City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

October 16, 2012
Councilman Schenirer: City's business climate must improve

Following the closure of two large businesses - and after years of financial instability - Sacramento City Hall is talking about changing its business culture.

Councilman Jay Schenirer today unveiled a list of proposals aimed at improving the city's economic condition. Schenirer was flanked by regional business leaders, three council members, City Manager John Shirey and Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Schenirer's proposal will be folded into a broader five-year economic development strategy to be released by Shirey before the end of the year.

A key part of the plan is to alter the perception that Sacramento is unfriendly toward business.

"We are perceived, and some of it is reality, as being one of the worst places to do business in California," Schenirer said. "That just has to change and we need to send a very strong message out that this city is open for business."

Schenirer's plan comes amid continued economic troubles in the city. Both Campbell Soup and Comcast recently announced plans to close plants in the region and the city's unemployment rate stands above 10 percent.

The foundation of Schenirer's proposal includes examining the city's business regulations, which some criticize for being out of date and too severe. Shirey said some of that work is already underway, including revamping the city's 50-year-old zoning codes.

The councilman also wants to develop neighborhood-based economic development zones that will focus on sparking growth in small areas - including possibly looking at the neighborhood around the soon-to-close Campbell Soup factory in south Sacramento.

Schenirer also wants to develop a more robust marketing strategy for the city.

"We have a great city, but we're not very good at talking about it," he said.

Other parts of the plan include identifying where investments can be made in infrastructure; looking for incentives to attract and retain businesses; working to attract a "creative class" of entrepreneurs; and finding ongoing funding sources to keep the plan afloat.

To assist in the work, Schenirer has enrolled the help of the business school at UC Davis. Five business graduate students will be working for 20 weeks at a time on his proposal, studying what other cities have done to improve their business climates.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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