As Mayor of the City of Fresno, I’m proud of the role we play supporting Fresno’s local business community by focusing our efforts on growing our local economy.
Thanks to the backing of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, in the past year we’ve passed a number of historic proposals that provided Fresno residents and businesses with a safe and reliable water supply, a blueprint for future investment and development, and a bright new future for the former Granite Park sports complex.
We’re also bringing new energy to Blackstone Avenue. A new owner will bring much-needed renovations to Manchester Center. A number of well-known brand names are coming to Blackstone or have already moved in – names like Walmart, Taco Bell, Krispy Kreme, Hobby Lobby and Dickey’s Barbeque Pit. It’s gratifying to see our efforts take shape.
We will see a number of major projects break ground and start construction soon, again thanks to the support of the Chamber. Bus Rapid Transit, our Recharge Fresno water infrastructure project, High Speed Rail and our Fulton Mall Reconstruction Project, will all see significant activity in the coming weeks and months.
Our Business Friendly Fresno initiative continues to streamline our development process by working together with the business community to “get to yes.” We’ve increased completion rates for every phase of planning and development, and in just the first six months of 2015, we have already doubled the number of applications submitted last year. Best of all, we reduced the average wait time at the counter for Business Friendly Fresno customers to less than 15 minutes.
And we continue to enjoy considerable success with the Fresno Food Expo, a regional food show that allows locally owned and headquartered food producers and growers to exhibit their products to local, regional, national and international food buyers.
Fresno is humming with ArtHops, Creative Fresno, Bitwise Industries, Fulton 55, and the FresYES Fest that brought thousands downtown earlier this month. We’ve seen increasing numbers of young professionals who chose to move to Fresno from all over the nation simply because they’re sold on our downtown and its promise. It’s a story that is now getting national attention.
The Atlantic Magazine ran a series called “American Futures” that highlighted the comeback of downtown Fresno. The author, James Fallows, is a strong believer in the connection between the condition of a city’s downtown and the overall state of that city’s economy and culture. He says:
“Fresno occupies an interesting position. To outsiders, it looks as if the downtown is still in tough shape. To the people working on its recovery, the big, important decisions about moving forward have been made, and the payoff is about to appear.”
I couldn’t agree more. And none of this would be possible without the support of the Fresno Chamber and its members. Thank you for your continued commitment to provide a great environment for our local business community to grow and thrive.
Ashley Swearengin, Mayor