Tuesday Jan 06 2009
Auburn to host Economic Summit
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
Goal is to brainstorm, write a strategy for recovery and success
Auburn needs a written economic strategy, a plan, according to Mayor Mike Holmes. Holmes and members of the Auburn City Council will host an “Economic Summit” at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13 at City Hall in order to create a plan to improve Auburn’s economy. “My goal is to try to develop a comprehensive strategy, not just because of our current economy,” Holmes said. “It’s something we’ve needed for some time. We need a plan in writing on how we want to develop the city economically.” The core effort will be based around the Economic Development Commission, Holmes said. He wants areas such as retail, wholesale, tourism, light industry, professional services, banking and others to be included. The City Council has already approved funding of a Streetscape Project that would help beautify Downtown Auburn and connect it with historical Old Town. However, Jim Brill, owner of the Monkey Cat restaurant, and others believe there’s got to be a way to get visitors to spend more time in Auburn. “We need to be more-tourism driven, so Auburn is not just a drive-through town,” Brill said Tuesday. “I think Streetscape will add to that but it’s not the full answer.” Brill has been in town four years and sees housing as a crucial issue. “Housing here has been the driving force of this economy,” Brill said. “We don’t have the big industry, banking or tech firms that Roseville has.” The Monkey Cat restaurant did a brisk business over the holidays, “but that was a Band-Aid on the bleeding,” Brill said about local economic conditions. The Streetscape Project was mentioned by Holmes as a force to help persuade visitors to spend more time in Auburn. The new Hampton Inn, to be built near the Russell Road exit on Interstate 80 and within city limits, will provide added rooms, Holmes said. One way to help fill those rooms might be extending the city limits to reach the American River and developing it as a recreation area. “We’re looking to annex a city area down to the river limits,” Holmes said. “We’re in discussions with the Bureau of Reclamation to do that.” If that happened, the city could possibly develop the river area as a site for rafters, kayakers, hikers, campers, bird watchers and others. “We need to establish Auburn as a destination for people who come from out of town,” Holmes said. “We need some kind of strategy to encourage visitors to come and stay awhile.” The historical aspect of Old Town could be better promoted as well. “How can we promote the history of Auburn and how can that contribute to further economic development of the community?” Holmes said, when asked what might bring folks to Auburn. So far, Holmes has issued a general invitation to those who want to contribute to the 4 p.m. “Economic Summit” at City Hall. “I’ve talked to the Placer Arts organization, folks from the tourist center, Auburn Chamber of Commerce and I’ve gotten commitments from individuals in the chamber,” Holmes said. Holmes plans to be the moderator to start the summit and then “we’ll see where it goes from there,” he said. “I don’t expect an overnight miracle, but this is something we need to do for the long-term,” Holmes said. The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.