The Power of Partnerships

“There’s no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit”.  That was the message on a plaque that hung in my office for a number of years, passed on to me by my friend and mentor as I began my career in economic development over twenty years ago.  While the original quote is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, it has been used by many leaders over the years, including U.S. presidents. 

It makes me think of the working partnerships we have here in Gilroy.  The GEDC, along with the City of Gilroy, Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Center and Downtown Business Association have a long history of collaboration that yields results.  This was recently apparent at a visioning exercise focused on the downtown.  Participants from the above organizations and other downtown stakeholders gathered to refine a vision and identify top priorities for accomplishing revitalization of downtown.  This cross-functional collaboration will be key to success as efforts in business attraction, promotions, safety, infrastructure, hardscape and other goals are tackled. 

The GEDC partners with organizations not only at the local level, but on a regional and state-wide basis.  The GEDC provides leadership to the Central Coast Marketing Team.  Through this association, the GEDC is able to represent the City at tradeshows and other marketing events to recruit new companies to Gilroy.  Another regional group is the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance, which provides a forum for sharing of information and best practices, as well as marketing opportunities. 

At the state level, the GEDC works with Team CA on marketing and business attraction.  Team CA is the lead agency in coordinating the state’s marketing efforts with collaboration from all communities in the state.  The CA Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GoED) is another important partner in our attraction efforts.  Companies seeking a California business location often contact GoED for assistance with searches for business locations.  The GoED staff will work with the company or site location consultant to identify a region that best suits the company’s needs and issue a Request for Information, allowing all communities in the region to respond with sites and community information that addresses important issues pertaining to the property, infrastructure, utilities, workforce availability, and incentives.
 
The GEDC also benefits from the support and collaboration of our private sector partners.  Our organization was created in 1996 through efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and City of Gilroy to address a need in the community – an organization that focused on economic development.  Without this foresight and leadership many of the businesses you see today would not exist.  The GEDC has been instrumental in creating the retail sector that provides our City with sales tax revenues each year as well as many of the jobs in our manufacturing and service industries.  Our private sector partners are an essential part of maintaining this balance with public sector partners. 

The bottom line is this:  we all benefit from a prosperous and productive community, but none of us can do this alone.  It’s all about team work and collaboration; and at the end of the day “there’s no limit to what can be accomplished . . . .”

For more information on the activities of the GEDC and resources to assist your business, contact our office at 408-847-7611 or email president@gilroyedc.org.



Shopping Decisions Support Our Local Economy

It’s that time of year again.  Either you are one of those people that finished their holiday shopping in July or, like me, you wait until the mad rush during the last few shopping days.  Either way, it bodes well for Gilroy businesses with the city being a retail destination within the region.  As you prepare your holiday gift list, we encourage residents to make a conscious decision to shop locally.  Sales tax revenue to the city during this time and throughout the year help fund essential city services.  In fact, Gilroy is a sales tax capture community with well over 100 percent capture rate in major retail sectors.  The city continues to see solid growth in sales tax revenues as evidenced by the most recent sales tax report.  After adjustments, receipts for the City of Gilroy increased by 4.3 percent over the same quarter the previous year.   The largest gains were in the areas of new auto sales and furniture/appliance, indicating consumers have more disposable income and are willing to splurge on big ticket items.    
During this holiday season we encourage you to shop local and support our local businesses.  Holiday shopping accounts for a significant portion of annual revenues for a business.  Following are some important reasons to shop locally:   

  1. It keeps dollars in Gilroy’s economy, supporting vital community services.  For every $10 spent at a Gilroy business, as much as $7 stays in the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.  Spending locally ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested right here in Gilroy.
  2. It creates and keeps local jobs.  Local businesses prefer to hire local.  They create jobs in the community for people of all ages.  Many local businesses are owned by Gilroy residents -your friends and neighbors.   
  3. It nurtures our community.  Our local businesses are committed to investing in Gilroy, donating to charitable causes, actively getting involved in the community and helping to support our schools and local events.   
  4. It helps to keep us unique.  Gilroy’s historic Downtown is comprised of businesses that are diverse and distinctive.  
  5. It helps the environment.  Buying local reduces your carbon footprint.  Rather than driving out of town to shop, think local first.  Chances are we have what you need right here in Gilroy. 
Even if you missed shopping on Small Business Saturday this year, it’s not too late to make your shopping decisions count.  You can make a difference with every local purchase you make this holiday season.  Your patronage positively impacts the local economy, the viability of our downtown, the sustainability of our community and our local businesses.  Please contact the GEDC for assistance with any of your business needs at 408-847-7611 or president@gilroyedc.org.


