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Transforming Our Commercial Corridors: Franklin Boulevard

SACRAMENTO – August 1st, 2018 marked a new chapter for the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (SACC). In partnership with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SHCC), the SACC hosted their first ever “Transforming Our Commercial Corridors”, inaugurating a series of conferences that will focus on revitalizing the once vibrant, small business friendly Franklin Boulevard Business District. While only five miles from the city center, Franklin Boulevard has seen scarcity in foot traffic and tourism, not due to poor culture or safety, but lack of attention from local government and lack of motivation from the local community. With the help of business leaders, local politicians, and an expert in urban planning, the SACC, SACOG, and SHCC proposed a framework and perspective to our 110 guests in an effort to catalyze the public interest in “building on the story” of Franklin Boulevard.
 

Our morning began with a press conference by Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announcing their new “uber-esque” public transit across the corridor. By making public transit on-call, SacRT hopes to ease the lives of workers, reduce congestion, and increase foot traffic along the corridor. After this announcement, guests filed into the Capital Commerce Center, formerly the Campbell’s Soup Factory, for a breakfast catered by Franklin Boulevard gem and cultural hub, La Esperanza. Pat Fong Kushida, President and CEO of the SACC, welcomed the room with anecdotes of her upbringing along the Franklin Corridor and invited Congresswoman Doris Matsui to give welcome remarks.

“As regions grow, as cities grow, we tend to forget that we need to revitalize as we move forward in other parts of the region. There are important people here, long-time residents and longtime businesses that have been crying out that there be some attention…Now we need to find new and intentional ways to invest in this area,”

congress woman doris matsui“As regions grow, as cities grow, we tend to forget that we need to revitalize as we move forward in other parts of the region. There are important people here, long-time residents and longtime businesses that have been crying out that there be some attention…Now we need to find new and intentional ways to invest in this area,” said Matsui, speaking of the area with a nostalgic charm, inspiring the room to a loud applause at the end of her address. The Congresswoman then introduced Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, Welcome Speaker, who dove into the roots of Franklin Boulevard and his vision.

Patrick Kennedy segued the conversation to our third-party speaker, a non-Sacramentan with fresh eyes to analyze the possibilities of this corridor, Michele Reeves of Civilis Consultants, a powerhouse of urban strategic planning. Michele broke down the challenges the corridor faces into the definition of improvement, the types of corridors, and intentionality. She cautioned against completely removing the story of the area, and advocated for “building on the story” of Franklin Boulevard. She took this theme into the panel discussion with Gina Lujan, Founder/CEO of Hacker Lab; Supervisor Susan Peters, Sacramento County Supervisor District 3; Rachel Rios, Executive Director, La Familia Counseling Center and Maple Neighborhood Center; Councilmember Jay Schenirer, City of Sacramento District 5; Nathan Ulsh, Executive Director of Franklin Blvd Business Association and Historic Monterey Trail District. She purposefully did not allow the panelists to read the questions prior to the event in order to elicit genuine responses and encourage innovation rather than promotion. 
 

The panel discussed existing projects, pending initiatives, and the highs and lows of the corridor while Michele Reeves identified aspects of their answers that can be utilized to further economic development projects in the area. This led a perfect segway into SACC’s announcement with Keri Thomas, Vice President of External Affairs at Sutter Health and Dr. Jeff Mrizek, Dean of Effective Practices at California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office/Workforce and Economic Development, about their partnership on a new workforce development program that will directly impact this corridor. But in true “Pat Fong Kushida” fashion, the President of the SACC had one more announcement – the formation of the Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative in partnership with the SHCC, Franklin Boulevard Business District, Hacker Lab, and Mack Road Partnership.

“The Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative is all about leveraging resources and strengthening partnerships. We know that we are better together, and if we can harness the talent of many organizations who are dedicated and focused on building capacity for ethnically diverse small businesses that reside on our aging corridors, we know that we can grow these businesses, the lifeblood of these corridors exponentially!”

After the event, when asked to describe the impact she hopes this collaborative will bring, Pat Fong Kushida stated, “The Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative is all about leveraging resources and commercial corridors sacramentostrengthening partnerships. We know that we are better together, and if we can harness the talent of many organizations who are dedicated and focused on building capacity for ethnically diverse small businesses that reside on our aging corridors, we know that we can grow these businesses, the lifeblood of these corridors exponentially!”

Mayor Darrell Steinberg followed Kushida’s address, with an inspiring speech on the potential of Sacramento and how taxation may be the route to economic prosperity in all of our neighborhoods. He sent out a tweet regarding the event stating, “Economic development can’t be just about downtown. It has to extend to all of our neighborhoods and all of our commercial corridors. We have great leadership in our neighborhoods. We need funding capacity”.
 
All in all, this event was a large success. Not only did the SACC fill every seat in the house, nearly half the people in these seats signed up to join the Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative. 
 
In the words of Councilmember Jay Schenirer, “[Vision] has to come up from the community,” and yesterday, we saw some of that vision come to life.

See pictures from the event here.

 

Thank you again to our sponsors, Paul Blanco’s Good Car Company, Sacramento Regional Transit District, SMUD,  UC Davis/UC Davis Health System, and Urban Land Institute, for supporting our endeavor.

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