "Safety Meetings" we're hosting around town with Team Chico and the Chico Police Department.  Building off of our business walks and the Nord Corridor & South Campus safety meetings we hosted in June and July, we're bringing these opportunities to other business districts in Chico to improve communications and connectivity with law enforcement. These meetings are free and open to business and property owners in each area, as well as to residents who have an interest in participating.

Upcoming meetings:
  • Mangrove and Vallombrosa Avenues & Bidwell Park: Monday, September 21st, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the CARD Community Room, 545 Vallombrosa Avenue. 
  • Nord Corridor & South Campus Area: Wednesday, September 23rd, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m., Azad's Martial Arts Family Center, 313 Walnut Street, Chico.
  • Park Avenue Corridor & Surrounding Areas: Thursday, October 22nd, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. at Chico Country Day Middle School Common Area, 1054 Broadway.
  • Downtown Chico: Tuesday, November 17th, 9 - 10 a.m. in the Old Municipal Building conference room, 441 Main Street. 
  • Safety meetings are planned for the Rio Lindo Area and Chico Airport in the immediate future. Additional meetings will be hosted throughout business districts in Chico in 2016.
If you wish to host a meeting at your business, please let me know!

In other news, we're dedicating the entire month of October to generating member awareness and feedback!  We'll be releasing a month-long survey asking for your input on what the Chamber of the future looks like. With the roll out of our Community Vision last month, it's time to build our Chamber Vision together. Stay tuned!