Reedley's Solution To Fight Economic Disaster

June 7, 2009 4:36:13 PM PDT
Reedley city leaders hope to turn around a disturbing trend.Unemployment has steadily climbed to nearly 30% (29.2%) in April. That's 8,800 people without work. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos shows us what group is getting a make-over to help boost business.

Downtown Reedley. Quiet, quaint and considered by some residents at this local cafe a sleeper city.

"There's that connectedness that you have in a smaller community," said resident Jim Dueck.

But that small town feel is threatening to grow smaller. In February over one thousand employees lost their job at the I.T.O. packing plant. The same thing happened again at the Ballentine plant. These closures and others handed a devastating blow to the local economy and businesses.

Cafe owner Carroll Friend could be the solution city leaders are looking for. Friend was just appointed president of the newly reformed chamber of commerce.

"It should help to fill vacant buildings and bringing economic development to our community and promote business," said Friend.

There are over 40 vacant businesses like this in Reedley. The new chamber hopes to transform empty spaces like that into successful ones like this. City council shut down the former chamber because of financial trouble and inexperienced chamber leaders.

"What other jobs can we bring to this town? How do we continue to have people gain employment in this town," wondered councilmember Steve Rapada.

Rapada will vote Tuesday whether to grant the new chamber a one time payment of $75,000 dollars. That's more than 3 times the amount the chamber receives annually from the city.

Rapada: "We need someone who can go out and do the outreach, you know to promote Reedley, show businesses that Reedley is a good place to bring your business."

The new board will work closely with Reedley's economic development team, host fundraisers and extend a friendly hand to new businesses interested in making Reedley a vibrant financial center in the valley.

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