Targeting Retail


The GEDC is preparing for our busiest time of year as many tradeshows and marketing events are compressed into the next several months.  Up first is the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) annual conference in Monterey on March 9-10.  This conference is heavily attended by West Coast retail tenants, brokers and developers.  The GEDC will have a “deal making table” in the exhibit hall, allowing us the opportunity to talk one-on-one with retailers about opportunities in Gilroy.
 
In preparation for the conference, staff of the GEDC updates our available property information specific to retail attraction, as well as the supporting data on demographics and consumer spending.  It is also important for staff to keep abreast of latest trends and analysis within this business sector.
 
According to a recent study released by ICSC, the Internet and e-commerce provides consumers and retailers with new tools that enhance the shopping experience and ultimately drive sales in stores.  In fact, 94 percent of total retail spending takes place in stores.  Online-only retailers are beginning to establish brick-and-mortar channels to grow their brands.  The U.S. population growth is projected to be more than 2 million people per year between now and 2050, creating more demand for goods and services.  Baby boomers, millennials, and Hispanics provide an opportunity to customize offerings to these influential demographic groups.

Getting into the heads of consumers is an essential exercise for retail marketers, but understanding why they do what they do is a little tougher – not to mention predicting how their behaviors will change.  According to Leslie Ghize, Executive Vice President with TOBE (a consulting firm that specializes in consumer trends) the obsession with millennials is well-founded.  Trends indicate that other generations are adopting many of the same traits of the millennials.  Looking to the future, Ghize suggests retailers should be prepared to see a few of the following shifts in the next year.

  • Passion.  Consumers are very savvy about spotting authenticity among all the noise, and a brand’s purpose and mission makes a difference.  Retailers should pay attention to the atmosphere of social consciousness.  It’s very cool to care right now.
  • Slouch.  We’re so overstimulated that we’re beginning to crave relaxation.  You can see this reflected in concierge-type services that relieve stress in consumers’ lives (shopping, cleaning, and errands).  More people are seeking serenity.
  • Memory.  We are relying more and more on technology to be our memory, and as we do so we will become more willing to appreciate things that don’t need to last (such as a pop-up store that disappears after a few weeks).
  • Uniform.  The sharing economy that’s been emerging (i.e. Uber, Airbnb) will begin leading into a new cool – uniformity.  Customization and feeling special is all the rage in many areas of retail, but for some the one-size-fits-all mentality seems forward-thinking.

In Gilroy, we are fortunate to be a destination for retail within the region.  The City’s most recent report on sales tax revenues (2nd Quarter 2015) indicates a continuing growth trend in retail sales.  Auto sales saw a 27.4 percent gain over the same quarter in 2014.  With sales tax revenue making up a significant portion of the City’s general fund revenue, this is an important business sector to maintain and expand upon.  For more information, please contact the GEDC at president@gilroyedc.org or 408-847-7611.


Education Key to Strong Local Economy


This is a pivotal time for our community.  Gilroy is transitioning from an agricultural community to a business community.  As vacancy for industrial, warehouse, R&D and office space in Silicon Valley becomes less available, companies begin to look for opportunities in South County.    The GEDC has seen an uptick in inquiries for business locations over the past several months, indicative of the strong economy and fewer vacant properties within the region.
  
In order to truly capitalize upon this trend, Gilroy must be able to demonstrate that we have the workforce to meet the needs of business.  Gilroy has an established cluster of businesses that provide jobs in manufacturing and many other sectors, which the GEDC will continue to target for business growth.  We are a great location for companies that distribute goods to the greater Bay Area with excellent transportation access to U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 152.
 
Gilroy’s next hurdle is to establish companies that will employ the many residents that travel outside the city each day for employment.  According to U.S. Census data, approximately 15,000 residents leave Gilroy every day for employment in areas outside of the city, primarily in cities to the north.  Only twenty (20) percent of employed Gilroy residents work in the city.  This is indicative of the job opportunities available in the city as well as the population growth resulting from home buyers seeking a more affordable location.  Opportunities abound for business attraction by further identifying the skill sets of the outbound workforce.
   
