A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a volunteer. She asked me if I had any concerns or comments about what is happening in Castro Valley. I have several but I chose to tell her about my biggest concern.
Before I let the cat out, I must state that this concern stems from my observation from a position of ignorance. I think I see what I see but most of my infintely small collection of information comes from just looking around and having lived here for a few years.
The concern that I voiced was that, in all my experiences in Castro Valley, I have never seen or heard of an organization or mechanism to specifically bring new businesses into Castro Valley. The closest we had was the Economic Development person from the Redelopment Agency, but that is gone now.
The Chamber admits that they are not active in this area for various reasons and we don't have a very much-needed, well-organized merchants association, consequently we get whatever businesses that seem to drift into our business locations.
We certainly have space available. Just look at the Patch "What should go here?" queries. What we really need is an outreach organization that at least explores the area to see what businesses may want to relocate. Naively, I always thought that was a function of the Chamber of Commerce in any area but apparently that is not always the case. Granted, all this takes some time, maybe some money, and the people to do it.
So it's back to my point about needing a Merchants' Association. Keeping in mind that all boats float on the same tide, increasing business establishments here would benefit the existing merchants more than anyone else (except the customers). It seems to me that it is way past time for some action in this area. It appears to me that the time has come now.
Secondarily, since the County is not always pro-business, such an organization would give the merchants a strong, organized voice instead of them having to deal with the County individually as they do now.
Now, the first two things that I am going to hear is: (1) I don't have enough knowledge to be pushing this kind of program and (2) if I think it's so wonderful, why don't I organize it. As to (1), I admitted to this going in. Read the second paragraph. And (2) I think that this type of program would have to be organized from within, by the merchants themselves. That immediately makes me a total outsider, which is not a good position from which to accomplish such a valuable task. Also I am not now, nor have I ever been, a businessman so I would have very little expertise to offer. I simply think that there is a huge need here.
So that's it! As I said, I think I see what I see and that has been partially validated in conversations with various local merchants. As with everything that I write, while I may not offer the best solutions, I always hope that I can start some people thinking so the mission can be accomplished.