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  • Writer's pictureViva


Updated: Oct 6, 2023

In a decisive move to reinvigorate the city’s downtown area, the San Bernardino City Council unanimously approved a $5.7 million budget for economic development additions and improvements on September 12, 2023. The comprehensive plan includes hiring more police for downtown, social service workers, park positions, and creating new roles to support local businesses.

David Friedman, co-owner of Realicore and Viva La Boba, emphasized the importance of supporting local businesses. “For instance, in downtown Redlands on State Street, those small businesses bring in 6X the tax revenue than Mountain Grove and Citrus Plaza Shopping Centers. Small businesses keep our cities alive,” Friedman said. He further highlighted the difference between local and chain businesses, noting, “If you support a local business, that money stays in our community.”

The city’s new initiatives include:

  • A business retention economic development employee who will liaise with small businesses to understand and support their specific needs.

  • A business outreach position to help small businesses expand.

  • Hiring additional police for downtown to enhance safety and cleanliness.

  • Engaging more social service workers and park positions to ensure parks are clean and free from after-hour activities.

  • Hiring two consultants each for federal and state lobbying efforts to bring significant funds for the city.

Friedman also discussed the collaborative approach between the new police hires and social workers. “They’ll work with businesses and residents and identify the unique issues we face downtown. It’s a softer touch, but a proactive approach.”

As discussed at the special meeting, an Economic Development Advisory Ad Hoc Sub-Committee will be brought back for a vote in November 2023. The sub-committee is being strongly suggested to examine significant projects and provide recommendations, which will play a pivotal role in these revitalization efforts. This sub-committee, comprising three members of the City Council, will focus on the downtown core for at most twelve months.

Interim City Manager Charles McNeely shared his vision for the city’s economic development. “We are redoing the business permitting process, making it easy and attractive for businesses to set up here,” McNeely said. He emphasized the importance of proactively recruiting businesses and understanding their needs. “Our businesses are our greatest local ambassadors,” he added.

McNeely concluded by saying, “Also, the council’s unwavering commitment to economic development is commendable. Their vision and dedication are the driving forces behind these transformative initiatives. I wholeheartedly give them kudos for making this happen and aligning resources to realize our shared vision for San Bernardino.”

With the council prioritizing economic development, San Bernardino is poised for a transformative phase, aiming to restore its downtown area to its former prominence and ensure a brighter future for its residents and businesses.

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