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Community Introduction

Merced is a dynamic community of about 81,743 people, with friendly, small-town living in a mid-size city. The University of California Merced campus, opened in 2005, provides new educational and economic opportunities, adding to the already-established growth of the region. Merced’s population is youthful and diverse.

Located in the heart of California’s agricultural Central Valley, Merced is the region’s hub for education, culture and business. The community offers abundant shopping, pleasant neighborhoods and tree-lined streets. Merced’s revitalized downtown is emerging as the entertainment and dining center of the area. Annual events and festivals bring regional and even national recognition to the community.

Merced boasts dozens of tree-shaded parks, miles upon miles of bike paths, golf courses and plenty of choices for sailing, water skiing and fishing. Lake Yosemite is a favorite with sailors and windsurfers alike and its grassy, tree-lined shore makes a perfect setting for a Sunday afternoon picnic. Or, residents may prefer to take in an afternoon concert at the Merced Open Air Theatre, one of many cultural programs supported by the Merced County Arts Council.

Recreational and cultural opportunities certainly contribute to that special quality of life in Merced, but what may be more important is the sense of community that is shared by the people who live here. Businesses and individuals take pride in their volunteer accomplishments. Local government is responsive to community needs.

Perhaps it is our agricultural roots, but Merced has maintained a small-town environment in an urban setting. Neighborhoods are still the building blocks of the community. Wide, tree-lined streets and spacious homes offer a pleasant contrast to the congested residential areas of larger cities. Neighbors spend time together, watch out for each other, and backyard barbecues are a way of life.

Merced’s valley location southeast of San Francisco provides easy access to the central California coast, Sierra Nevada Mountains, national parks and major cities. Merced has historically been the

“Gateway to Yosemite,” and residents also enjoy short drives to skiing, beaches, fishing and other outdoor attractions.

Tom Leach
Chamber President

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