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Valley Focus | San Fernando

6-Year Plan for Fiscal Growth Is Revealed

January 10, 1998|DARRELL SATZMAN

Aiming to transform this small city into an economic force in the Valley and beyond, the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce this week unveiled an ambitious six-year economic development plan.

An outline of the plan, titled "Our Mission Is Prosperity: An Economic Strategy for the Greater San Fernando Area," was released in a slick brochure at a special chamber meeting Wednesday.

More than two years in the making, the multifaceted plan includes an economic development team to assist struggling businesses and attract new ones, job-placement and business-retention programs, yearly surveys and focus groups and a concerted effort to forge a positive identity for the northeast Valley, officials said.

"The purpose of this plan is to focus during the next six years on the things we need to do to make this an economically viable community," said chamber chairman Paul Hefner.

After the earthquake, Hefner said, there was "a recognition that unless someone steps forward and tries to lead the process, the work will not be focused and we will have a lot of problems."

Financial support for the plan, which was written by chamber and city officials and local business owners, came in the form of a $109,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development Administration, officials said.

An important component of the plan involves attracting new restaurants and shops to the city's historic downtown area, which features a tree-lined outdoor mall. To do that, Hefner said, the city must work to reverse negative perceptions of the northeast Valley and establish its own unique identity.

"Let's not try to be Santa Monica. We're not on the beach, that's never going to work," Hefner said. "Unless San Fernando finds a way to uniquely identify itself with the marketplace, it's going to have to continue to slug it out with other malls and other communities."

Cathy Maguire, a district manager for the Southern California Gas Co. and past president of the chamber, said that reaction to the plan has been positive.

"People see that there are really exciting opportunities in San Fernando, and we are taking the steps to make it happen."

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