Facilitating Business Growth in Tehama County
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
“Business friendly” is a phrase commonly used by economic developers aiming to attract investment. How does one facilitate a business-friendly environment?
It starts with active leadership. Local government officials that support economic development make an effort to listen to business owners and enact policies that streamline rather than complicate the business development process.
“I know being business friendly is certainly a priority for the board of supervisors,” says Bill Goodwin, chief administrator of Tehama County. “We share that philosophy with the City of Corning and the City of Red Bluff.”
Goodwin points out that starting or expanding a business is a complex endeavor that the County aims to simplify. Whether it’s making it easier to pull permits or ensuring various departments like building and planning can work together, the county makes an effort to streamline the development process. “We help people walk through the process and make it as easy as possible,” he explains.
Similarly, Rick Crabtree, city manager of Red Bluff, notes that the city employees work directly with business owners to help them navigate a path forward. “The city is a business friendly place. Per the direction of the city council, city staff works to find a ‘yes’ solution to business issues and proposals. ‘No’ can become a hard stop for business proposals and is avoided where possible,” says Crabtree.
Crabtree notes that there is ample evidence that the local economy is steadily recovering from the Great Recession. “An expanded new Walmart store, a new Ross store, a new Dodge dealership and new downtown businesses are all examples of how the local economy has been thriving,” he says.
Tehama County has stepped up its marketing efforts to elevate its online presence in an effort to attract new people and improve life for those who are already here. A county employee for 15 years, Goodwin says he’s been pleased to see the community diversifying both in terms of the people and types of businesses it’s attracting.
"Tehama County is working actively to expand broadband and begin attracting a diverse range of businesses that will supplement and diversify our current economy that is largely centered in agriculture,” says Goodwin.
Two recently opened businesses report positive experiences. In August 2018, Yesenia Zaragoza opened Vida Juice Bar in Red Bluff. The establishment strives to provide healthy food options for the community, such as juices, smoothies, açaí bowls and more.
Zaragoza was pleased with the interactions she had with officials. "I had a positive experience opening my business in Red Bluff. Tia in the Health Department was great and the expectations were reachable,” she says.
Riley Rose opened Turn the Page Book Loft in Red Bluff in October 2018. The independent book store on Main Street hosts events like poetry night and works to cultivate community.
"I had a very good experience with the city and county while opening my business in Red Bluff. Staff were accommodating and helpful,” says Rose.
Goodwin says a shift with the way some area businesses are operating is helping create a more vibrant downtown atmosphere, which is having ripple effects on the community. “It used to be that the ‘mom and pop’ stores along Main Street closed at 5 p.m. Some of the newer business owners are being innovative, trying new ideas like adding wine and juice bars into their retail establishments. They are staying open later and offering quality wares that draw people in off the freeway,” he says.