- By: Fresno Chamber Vice President/COO, Anna Borgeas
I would like a show of hands…how many people here LOVE Fresno? I mean REALLY LOVE FRESNO?
What do you love about it? Is the sunshine? The arts? The quirky shops? Rivers anyone? I am thinking maybe it’s the people. Maybe the taco joints or shish kebab shops? Anyone in the mood for some Pho? I know, it’s the fruit (Seriously, for me, it’s the fruit.)
Next question: Can you think of one area that proudly, and unabashedly, screams Fresno? If I wanted to show the world Fresno, where would I go?
If I wanted to show the world San Francisco, I would start in Union Square, snake them through Chinatown, stop for some espresso in North Beach(shout out to Café Trieste!) and walk on down to the wharf to see some fat seals and the big red bridge. Sound about right?
Are we San Francisco? No. Do we have fat seals and a big red bridge? No. But we have sunshine, arts, quirkiness, rivers, nice people, international cuisine and the best damn fruit (and nuts and veggies and textiles – don’t want to leave anyone out) in the world.
And I want to show it off. To the world.
“Small things done right over a sustained period of time” is a surefire recipe for success. This axiom is the guiding principle behind the City’s downtown revitalization efforts – an effort that the Chamber continues to champion. Grand ideas and silver bullets need not apply. Downtown revitalization MUST be a concerted and prolonged effort that is, above all, market driven.
Over the last few years, downtown Fresno has seen more private investment and development than it has in decades. Decades. That is huge.
Granville has taken the lead in helping increase the density in the downtown area with the opening of Fulton Village and the 330 North Van Ness Cottages. The Pacific Southwest Building, the Helm Building and the JC Penney Building all have new investors committed to restoring these Fresno landmarks. Restaurants like The Parsley Café, Brick, Richard’s and Fulton Kebab defy odds and opened their doors in one of the worst economies ever. People took the plunge and moved downtown.
These are all examples of small things done right over a sustained period of time.
Revitalization is not like a Monopoly™ board – development doesn’t just pop up with the roll of the dice. As a small business owner, you are constantly evaluating your assets, taking note of your inventory, refining processes and eliminating waste to ensure your organization is operating at optimum based on market demand. And because you do this constantly – – – you expect that same set of principles to be employed in government. (Insert hearty laugh here.)
At least this much is true when it comes to revitalizing downtown Fresno.