South Stockton Business Walk
April 15, 2011
The walk focused on businesses located in the “Little Saigon” area of South Stockton, which runs from Florin Road to Fruitridge Road.
The city’s Economic Development Business Visit Program serves to check on the needs of businesses and to connect them with the proper resources so they can flourish.
Terrence Johnson, the executive director of the Stockton Boulevard Partnership said the focus is to address the issues affecting businesses.
The Little Saigon district is home to many small businesses, particularly Southeast Asian businesses, Mai Nguyen, president of the Greater Sacramento Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce (GSVACC), said.
There are two barriers that the Asian business owners are dealing with: language and culture, these two make it challenging to network, Nguyen said.
“We want to reach out to them and listen to their concerns and needs,” Nguyen said. “We want to break barriers. We don’t want them to feel afraid or to feel like they did something wrong. They are used to inspectors, and/or audits coming in, but this is a refreshing visit. We want to put them at ease and inform them of the resources available.”
The new Pho Saigon Bay restaurant at 6458 Stockton Blvd. was the starting and finishing place for the walk, which went from 10 a.m. – noon.
It is symbolic to have a new business host the event because it is all about promoting business economic growth and retention of businesses, Nguyen said.
Participants dispersed into teams of two with one member being a Vietnamese speaker and another being an English speaker. In total, there were 20 teams, according to Lorrie Lowry, project manager for the city’s Economic Development Department.
Many times the assigned businesses were congregated, it made it simple to walk to the surrounding businesses but at times people drove.
The City sent a letter informing them of the visit in advance.
As each team visited the various businesses, they asked them three questions: How is business? What do you like about doing business in this area? What can city, partner and the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce do to improve business?
They also left each business with a bag filled with various resources. These resources ranged from SMUD rebate programs to California capital (small business loans) information and Sacramento Works, which is an organization that assists with hiring.
About 230 businesses were visited in total, and each team was assigned an average of 14 businesses in the two hours , Lowry said.
Tim Nguyen, owner of Xtreme Tint, Alarm and Sound, said he started his business in 2000.
“I didn’t know of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, but I think this is very informative, and it is nice of them to come out and reach out to local business.”
He told the city visitors that business is tough, the roads in front of the store needs to be fixed and more lights are needed in the streets.
Norm Gentry, owns Norm’s Electric and said he was excited to speak with the representatives.
“It is neat that they got out here,” he said.
“As long as they care and it is not just for show,” Don Gentry, Norm’s son, added.
Stephanie Brians, manager at Security Public Storage was equally pleased.
“It is nice to see someone come in and ask and want to hear from us. Usually, if I have a problem, I have to find a way to contact them or write to them,” Brians said.
She expressed concern for safety, crime reduction, gangs and drugs.
Next month, there will be a seminar coordinated by the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce.
The date, time and location is yet to be discussed, Lowry said.
The information collected after such walks are used to create specific plans that can further aid in enhancing the success of these businesses.
Overall, it is important to get an idea of what is going on so there is direct response, Lowry said.
“The long-term vision is we establish relationships and the businesses now have direct contacts,” Mai Nguyen said.
Last year, the economic development department of the city organized various business walks in the northern and central City.
This is the first business walk of the year and there will be three more. They are scheduled to take place in Florin, Natomas and the third location is still being decided.
For more information, visit www.CityofSacramento.Org website.