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Vision 2020 Creating Lodi’s Economic Future

Not one to rest on its laurels, the Lodi Chamber of Commerce is in the middle of a five-year plan to ensure Lodi’s economic future. Vision 2020 is an economic plan drafted by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to ensure Lodi’s best days are the days ahead. The plan is a visioning project driven by what volunteers and community stakeholders have said they would like to see Lodi “be like, look like, and work like” in 2020.

The community has been so receptive to the concept that it has taken on a larger purpose, evolving into a true city-wide effort. Those involved include health care professionals, local school teachers and principals, business owners and employees, city council members, faith leaders, nonprofit executives, and, of course, individual citizens.

The broad-range plan lays out 55 goals, some short-term and some long-term. It’s a concerted effort to ensure that Lodi’s best days lie ahead, according to Pat Patrick, Chamber CEO and President. The project started with 100 people in five “vision action teams” – or VATS – that cover the following categories: economic competitiveness, livability, tourism, workforce development, and business and community health.

Economic Competitiveness
The chief strategy here is to clearly communicate the critical need for economic improvement to and for all citizens of Lodi. Part of that includes an emphasis to shop and eat locally.

Another goal is to have an ongoing effort for targeted job creation through attracting new businesses to Lodi. Lastly, the city wants to help existing businesses expand to create more jobs. Under the 2020 plan, certain small and mid-size companies are being identified with potential to grow jobs. Another strategy is to identify local seasoned experts who can act as “economic gardeners” to cultivate local businesses.

Livability
Prime, desirable livability is key to drawing young families to town. Lodi leaders have recognized the need for a new generation to choose to work, play and live here. One goal is to develop more family-oriented anchor attractions.

Lodi’s charm is in its downtown, its deep roots and farming values; and in its identity as an established wine destination. In fact, “Wine Enthusiast Magazine” named Lodi the No. 1 Wine Region in the World. One of the next steps is to solidify pride in its diversity through establishing inclusive leadership.

Two other major livability-improvement strategies are to support agriculture that is so much a part of Lodi’s fabric, as well as to secure a post-secondary education institution in town.

In addition, the city is focused on Asset-Based Community Development – ABCD for short. For Lodi, that means approaching the preservation of the Heritage District from a new angle. Instead of trying to frequently react and problem-solve in a historic area that has recently had some poverty issues, Vision 2020 is focusing on the assets and how to grow from those, according to the Chamber’s President.

Tourism
Tourism is a major source of jobs and income for Lodi, with many downtown merchants noting that they receive up to 60 percent of revenue from tourists. Members of the Tourism VAT envision visitors returning multiple times to experience premium wines, farm-to-table cuisine, unique retail and expanding cultural attractions.

Major strategies to increase visitor flow into Lodi include the following:

• Creating a comprehensive way-finding program, which primarily
focuses on improving signage
• Enhancing the downtown experience
• Developing coordinated branding to help promote Lodi
• Using existing facilities in a more optimal way to host events

Workforce development
Essential to the future of workforce development is the Lodi Jobs Academy – a partnership with businesses that are part of the Chamber’s Lodi Industrial Group, the Workforce Development VAT and the Lodi Unified School District’s Career Tech Department. The aim is to have job creators work with the schools who prepare students for jobs, by teaching what the businesses need them to know to succeed in that field. The businesses design the curriculum. Employers also provide students with plant tours, Manufacturing Day, internships, scholarships and jobs. A large skills-gap vacuum of needed skills was created by the many retiring Baby Boomers. The Lodi Jobs Academy is a plus for employers, and it’s a plus for students who want to be in-demand in the job market soon. A major component of this is promoting STEM classes and skills. The Vision 2020 plan has made sure this kind of education starts in middle school and carries on throughout higher education.

Seventy percent of jobs over the next 10-15 years will not require a bachelor’s degree or greater, according to the Chamber. So an accreditation from a junior college or a professional certificate from a skills panel from Lincoln Tech in the Heritage District will help learners get a wage that can support a family.

Business and community health
And lastly, Vision 2020 volunteers are working diligently to see the big picture of a robust city – one that includes the literal health of citizens, too. The main areas of focus include these elements:
• Youth Wellness
• Revitalization of the Heritage District
• Employee Wellness Programs in Lodi Businesses
• Supportive role for the quality of life issues for Senior population

Lodi leaders believe that a coordinated effort with an eye on true health will ensure the city’s vitality and longevity in many ways, both physical and economic.

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