New businesses opening in Visalia after changes

FRESNO, Calif.

Visalia officials says they want to make the process of opening up a new business in the city shorter. Potential new retailers can get an answer from the city and a plan on what they need to do within a week.

Friday was the opening celebration of BevMo!'s new Visalia location. The adult beverage store was busy all day after a successful morning.

"We actually had 700 people in line before 9 o'clock this morning, it was crazy," Jill Doe of BevMo! said.

District Manager Jill Doe says its customer base had been wanting a Visalia location to open for some time now. BevMo! Also hired 30 local people to help run the store.

"I think a lot of people don't want to travel the roads I think the gas prices are higher and I think a lot of people want to support the community and shop local," Doe said.

BevMo!'s successful opening could not have happened if the City of Visalia hadn't changed a lot of the zoning along Mooney Boulevard two years ago. The move was one of several ways the city tried to encourage new commercial growth.

The building BevMo! occupies had been vacant for several years. Also new to town is Yogurtland, which opened at the Visalia mall this week. The Visalia Mall says it is at 96 percent capacity.

"Since 2009 when we were in a deficit there's been over a half a million square feet of retail space that was vacant that's been filled," Visalia City Manager Steve Salomon said.

Visalia's downtown has been busy with new, local businesses, too. Charcuterie is one of several eateries filling up the last of downtown's vacancies.

"I would say better quality so now people have a choice to buy better options," Andrea Galdamez of Visalia said.

While sales tax revenue has increased, City Manager Steve Salomon says the city's budget is not in the clear yet. Property values continue to decline and the state budget crisis still looms.

"There's a lot of good signs but we have hovering over us a state with a $10 billion deficit," Salomon said.

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