The recession hit Gilroy hard. Businesses come and go. Downtown is still in the process of recovery. The outlets employ a huge number of local residents, but homegrown business is still struggling.
Last week, we asked the men and women running for local office for their opinions on the state of local business. There is agreement almost across the board that local businesses need help. Paul Kloecker, however says that businesses aren't doing too badly. See all of the candidates' answers below.
Question: What is your opinion on the state of local business? Do you favor local business over big box stores? What should be done to strengthen local business?
Peter Arellano: Our local businesses have suffered as all businesses have in the recession. Many did not survive and those who did are barely staying afloat. In the past, Gilroy has always given incentives and tax breaks to the big box stores. It is time we look at how we can help our small local businesses, which are most often owned and operated by local residents and staffed by local residents.
Dion Bracco: It’s hard to be in business today. The city should try to make it easier — not harder — for someone wanting to open a business in Gilroy. I certainly favor our local businesses over big box stores, but our economy and our consumers thrive on both. We can really help our local businesses by streamlining the process and working with the applicants to help them with their projects instead of city staff being so rigid and even inconsistent in their interpretation of the rules.
Don Gage: The City of Gilroy needs to support local businesses, as they are finding it very hard to be successful. The outlets are doing much better than other businesses. Gilroy needs local businesses, not more big box stores at this time. However, each has their distinct place in our community, so we provide a balance in our commerce. We need to maximize the potential of local business by improving signage, reducing fees and working with the store owners.
City Council Candidates:
Paul Kloecker: I believe that the state of local business is reasonably good considering the recent severe downturn in the economy. Local business is probably always in a “struggling” mode and not likely to be considered as “thriving” considering the myriad of rising labor/material costs, increasing taxes, more regulation, increasing energy costs, etc. Regarding local over “big box” stores, they are both part of the fabric of present-day business. I would favor the retention of local business wherever possible and resist any effort to significantly increase “big box” to the detriment of local business.
Rebeca Armendariz: I believe in shopping local and supporting local businesses over chain stores and big box stores every time. I think Gilroy is on the right track with programs like “rally around downtown,” the Arts Center, farmers market and the Paseo. I think the City should do whatever it can to support these and similar projects that bring beauty, a sense of community and business.
Terri Aulman: With the slow recovery of the economy and an unemployment rate in Gilroy of 12.4 percent, our small businesses are struggling. Additionally, three initiatives on the November ballot, if passed, would have a significant impact on small business in increased taxes.
I do favor local business over the big box stores. While big box stores provide competitive prices and selection, I appreciate the personal attention I get and the relationships I develop by shopping local small business.
We need to streamline our processes and make it easier for small business to get permits and we need to look at ways to reduce fees and eliminate unnecessary regulations where possible. We need to be sure that Gilroy is competitive in our fee structure and customer service to attract more business to Gilroy. We need jobs. By bringing in more businesses we will provide more local jobs which will increase revenue and help our local economy.
Cat Tucker: Yes, I support local business and we should set up programs to help them succeed. The EDC already gives small business seminars but we can do more such as bring back the Facade Loan Program.
Do you trust the candidates to help local business? Who are you voting for? Tell us in the comments!