MAYOR’S LETTER s 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.
We have made a great number of improvements and accomplishments, thanks to the support of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. The most notable is the Business Friendly Fresno initiative launched last October with the singular mission to turn Fresno into one of the most businessfriendly cities in the nation. Since July, we’ve already seen over 20 business projects fast-tracked and approved literally within hours or days after coming to City Hall. While work still remains to be done, we’re excited to see growth and opportunity after years of frustration and stagnation. Another idea the City adopted was an ordinance that provides local small businesses with additional contract opportunities related to city purchasing. We also recently incentivized local business expansion through an Enhanced Economic Development Rate, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission with the help of PG&E. This rate provides a 30% reduction in the total power costs of eligible businesses for up to five years if they add jobs, or just keep the ones they’ve got, in our community.
Earlier this year, the City added another local incentive by approving a fee waiver for industrial businesses that add jobs to our local economy. As we’ve discovered over the past few years, Fresno wins when we think local. That’s why the new Fresno Presidents’ Council, a cadre of our top local institutional employers, has pledged to draw from local resources and leverage their institutional purchasing power to buy goods and services from local businesses instead of vendors from outside the area. Our most noteworthy success has been the amazing growth of 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. This one-day event enjoyed a record turnout this July as 126 local companies pitched their products to over 700 buyers from 287 companies from around the world, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Amazon, SaveMart and Vons. Over half of the buyers who attended said they would be reaching out to at least one exhibitor they met at the event to purchase product. The increased interest in Fresno area goods has also resulted in a record number of exports – more than $3 billion in agriculture and processed foods from Fresno County in 2013, a 17% increase over the previous year. We are proving that innovation and expansion, through programs and events like the Fresno Food Expo, are bringing the world to Fresno. None of this would be possible without the continued 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.
Sincerely, Ashley Swearengin, Mayor