Mayor Mark Wier issued a challenge to the Economic Development Commission at its March meeting asking them to "put together a strategic plan" that the business community would buy into and help improve the economic situation in Mesquite.
At the Commission's monthly meeting, Apr. 4, Anne Miranda, Executive Director of the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce, and Natalie Hafen, representing the local real estate industry, co-spokespersons for the committee, presented a 24-month plan that "builds on the resources we already have."
Miranda described the plan as "divided into two parts; developing the local economic conditions and bringing tourism here. Building on the resources we have is critical. A 24-month plan doesn't let us build or bring something new to town. What do we have in town that we can build on."
She listed existing sports fields, the College of Southern Nevada, the Mesquite Resort Association and casinos, the Chamber, and Mesquite Real Estate Association as resources that currently exist and could be used as a base to "get other businesses involved in these resources."
"We have to build on what we have right now," Hafen added. "Not what's going to be here in the future, or what we could have had, should have had, would have had, or maybe will have. We have to look at what's going on right now."
"Right now we have sports. If we can get the sports teams to utilize our businesses and our businesses to utilize them, that will help," she explained. "When people call in to reserve the ball fields, we need the person taking the reservations to ask them if they want vendors there. The businesses are going to have to say 'okay, we want to be there; we want to help.'"
Hafen added that just having businesses put signs in their front windows welcoming the sports teams could help make them feel more welcome and draw people into the stores. "Businesses need to be prepared and welcome them."
"We need people to come in and utilize the town and not just the sports facilities," Hafen remarked. "Our events right now are oriented around sports. They just bring in a baseball player but no family. We have to get something that is going to draw people in."
"We also need a brand for Mesquite. We've branded ourselves five or six times," she explained, describing past mottos the City adopted like 'Diamond in the Desert' and 'Come for a Day, Stay for a Lifetime.' "We need to come up with something we will always use, not something we'll change in two years. We need something people will always remember.
Something that everybody sticks with."
Hafen reminded the group that the Chamber is structured primarily for its paying membership. "The Chamber is there to help, but it's oriented around its members. If the Chamber helps organize and drive some of this, it will benefit the members and maybe increase membership in the Chamber."
Miranda explained that the Chamber conducted two focus groups last year, one oriented towards medical-related businesses, and one for businesses in general. "The medical group grew their legs and is now the Healthcare Coalition. They are building something really great that will help their businesses."
"What we got out of the business-related group was that we need more information like a central calendar. We want to know what's going on and how we can build our business through supporting events," Miranda continued.
She described multiple calendars of events that exist like the City's, the Chamber's, and with newspapers. "Let's think bigger. What if we had a quarterly or monthly recurring forum where businesses could come and get information. The players would be involved like the non-profits, the Arts, the sports. We could make it necessary for the businesses to want to be involved, the information could start building."
Miranda described the potential meetings as a great way for businesses to network with each other and collaborate together on providing services for upcoming events. "One of the problems has been that we give them the information but they don't do anything with it. This would be a place to discuss their challenges and ways to fix them. Then they walk away owning it."
"I see a lot of businesses working in their business, not on their business," Blake Syndergaard, committee member remarked. "There's a neglect to venture out and look at the new dynamics of things. It's a simple thing for them to have a welcome sign in the window, but how do we get them to buy into that?"
"We know we have three months that are really slim for businesses," Syndergaard said. "But we have nine months that are really good. We need to focus on that."
The Commission ultimately set May 23 as the first business forum to which they would invite "all different businesses, not just retailers." Miranda added that she and Hafen would present the proposition to the City Council at its May 22 meeting and work to have the forum televised.
Commission members also determined that each one would bring a "brand statement for the City" to the next meeting. They would create a list of the ideas and vote on the best ones at the next meeting.