Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with some of Riverside’s finest business leaders at Good Morning Riverside hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce; here is a recap of my remarks:
It’s been a short six months since I was named as the City Manager and I’m excited to provide an update on the City of Riverside, focusing on the areas City Managers across the state are reviewing as well- Redevelopment, Economic Development, and Budgets.
Regarding Redevelopment, despite the State’s best efforts to prohibit our accomplishments, we are fighting for our City’s projects with enforceable obligations and finding alternative ways to pay for other projects and services. Our work with Sacramento has reduced the amount removed from our Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule down from $150 million to just over $30 million, and our goal is to further reduce that number to zero.
I quickly moved on to my new favorite subject – Economic Development. I tell every employee that their job is economic development whether they are picking up trash, approving site plans or meeting with brokers. We understand as a community that every public service, every quality of life amenity starts with a healthy business environment. We have already experienced many economic development successes including a new economic development website, an approved action plan, a Business First program and a weekly radio show. I also mentioned that during the current fiscal year (2011/12), we have worked with companies to create more than 1100 jobs and 600 more are in the pipeline. Here are a few of the businesses and job numbers noted: Crystal Pacific Window and Door Systems opened with 20 new jobs; Elephant Thai opened downtown with 10 new jobs; Royal Interpak opened, creating 75 new jobs; Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park opened, creating 80 new jobs; Red Robin will be opening soon at Tyler Galleria bringing 90 new jobs; and, UCPath Center opens July 2013 and will create 600 new jobs by 2014. It’s motivating to see this kind of positive economic growth in Riverside and points towards a continued future of even greater success. We are a business-friendly community and we want everyone to know it.
Regarding our budget, I advised the attendees at the meeting that the Council was poised to adopt a balanced budget, with a provision to use approximately $1 million of reserve to close a small gap between revenues and expenditures in the General Fund (GF). Overall, we project to continue to have a General Fund Reserve well above the 15% of GF expenditures that the Government Finance Officers Association recommends. Overall, we are fortunate to find our city in this financial position, especially when you consider the State and Federal government’s budgets.
It was my pleasure to speak with our business leaders at the Chamber, and I really appreciated the warm support I received from them.