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Rohnert Park gets early look at business development plan

Linda Babonis

By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rohnert Park’s new economic development director on Tuesday outlined steps to rejuvenate the city’s business climate.

Linda Babonis said her priorities include working to keep businesses in Rohnert Park and helping them to expand, as well as getting new businesses to set up in the city of 41,000.

Babonis said the city has to make up for past efforts that sputtered and left business owners disenchanted.

“We want to start building up credibility with them,” she said after her presentation. “It’s been a long time.”

Councilman Jake Mackenzie, the longest serving councilmember, said it is the council’s responsibility to stay on top of Babonis and her team. “For this to be successful, we’re going to have to have an ongoing dialogue with economic development and it’s got to have ongoing feedback from the businesses,” he said.

The economic development program Babonis described was drawn mostly in broad strokes. But among specific initiatives were attracting fine dining restaurants to the city and working with real estate agents and property owners to market vacant properties to prospective business tenants.

It envisions training programs for businesses that would, among other things, connect them with lending sources and other business support services.

The program — details of which would be developed in the next six months, she said — also calls for pushing public works projects that would create jobs.

Babonis said those might include renovations at community facilities and parks, a sewer trunk line on the city’s west side and extending Dowdell Avenue behind Costco.

Rohnert Park leaders have beaten the drum for economic development for the better part of two years as they dug out from a budget deficit that hit $4.4 million in 2010. Application processes have been streamlined and the city has started programs to help businesses financially.

On Tuesday councilmembers pointed to the opening this month of a new G&C Auto Body store on Commerce Boulevard as a sign of progress.

G&C Auto Body owner Gene Crozat, who has seven stores from Windsor to San Rafael, said the city’s efforts made a difference.

“It made it easy to do business there,” he said. “They’re saying ‘how can we accommodate you.’”





6 Responses to “Rohnert Park gets early look at business development plan”

  1. Just Asking says:

    The first sign of failure is good old Jake Pothole Mackenzie saying he is going to stay on top of something. He claws reach too far into too much county business now, from the smart board to regional transportation to city hall.

    Mackenzie’s on going dialogue with economic development sounds like he has some plans for his pals the developers in Rohnert Park.

    Why don’t they just put him in charge? He has lots of time on his hands and lots of ideas about how to spend tax monies. Oh, that is one of the reasons Rohnert Park is in trouble.

    Well, good luck to Linda and Mackenzie’s plans to bring economic relief to troubled RH.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  2. Social Dis-Ease says:

    ICLEI membership and business development
    … an OXYMORON!

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. Tony says:

    Linda may be a nice lady, but the truth is she is not the brightest lady. I know this from attending past City Council Meetings and listening to her talk. But, this is not a personal attack on Linda. My comment is more focused on why these positions pay so much. $100k salary is ridiculous. $60-$70k is more realistic. Im so sick of the inflated salaries of these folks. They all want to talk about how to save money and generate revenue, but nobody wants to take a look at their own costs as a means to save. I think a way to save some quick money is for ALL government (city/county/state/federal) employees who make $90k and over, need to take a 25-30% pay cut. Including these over-paid cops with there abusive overtime and luxury expenses. That is my rant.

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  4. Jim says:

    These jokers have NO IDEA how to rejuvenate business. It is the government’s involvement that hampers business.

    When will these overpaid, over benefitted, unnecessary government types just go away? The more they make themselves known, the more it is OBVIOUS that they are unnecessary

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  5. Greg Karraker says:

    September 14: Linda Babonis is hired, says priorities are “business retention, business growth, and attracting business.” Deep.

    October 26: “Linda Babonis said her priorities include working to keep businesses in Rohnert Park and helping them to expand, as well as getting new businesses to set up in the city of 41,000.”

    Let me think: Five weeks on the job at $100,000 year = $9,615. Seems like RP could attract business a lot more efficiently by putting her salary into a fund that is dedicated to waiving permit fees.

    But let me be fair. She also thinks it would be swell to attract fine dining and talk to real estate agents. All I can say is OMG, that’s awesome, LOL.

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  6. Graeme Wellington says:

    These are not ideas worth $100,000 plus a year salary. And now that she’s presented the best ideas she’s got, fire her and save paying her any more. Geeze!

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

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