2017 Business Voice
It's 2017, time to get serious. With our 2025 Community Vision in hand, we've already set the groundwork for moving Chico forward in 5 key areas - 1. thriving businesses, 2. healthy city government, 3. public safety, 4. premier arts and recreation facilities, and 5. strong, vibrant lifestyle - and now we've set the metrics. From here forward, moving Chico forward will involve more than just talk and casual anecdotes about how things are improving, it will mean measuring progress against specific goals set by the business community.
Benchmarking our general fund reserve at $13 million dollars, for example, means that anything below this line demonstrates risk for our city. Last fiscal year, this figure sat at $0. We know, too, that our roads need TLC and not just because there are pot holes marring our city streets but because we can’t solve a $9 million dollar problem with only $1 million in hand. If our police staffing goal is 120 and we struggle to hold firm at 92, then we’ve got a widening gap with a direct and tangible impact on our ability to patrol the streets, investigate property crimes, and enforce traffic laws. The community feels this impact – and not in a good way. These are the numbers and they’re irrefutable, and now that we’re on the other side of the election we need to hold our civic leaders – and ourselves – accountable for what happens next.
What do you want for Chico? Please consider that question wearing all of your hats: business owner, property owner, homeowner, parent, citizen, student, whatever variation you may be. Answer the question earnestly and honestly because we’re going to need to know what you think in 2017. Every decision the City Council makes involving city finances will require us to very carefully articulate our priorities to ensure that if any sacrifices must be made they are the right ones. If faced with an either/or decision on police and fire department staffing, which would we choose? If we pitted roads against trees, or the airport against Bidwell park, or any other scenario, which would we choose? Resources are still limited but they are growing slowly. Let’s recover fully and grow in the right way, solidifying and stabilizing our economy as we go.
We also have to push the City for “yes,” even if it’s a “yes, but…” The days of retracting services or deferring projects and maintenance are over – businesses are growing and have needs. Many public services have been privatized, or are quasi-private following the Great Recession. The privatization process was painful because it shifted responsibility away from the City, but it was freeing for businesses that can now get things done on their own time with their own resources. As we move through the community identifying issues, i.e. with Team Chico, we need to be ready to at least partially invest in the solutions we require. The days of expecting our city government to take care of it all are firmly behind us.
In 2017, the Chico Chamber celebrates 110 years of guiding progress in Chico. This impressive statistic demonstrates the enduring power of an incredibly well organized business community. While it may seem like the Chamber has a nebulous focus at times given our full calendar, know that we are intentionally advancing the pillars that have long defined us: advocacy, economic development, business services like networking, and tourism. There are dozens of well-trenched avenues for you to travel if you are interested in getting involved, just drop me a line with the issue that peaks your interest most and I’ll help plug you in.
With that, I welcome our new leader to the helm! Rick Anderson with YP is Chairman of our Board and is committed to furthering and sharpening the analysis and influence we offer on some of the community’s biggest challenges, and to speaking with an ever-pointed voice to address the issues that matter most to business. Rick will leave an imprint that will last for years to come. As concerned as we are about today, we know that we have another 110 years in front of us and we see no reason to slow down now. Ready...set...go!