What’s that I hear? It’s the sound of the Clovis economy growing – at a fast pace. New construction, vacant storefronts filling up and many new home-based businesses are all adding to the ongoing vibrancy of our community.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Clovis has been known as a pro-business city for years with smart planning, zoning and a well-educated population that both creates new jobs but also spends its money locally. Clovis also enjoys income from out of the city limits. Its many events – BIG Hat Days, ClovisFest, the Rodeo, Farmers’ Market and Wine Walks – to name a few, attract people from other areas and several new companies from out of state are now headquartered here that adds to our economic base.
For two years running, we have been recognized as the Number One City to Raise a Young Family by NerdWallet, a logistics company in the Silicon Valley. The criteria was all based on statistics, not PR from the city. We were evaluated on our schools, economic vitality and cost of living. The gap between Clovis and the second place city, Folsom, was large.
That designation itself has been a magnet to people who appreciate the values of a small town with the advantages of an economically progressive, successful large city. In 2014, Clovis Unified saw the first major increase in enrollment since before the recession while housing permits are steadily increasing.
A growing population is a positive event as long as a majority are workers, many high skilled, who will become the employees or owners of new businesses. They also help pay the taxes that keep city services efficiently running. According to NerdWallet, median household income increased 54.4% from 1999 to 2011. With the highest percentage of college graduates in the Central Valley and new families moving here for our schools, we continue to be on the right track.
Going back several years, we have to look at the Clovis Crossings Shopping Center anchored by the WalMart Supercenter and Dick’s Sporting Goods, as the first “re-start” during the recession. For 10 years, the Chamber supported the project while fielding phone calls and complaint letters that it would drive business out of the city. We saw it differently. We said it would bring business because a new set of shoppers from the foothills would get off at the Clovis off ramp on Herndon rather than driving on into Fresno. At the risk of sounding arrogant, we can say we were right. Not only is the shopping center doing well, it has brought new business to Shaw Ave where several vacant stores are now occupied. Even Old Town Clovis has seen an uptick in business.
Things really started hopping last fall when the city announced its plans for the Centennial Plaza in Old Town. Although not yet completed, so far it looks like an incredible addition to the heart of the city. It is planned to be mostly completed by BIG Hat Days on April 11th and 12th so you can get a sneak peek.
Three major shopping areas have new management. The most recent is the Sierra Vista Mall that completed its deal in late January. Plans are underway to bring in many new businesses to the excitement of current merchants and the mall management. Of course it will continue to host the Chamber’s largest mixer – the BIG Hat Mixer in March – and be a major entertainment venue with its Rock the Mall concerts on Thursdays.
The Clovis Trading Post on the corner of Clovis and Herndon has new owners who want to take advantage of the additional traffic from the center across the street. We’ve heard that they will split the large, longtime vacant SaveMart grocery store and CVS into smaller areas that will attract mid-sized businesses. Just you watch – within a year, that center in a prime location will be fully occupied and successful.
The shopping area at Shaw and Minnewawa will also undergo major remodeling under a new owner as the city strives to keep its citizens shopping locally.
Plans are underway for a new event center by the same firm that just opened one in Fresno. Its location is still being worked out.
Old Town is in no way Old according to a recent article in the Fresno Bee. Once again the city is staying ahead of the game by passing a law that allows wine and beer tasting rooms in Old Town. The first one doesn’t have a name yet but has a home – on the east side of Fourth Street close to Pollasky. Customers can buy a glass of beer on tap and buy their 559 Raisin Farmer ale that is already popular in Fresno. Owner Rhett Williams wanted to relocate to Clovis to enjoy its quaintness and expanding economy. The city will celebrate the new law by hosting its first Craft Beer Crawl on April 19th that will be fashioned after the successful Old Town Wine Walks.
Although there are still plenty of antiques, Old Town is catering more to the younger crowds. On the Edge Coffee House on Pollasky is often filled and vendors at the weekly Farmers’ Market have noticed a lot of young mothers.
Even the Chamber’s events, BIG Hat Day and ClovisFest have seen an increase in attendance, many from the young set. The continued success of the carnival and the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden comes from upcoming generations.
The city is working with a citizens committee that is looking into expanding and enhancing the area south of Fifth Street. Other requested changes are later store hours, a theater and a micro- brewery. Knowing Clovis, it will happen soon.
In the meantime they are busy working on the new library and senior center that will be located adjacent to the Clovis Heritage Center at 3rd and Clovis Avenues.
These are just a few new businesses and activities going on in our community. The Chamber knows something is happening from the number of businesses joining the Chamber. Most are brand new but many have been here awhile and recognize the importance of Chamber membership for their success.
Thanks to our high quality school system, city government and population, Clovis will continue to grow smartly and maintain its award winning ways. We all are fortunate to be a part of this grand collaboration.