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At the Business Retention & Expansion International Conference being held in New Orleans, Metro Pulse was given the BR&E Project/Program Impact Award, in part for its high-volume outreach effort.
Over the last three years, Metro Pulse has conducted nearly 5,000 business visits and business walks where economic development and business officials meet directly with owners and managers of retail, commercial, service and manufacturing businesses of all sizes.
In the award citation, Metro Pulse program was recognized for being “truly innovative,” with significant impacts that include follow-up information for each visited businesses; a high level of knowledge mobilization and implementation of successful strategies across local government boundaries; and the new partnerships formed and developed resulting in increased efficiencies, cost reductions, and service increases.
“Metro Pulse is a unique private-public partnership,” said Michael Faust, Sacramento Metro Chamber senior vice president of public policy and economic development while accepting the award on behalf of the program’s strategic partners. “High impact is achieved by bringing together business people and public sector officials. Metro Pulse helps identify and solve business challenges, helps them overcome those challenges, thus contributing to the region’s prosperity.”
As managing partner, the Sacramento Metro Chamber provides support and operations for Metro Pulse’s strategic partners, made up of economic development agencies, organizations and sponsors in the six-county region. They include Applied Development Economics, City of Folsom, City of Lincoln, City of Rancho Cordova, City of Roseville, City of Sacramento, City of West Sacramento, Sacramento County, El Dorado County, Los Rios Community College District, PG&E, Placer County, SETA, SMUD and Yolo County.
“PG&E recognizes the importance of supporting regional efforts such as Metro Pulse, and appreciates the added value it has had on the overall experience of our customers,” said Clay Schmidt, PG&E energy solutions and service manager, Sacramento region.
Among successes counted by program include a Metro Pulse professional discovering that a local metal fabricating company being charged the wrong utility rate, working with the utility to correct the error and identify other cost savings; assisting a printing company with hiring and developing a business plan; informing an equipment company that it was in an enterprise zone and help it qualify for EZ tax credits; and helping a tools company work through the maze of pending permits in an area soon to be annexed.
“The power of Metro Pulse is the face-to-face contact,” Faust said. “Most business owners or managers don’t get the chance to deal with permitting issues or utility concerns in a face-to-face meeting. Metro Pulse solves this challenge—and dilemma—by having the economic development professional walk into their business. That professional then becomes a quarterback for the business.”
Metro Pulse also helped the region quantify the impact on the local economy of the health care and biosciences industry. In 2009, Metro Pulse reported that health care and biosciences industry cluster had a $33.5 billion economic impact in the Sacramento metro area, supporting 240,000 employees whose salaries are 20 percent of the region’s payroll—based upon 2007 statistics.
Organized by the Sacramento Metro Chamber in 2007, Metro Pulse embodies the belief by the chamber that business and public agencies can work together for the good of all. One of the most visible activities of Metro Pulse are the annual Business Walks conducted in neighborhoods, districts, cities and county locales. Volunteer business people teamed up with public sector officials visit businesses to survey business conditions and where improvements can be made. In the last two years, visits have been made to Arden Arcade, Broadway area (city of Sacramento), El Dorado Hills, Power Inn Road area, Placerville, Rancho Cordova Rocklin, Shingle Springs/Cameron Park, West Sacramento and Woodland.
“Business Walks are a valuable benefit to Sacramento County,” said Jim Pardun, a manager in the Department of Economic Development. “The county doesn’t have a business retention program per se, but through Metro Pulse and the Business Walks, we hear directly from businesses about their needs. For instance, we heard that the big shopping areas in Arden Arcade needed expanded sheriff’s patrols during the holidays, so we added the “Grinch Patrol” to reduce thefts, auto burglaries and pan-handling.”
Added Ted Gaebler, city manager for Rancho Cordova, “The city of Rancho Cordova understands that one of the strengths of our community is the diverse and thriving job base. One of the best ways to build relationships and introduce ourselves to the business community is through the Metro Pulse Business Walk model.”
For more information on Metro Pulse, contact Michael Faust at 916-321-9115.
Photo: Business Walk participants visit Edible Arrangements in Arden Arcade during the 2009 event; the next Business Walk in Arden Arcade is Sept. 24. A large, multi-jurisdiction Business Walk in South Placer County will be held Sept. 30. Participants are wanted and can register online here.