Candidates discuss how to attract new business to City

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On November 8, Canyon Lake citizens will decide the fates of three City Council seats set to change occupants in December. The five candidates running for City Council are Jordan Ehrenkranz, David Eilers, Larry Greene, George Middle and Randy Bonner.

All Canyon Lake citizens registered to vote are eligible to vote for candidates to fill the three available seats.

In The Friday Flyer’s weekly Q&A series that began on September 23, residents have had the chance to learn how much the City Council candidates understand the City’s current and future challenges, what each candidate hopes to accomplish if elected to serve a four-year term on City Council and where they stand on fire safety, BLM land development and disincorporation.

In this week’s Q&A, The Friday Flyer asked candidates how they propose to attract new business to the City for offices and stores in the Eastport Center and Towne Center without expecting the local businesses and Merchants Owners Association to expend their resources.

Last week, candidates were listed in alphabetical order according to their first names. This week, candidates are listed in the order their names appear on the ballot.

Question

In 400 or fewer words, please explain how you propose to attract new businesses to the City for offices and stores in the Eastport Center and the Towne Center without expecting the local businesses and Merchants Owners Association to expend their resources to support your vision?

Jordan Ehrenkranz

cand1-3These two centers were built many years ago and were very convenient for the local residents to shop and do business because there was nothing else available. Over the years, the area around us has grown and our centers do not offer all the amenities that the residents require.

The centers have become more service-type businesses rather than retail, tax-producing businesses. There are multiple owners of the buildings and there is no consensus as to future development.

I have been involved with the Merchants Owners Association and the Chamber of Commerce for the last 14 years to see what we can do to improve business and we discuss this often. Yet the answer is almost always the same: the cost to remodel exceeds the return on investment.

We need to encourage all residents to shop as much as possible in Eastport and the Towne Center and perhaps this would demonstrate to the business and property owners that this is the place to do business. And maybe, one by one, businesses will expand and the willingness of the property owners to remodel will follow.

The City needs to demonstrate to all the businesses that their welfare is the biggest concern of the City. The City needs to create a friendly atmosphere and make every experience a pleasant one. This was not always the case in the past.

The economy is still a major concern to all of us. A thriving retail sector offers multiple economic benefits, such as greater sales tax revenue, additional jobs and an improved quality of life. I believe that the following will help our community, and I intend to be involved in all of them.

  • We need increased retail development.
  • Target retailers uniquely suited for our community.
  • Identify sites in our community that offer the greatest potential.
  • Pinpoint opportunities for local business expansions.
  • Market our community using the information retailers need.
  • Establish credibility with retail decision-makers.

Please patronize our shopping centers.

David Eilers

cand1-1The City must be business friendly by doing whatever it takes to make it easier to get permits processed. We need to be able to cut through all the red tape more efficiently. I believe the City of Canyon Lake has had a reputation of being difficult to work with. We need to change this viewpoint by letting everyone know that we want new businesses to succeed.

To attract new business at Eastport and the Towne Center, the City needs to be a stronger supporter of our business community. The City is not in the financial shape to help new businesses monetarily in any way. Canyon Lake is in the black for the first time in many years and it must continue to build up reserves.

The Chamber of Commerce and Merchants Owners Association should come together and hire an independent marketing company to develop some ideas to assist the owners in building their businesses. There should be better signage on Railroad Canyon Rd. for all the owners to advertise their business name so that everyone driving by can see all that’s available in the Towne Center. There is now signage at Eastport that should help the businesses there, especially after Audie Murphy Ranch is completed.

The bottom line is that all the City of Canyon Lake can do is to be supportive and business friendly.

Larry Greene

cand1-4First, we should develop a coalition of existing businesses, City officials and other stake-holders (which could include a survey of what the residents would deem needed) to create a strategic master plan on how to improve and attract new business to our shopping centers. The current signage is non-existent, except for the Pepe’s sign.

