RP plots its fiscal future
Business retention, tourist attraction top city’s priorities slate
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By Mira Brody  March 28, 2014 12:00 am

“The season for planning is passed, the season for acting is here,” noted Rohnert Park senior analyst Bryce Atkins, a phrase embraced by the City Council during their meeting last Tuesday, March 25. 

City Manager Darrin Jenkins presented a preliminary framework of near-future economic development for the city. The report, which bulleted business retention and expansion, business attraction and tourism, was discussed and embraced by members of the council and deemed vital to the growth of Rohnert Park.

“We are the heart of Sonoma County,” said Jenkins during his presentation. “We have free parking, easy access through Stony Point, Highway 101 and Petaluma Hill Road. We have less traffic and our buildings are younger.”

He noted that in the last couple years, Rohnert Park had been removed from the Sonoma County Board of Tourism map, and his plans include getting back on there so those coming to the county are encouraged to visit.

“We hope to advise the businesses as to what their resources are, and show them what they need and what’s available to them,” says Jenkins, noting that another part of the plan was to help bolster existing local businesses as well as encourage more to open their doors.

Business retention would include outreach and expanding their access to capital, the city acting as a facilitator needed for economic success in the community. Outside businesses would also be informed for how beneficial Rohnert Park would be as a new possible location.

“It’d be great to work with the Small Business Administration,” suggested Councilwoman Gina Belforte. “That’s exactly what they do, so that we are not using our staff resources, but rather we can partner with someone to help out with that.”

“While I’m excited, what I’d actually like to see are some goals,” Belforte later added. “Short-term and long-term goals, so we’re not sort of shooting from the hip. Something measurable.”

Jenkins mentioned reaching out to the growing brewpub market as well as wineries, and suggested one had already expressed interest in moving into the former Latitude’s Restaurant site. As far as city expenses, the only foreseen cost would be marketing for such plans.

“This is just a framework, and it’s a good starting point,” noted Mayor Joseph Callinan. “It’s not about what it will cost, but what the council is willing to spend on it. It’s a great start, and I’d like to go forward with it. The time for doing is now.”

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