Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal
The La Habra City Council has approved the 6 items recommended by the Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee (EDAHC) on April 22, 2014 and directed the Committee to implement the plan. Since the EDAHC was created at the beginning of the year, the Committee has met multiple times to discuss innovative ideas and implementation strategies that could be pursued to expand and strengthen La Habra’s attractiveness to business investment. Many topics have been covered including gaining a better understanding of who our stakeholders are and how to better communicate with them, identifying weaknesses in our existing processes that we can improve upon, and positioning the City to be business friendly in all respects. The Committee’s Action Plan is as follows:
1. Marketing / Strategy Plan
An Economic Development Strategy will be developed and implemented to attract and retain quality businesses to the City of La Habra that offer employment opportunities for local residents, contribute revenue to support City services, and create economic vitality. The Committee will continue to meet to better understand the region and to identify a strategy plan that attains the goals of the City Council. The Committee will collect and analyze data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of issues regarding economic development. The goal is to create a collaborative marketing and strategy plan that will provide a blueprint on what attracts, or detracts businesses from locating/expanding in the City of La Habra. Data will be derived from customer surveys, conversations with business owners, the Business Visitation Program, and census data.
2. Business Visitation Program
Starting in the month of April, a City team consisting of the Mayor, a member of the Chamber, the Director of Community and Economic Development, and an additional member of Community Development staff will visit businesses to engage them to ascertain how they perceive the City, to let the businesses know the City is interested in their vitality, and to identify any improvements the City can make in how businesses are treated. This data will be used to formulate the Marketing/Strategy Plan above. The goal is to visit eight businesses per month; two in operation from 1 to 5 years, two in operation for 6 to 10 years, two in operation over 11 years, and two top 25 businesses. The Business Visitation Program will help assess what the interests and needs are from the business community perspective.
3. Expediting approval of applications
To better assist businesses, the Committee is requesting that the City Council consider expediting approvals of all applications as a result of the new General Plan, and in general, continue to strive to improve permit streamlining. This will be accomplished through reassessment of the City’s processes for permits and business licenses and would also be considered in the Zoning Code update.
4. Flexibility on administrative decisions
The Committee is requesting that, through the Zoning Code update, City Council consider granting staff the ability to grant more development approvals administratively. If approved, this task will be undertaken during the Zoning Code update.
5. Website improvement
The Committee is recommending that the City have a comprehensive website to link between the City, Chamber, and Collaborative where one can navigate from one site to another without having to use a search engine. The City website will continue to utilize the La Habra Journal and Life in La Habra publication and articles will be placed in the upcoming La Habra Business Journal. Further, the Economic Development Division’s portion of the City website will be broken down into two sections: Business Attraction and Business Retention. The Business Attraction webpage will be designed from the perspective of a new business operator and will contain information he or she would need to establish a business in the City such as business licensing, planning, and building inspections, etc. The second section will provide information to existing business operators wishing to expand their businesses.
City staff and the La Habra Chamber of Commerce’s focus is to help promote business and convey a message that demonstrates support for buying and receiving service from local vendors. The light pole type banners will be displayed along major streets containing a picture or logo of a local business and a small description of the company. The committee has already begun implementing the plan with business visitations by the Mayor, Chamber, key City staff and members of the Committee.
Future issues of the La Habra Business Journal will report the progress of this action plan and that of the committee. Meetings are open to the public with location, times and dates posted on the City and Chamber web sites. www.lahabraca.gov and www.lahabrachamber.com