The City Garners Two Economic Development Awards
The City of Vista was recently recognized for its attraction and support of Craft Breweries & its Business Retention Program. The City of Vista won a California Association of Local Economic Developers (CALED), Award of Merit for spurring economic growth for its support of local craft breweries. The “Gamechanger” Award by CALED identifies an impactful economic development project that proved to be transformational to the community and local economy.
From quaint storefronts to populated business parks, Vista - known as the center of “Hops Highway” - is home to nearly 20 craft breweries, the most per capita in any U.S. city. There’s one brewery for every 7,000 people in Vista. In comparison, there’s one brewery for every 19,000 people in the City of San Diego.
Vista’s plethora of breweries did not happen by accident. For the past decade, city staff have included breweries in their economic development plan, which has paid off in a big way in terms of increased tourism, jobs, and more. Vista’s cluster of breweries - which are spurring more commercial development - also draw a younger crowd and create a more vibrant community where families can plant roots and small businesses can thrive. The breweries also aid with retaining and attracting businesses and talent to Vista and North San Diego County by creating a unique environment when business want to locate and workers want to work.
The City was recognized by CALED for its Vista CARES Program, a business retention and attraction program that includes company visits conducted throughout the year by economic development staff with council members, and a bi-annual volunteer participation event called the Vista CARES Business Walk. Vista CARES "Communicate, Attract, Retain, Expand, and Support" strives to keep businesses from relocating to other cities, helps businesses survive economic difficulties, assists businesses with expansion that create jobs, and helps firms increase their competitiveness. The program first began in 2002 with retention business visits and then expanded into its second phase in 2011 adding bi-annual business walks in partnership with the Vista Chamber of Commerce. From identifying the need for more hotels near the business park to helping breweries export overseas, the program has proven valuable in identifying business needs and standing up new initiatives to support growth.
As part of the business walks downtown and in the business park and monthly company visits, the city is able to hear how companies are doing and see what their needs are, whether it’s reaching out to the State Regional Quality Control Board or the Community Development Department for an easier permitting path for a project.
Both awards were handed out during the CALED 39th Annual Conference during the Celebrating Success Luncheon on March 28, 2019.