We must make the City’s permitting process for new and existing businesses as streamlined and user-friendly as possible. A business directory should be at each entrance of Towne Center. We need to develop a theme/image that will attract the attention of traffic on Railroad Canyon Rd.

Our current business model is focused on providing services and some retail. The  Center produces very little sales tax. The addition of more one of a kind specialty shops and restaurants may be part of the solution to attract new customers and businesses.

I am eager to see how this process unfolds, and will remain open to suggestions from all concerned. For suggestions and questions, feel free to message me; I can be found on Facebook at Larry Greene for City Council 2016.

George Middle

cand1-2Starting with referrals for Canyon Lake businesses, I would promote local businesses joining a referral organization. As a member of one, I recommend Trusted Business Partners (TBP) that meets at Pepe’s and has 10 Canyon Lake businesses. There are more than 150 business members meeting in all the local cities. A member of one club can visit all others and request members to make referrals for their product or services.

Joining a TBP club gives access to the five major Chamber of Commerce clubs (COC) in the vicinity of Canyon of Lake City. As a member of Canyon COC, local businesses can demonstrate/explain their businesses by attending the monthly luncheons, hosting a ribbon-cutting or putting on an open house/mixer evening. This is a low cost method of advertising that invites the public to attend.

I have been vice-president of Menifee COC and know firsthand the detail work that is put in by a Chamber to encourage getting the names of its member’s business lists out into the markets.

As a business broker, business appraiser and currently owner of my own business, and having developed several successful startup medical companies, I could have the City put on business management meetings where I will offer free discussions and advice on how to promote their business. I know speakers who would be willing to give up time and deliver their knowledge to help promote business efficiency. The City could find ways to promote these seminars?

The City has a responsibility for legal signage, shape and size when advertising the City businesses. One suggestion would be a large permanent directory with the names, addresses, services and/or products of City businesses situated in an easily located location, and make sure businesses have clear signage over their “entrances” so that their business name is visible.

The entrances into the Towne Center need to be attractive and give the impression of “high quality businesses” beyond these entrances.

Comments have been made to me that the City needs to be more “friendly” to local business activity; i.e., the Oktoberfest had “obstacles” put in place that had to be overcome.

Finally, I would be inviting conversations that allow business owners to freely offer advice and suggestions on what they would like the City to do to help promote local businesses.

Randy Bonner

cand1-5This question is more complicated than the four previous questions to respond. The facilities/buildings of the Towne and Eastport Centers have been laid out to accommodate a high percentage of service businesses (boutiques, beauty salons, attorneys, etc.) which make it unique and highly successful.

I have witnessed the challenges of running a small business. While growing up as a young man with my parents, our family owned a Dairy Queen, a United Rental store and a donut shop. Bonner’s Donut Shop was located in Santa Maria, California for over 20 years. I know that small businesses are the backbone of our nation.

In the past, I moderated a Roundtable meeting for more than two years, including representation from the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Merchants Owners Association, prominent Towne Center owners, plus the POA (General Manager, President), a City Council member and City Manager. This group also included an executive with 40 years of IBM Sales and Marketing experience, and another who is a proven developer of market centers.

Our goal was to provide a positive shopping experience for our City and neighboring communities. Unfortunately, the Roundtable was cancelled after the most recent election. The City Economic and Development Committee has not met for the last two years. If elected on November 8th, essential timely communications will return.

Several suggestions at the Roundtables were discussed, well thought out, and given proper consideration. The bottom line was that we must support long time current and new small businesses tenants in the Towne Center and Eastport Center. Some solutions were as simple as better/consistent business signs, a map which clearly identifies the location of the small businesses, and improving the timing and cost of small business licenses.

The Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce should have joint meetings with the Chamber of Commerces from Lake Elsinore, Menifee and Wildomar to find out about their success with “small business mixers,” and other programs that result in additional new business.

Sue and I have been a member of the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce for several years. I was asked by the current president of the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce to be a volunteer ambassador to small businesses based on my Canyon Lake Property Owners Association (POA), City Council and personal small business experiences.

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