RP council gets economic update
Breweries, winery show interest in relocating to RP
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By Mira Brody  July 11, 2014 12:00 am

Rohnert Park’s City Council members at the meeting on Tuesday, July 8, received an update by staff on the progress of the city’s Economic Development Framework, a plan that was approved on March 25.

Presented by Assistant City Manager, Don Schwartz, senior analyst, Bryce Atkins and interim director of Development Services, the framework includes three main activities: business retention and expansion, business attraction and tourism.

“I’m pleased to provide this update to you, it has really been a team effort,” Schwartz assured listeners. “Rohnert Park economic development is a team sport.”

Staff has so far reached out to the Sonoma County Board of Tourism in order to get more Rohnert Park events on their website, alerting those who would otherwise pass by the city to visit. 

They are meeting with hotel brokers to provide visitors with more choices when it comes to overnight accommodations.

They also plan to update the city’s website with a more flattering design, with better pictures of RP venues as well as quotations “representing the city’s virtues” and examples of what Rohnert Park provides to its visitors as well as prospective businesses. Changes to the website could begin in as soon as a few weeks.

“One of the advantages we have is that we’re pretty centrally located in Sonoma County,” said Schwartz. “We also have a variety of entertainment options here.”

They stressed, however, the differences between Rohnert Park and other nearby “tourist” towns, such as Healdsburg, who provide a more “boutique-y” atmosphere with wine shops and high-end clothing stores. Staff hopes to work with Sonoma State’s business students in the near future as well.

“I am particularly happy that we are developing a relationship with these students,” said Councilman Jake Mackenzie. “Whether we hire interns or they’re getting their MBAs, it would be great to have that energy here.”

Staff will continue to review what Rohnert Park has to offer and strategically marketing those assets in order to get more small businesses to open their doors within city limits. The former site of State Farm is open to be used, and there is word of two breweries and a winery are interested in space here.

“We have been a city for 51 years and getting us together to work as a team has been a job 51 years in the making,” said Mayor Joseph Callinan. “I commend the council for making the cuts and doing what we need to do in order to get to this point today. It’s been a long process, but we are definitely headed in the right direction.”

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