While the skill levels of our resident workforce are an asset, we must continue to grow the next generation of workers and provide jobs that continue to build our community.  We are all familiar with the term “brain drain” and the impacts on communities that educate our youth and are unable to provide employment opportunities to retain them as residents.  Gilroy schools, including Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD) and Gavilan Community College, are assets that our community needs to capitalize upon.  As evidenced by the district-wide academic performance, GUSD surpasses other communities in our region under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Debbie Flores.  Gavilan Community College assists the business community and is working with the GEDC to provide training programs for new businesses.  Dr. Steve Kinsella, President of Gavilan College, is a GEDC board member and advocate for workforce training and career development.
 
The organizations that promote Gilroy as a business location, support local business, and promote tourism, realize the necessity of an educated and trained workforce.  Communication between providers of education/training and employers is a necessity.  Educators must know what employers are seeking in employees and be aware of trends in employment growth sectors in order to provide a skilled workforce ready to meet these demands.
 
The Chamber Business and Education Committee is a local initiative that seeks to facilitate this dialog and help prepare Gilroy youth for the workplace.  The committee will host the second “Rock the Mock” event to be held at Christopher High School and Gilroy High School on March 24-25.  The students will participate in a series of workshops that help them prepare for job interviews, followed by a mock interview with volunteers from the Gilroy business community.  The committee is currently recruiting for interviewers for these days, who would need to be available from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm on one or both of these days.  Please contact the GEDC or Chamber of Commerce if you have interest in participating in this important event for Gilroy youth.
 
The GEDC and Gilroy Chamber of Commerce are partners in promoting this discussion and developing programs that meet employer needs.  For more information on this topic or to learn more about GEDC activities, please contact us at 408-847-7611 or email president@gilroyedc.org.  


The Value of Your EDC

To say that economic development is valuable because it brings revenue to the community does not begin to define this activity.  At its heart, economic development is about building a healthy economy in order to have a healthy community.  Following are a few ways in which the GEDC helps the City of Gilroy become and remain a healthy community:

  • Job Development:  Through business attraction, expansion and creation we are able to provide better wages, benefits and advancement opportunities for residents.
  • Increased Tax Base:  The additional revenue created by economic development efforts support, maintain, and improve local infrastructure such as roads, parks, libraries and city services.
  • Business Retention:  Businesses feel appreciated by the community and, in turn, are more likely to stay in Gilroy, contributing to the local economy.
  • Economic Diversification:  A diversified economic base helps expand the local economy and reduces the city’s vulnerability to a single business sector.
  • Productive Use of Property:  Property used for its highest and best use maximizes the value of that property.
  • Quality of Life:  More local tax dollars and jobs raise the economic well being of the entire city, including the overall standard of living for residents.
  • Workforce Development:  By facilitating a dialog between education and business, we are able to ensure that our labor pool has the skills and training required to meet the demands of today’s workforce.
As the GEDC celebrates 19 years of making Gilroy a healthy community, it is important to reflect on how the organization was formed.  In 1996, community leaders from the Chamber of Commerce and the City recognized the need to aggressively promote Gilroy as a great place to do business.  We’ve come a long way and Gilroy is now a retail destination and employment center for the region.  The GEDC can’t take all the credit for our community’s success.  However, we have been instrumental in bringing the right people together and creating the right environment to allow for growth and progress.  
Fast-forward to 2015 and Gilroy is again at a crossroads.  As we transition from a primarily agricultural community to a business community, there will be growing pains along the way.  We need to assure that our workforce does not get left behind and has the skills and training to fill new jobs in non-ag sectors.  Gilroy has been successful in attracting a number of commercial and industrial uses in recent years, primarily because we had “shovel ready” sites ready for development.  Our inventory of available land and buildings is now somewhat reduced due to the success of our business attraction efforts.  Remaining opportunity sites must be preserved and protected for further job creation to occur.  
Gilroy weathered the recession without significant job losses and was ahead of most communities throughout the state in economic recovery.   Gilroy is the wonderful community it is because of the vision and investment made by community leaders beginning in 1996.  Our community leaders must continue to be visionary in order to ensure Gilroy’s economic vitality in the future.  
For more information on activities of the GEDC, please contact us at (408) 847-7611 or email president@gilroyedc.org  


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