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Where is Castro Valley's Organization to Bring in New Business?

Castro Valley has nothing in place to bring in new businesses

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rachel Bradley-Gomez May 11, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Couldn't agree with you more, Ken.
David Ashton May 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
This sounds like a function of city government, not merely a merchants association. Oh wait, we aren't incorporated.
Rachel Bradley-Gomez May 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
However, wouldn't incorporation assuage this issue and begin to tackle a vast array of others that Castro Valley faces? Your post above exemplifies exactly why residents should be in favor of real input in the form of a municipality.
Rachel Bradley-Gomez May 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Well said, my friend.
Ken Martin May 11, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Yes, an incorporated city might cover this function. But, then it might not if it couldn't afford it which would probably be the situation in Castro Valley. But you are missing my point. I am talking about using what resources we may have available here and now. Never mind what could be IF we were a city. I'm not going to debate incorporation here. So let's keep on the subject on what we might be able to do with what we have on hand. Please offer some positive ideas instead of offering conjecture about what a city could do. That is irrelevant to the subject.
Bob Swanson May 11, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Hi Folks, Bill Lambert, Redevelopments’ economic development person is still with redevelopments successor agency. He is still working with the Chamber and has been working to help merchants start a merchant Association. He is still doing outreach to bring in businesses to Castro Valley. Any merchant wanting to start an association should email Bill at: Bill.Lambert@acgov.org Bob Swanson
David Ross May 11, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Isn't the purpose of a Chamber of Commerce to encourage business? I know they encourage already established businesses. Shouldn't they be trying to get new businesses also? I don't trust the redevelopment organization to develop a merchants' association, especially the one in Castro Valley that has totally screwed up. Yesterday it took me 10 minutes to go from Grove/Redwood to Safeway! That's normally a 3-4 minutes trip!
Ken Martin May 11, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Thanks for your input, Bob. I think the problem here may be one of visibility. Certainly Bill Lambert's efforts are valuable but they are not publicized. Perhaps if they were better know it would encourage other people, like merchants, to join in. By doing so, this could become a greater effort that would benefit the community as a whole. Until I broached the subject, I don't recall reading about any such local effort or movement on Patch, in the Forum, or in the Daily Review. As I stated earlier, I personally don't have enough business experience to be of any great value but I can help get the word out and make people aware of this need. I will contact Bill Lambert to discuss this.
Rachel Bradley-Gomez May 11, 2012 at 06:17 PM
So in other words, Ken, if a proposed relevant solution isn't to *your* liking, it shall be deemed negative, off topic, and fantastical? Silly me! I just keep pushing the envelope with these crazy, radical ideas of mine. Besides, why establish a municipality now that you have demonstrated how a single soap box can be such a powerful tool for effecting large scale change.
Ken Martin May 11, 2012 at 06:29 PM
David: you obviously didn't read my blog very thoroughly or you would have seen my comment about the Chamber. I have spoken to several members of the Chamber (of which I am one) on this subject and always get the same answer - no money. That is why I am suggesting a different route, one that would involve the beneficiaries themselves. Also, in denigrating the redevelopment agency you are, in a sense, equating the boulevard mess with a totally different subject - the organization of a viable organization to procure business for Castro Valley. Please understand that I am not excusing the Chamber. I think that they should be in the forefront of business acquisition but, unfortunately, they are not.
Keith Barros May 11, 2012 at 06:43 PM
What is redevelopement's successor agency?
Keith Barros May 11, 2012 at 06:52 PM
What is the annual budget of the Chamber of Commerce and what are they accomplishing with the money?
Analisa Harangozo (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 07:08 PM
In regards to the redevelopment's successor agency, here is the latest article we published on this. The members were recently finalized this month and we do plan on following up with this: http://castrovalley.patch.com/articles/county-to-be-successor-of-redevelopment-agency
Heather Mellon May 11, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I think that something non-business owners can do (like Ken and myself) is prove that residents will support Castro Valley businesses. We need to show that we can keep Castro Valley businesses open by shopping locally. Let me follow that up with a shameless Cash Mob plug - even if you aren't interested in buying something from the featured Cash Mob business, just come to show your support! Hold a sign. Meet another CV resident. Have fun! The next Cash Mob will be in June (blog post to come soon).
Jim M May 12, 2012 at 04:35 AM
You need a BID. I left a whole paragraph about it in the comments section of the article R.I.P. JD's, Hello Digger's!
Ken Martin May 12, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Yes, we do, Jim. And badly! That was the whole point of my blog. Call it a Business Improvement District, Merchant's Association, Chamber of Commerce, or Economic Development, or whatever, we need SOMETHING!
Ken Martin May 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Rachel, what are you talking about? This stuff doesn't even make sense.
Analisa Harangozo (Editor) May 14, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Bob, thanks for sharing Bill's info on here. It is part of his job to attract new business to Castro Valley, Ken. Feel free to contact him about this.

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