San Fernando business owners will play a key role in the creation of a six-year economic development plan for the city through a series of discussions with a marketing research firm scheduled to begin this week.
A series of 16 information-gathering sessions that will include about one-fourth of the 590 business owners in the city will begin Thursday and conclude in April, said Scott Schmidt, project manager for the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce.
The marketing research firm Marketing Matrix of Los Angeles will compile information garnered from the meetings in a final report to be released next spring. Recommendations will then be used in a citywide economic development plan.
Of major concern to city officials is how to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, Schmidt said.
"It's all part of the city's image enhancement campaign," he said. "We want businesses to know the city has a good public safety record and that their vision can become reality in San Fernando."
The firm's final report will include steps the city can take to "expand and grow," said Marcia Selz, Marketing Matrix president.
During the discussions with business owners, she said, firm representatives will ask question such as, "What are the two or three biggest barriers to their profitability?" or "How do business leaders see their company growing in the next three or four years?"
The chamber used about $25,000 of a $109,000 city grant to hire the marketing firm. In addition to the discussions with business owners, the grant funding has been earmarked by the chamber for the creation of job-placement programs and an economic development team to assist struggling businesses, and for the distribution of surveys to gauge the optimism of local business leaders.