It was only a little over one year ago that the bankruptcy plan for the City of Stockton was finalized and the City officially exited bankruptcy. While bankruptcy was a rough patch for Stockton, it is important to recognize what opportunities can grow from a city that has seen more than its fair share of challenges. Many saw that Stockton was in the midst of publicly difficult times and struggling with elevated crime issues, but didn’t realize that the private market was continuing to invest in Stockton. Companies were still locating their businesses here, developers were still building and families were still choosing to make Stockton their home.
As director of economic development in Stockton, I was reminded of what a great opportunity it is to be part of the rebirth of a city when I attended a federally-sponsored, peer-networking conference through the White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities effort. Struggling cities from all over the country gathered in Miami for three days in June 2015 to collaborate on ideas. Yes, all the cities you are thinking of were there: Flint, Compton, North Las Vegas, Trenton, Detroit, Richmond and many more. Each of these cities had, at some point or another, taken their turn on the Forbes list of most miserable cities in which to live.
As we sat around the table and I heard the passionate, innovative ideas to restore the uniqueness, character and promise to our cities, it became clear to me that if you ever wanted to invest in any of these cities, now is definitely the time. It’s Investment 101: You don’t generally buy a stock when the company is doing great, at the top of their game. You buy when it’s low. You find companies that are new or had a rough patch but have a fresh, committed leadership team with a demonstrated ability to perform and make the company profitable again. I see real momentum in Stockton, so here are some insider trading tips for you.
Downtown is ready to explode in creativity. Downtown Stockton has the staples every successful city hopes for: Stockton Arena, where the Heat (a minor league ice hockey team) play; Banner Island Ballpark, where the Ports play (a minor league affiliate of the Oakland A’s); the Stockton Marina and thousands of everyday office users. Downtown also has two schools. One of those, Collegiate, is a public charter school that was recently ranked the second best school in California by U.S. News. Additionally, the “creative class” has made downtown their playground. Murals continue to go up in unexpected places. Entrepreneurs are setting up shop at coworking hubs like Huddle and Café Coop. Pop-up retail is turning into brick-and-mortar locations through Stockmarket events. Now is the time to be part of a downtown renaissance.
The Port of Stockton is breaking records. Through the lean years, the Port of Stockton was a shining star. The Port of Stockton owns and operates a diversified and major transportation center that encompasses a 2,000-acre operating area. Last year, 245 vessels and 3.87 million tons of cargo made their way through the port. Watching the big cargo ships rolling through the Delta by the clubhouse of Stockton Golf and Country Club is something that never gets old. The port, railroads and major freeways will continue to bring investment into Stockton. One recent example of a retailer who understands this is the online women’s clothing shop Le Tote (the Netflix of clothes, as I have heard it described), which a few months ago opened a new major facility in Stockton, because of the strength of the location.
University Park is becoming an education and medical nucleus. This 102-acre park-like environment is home to Stanislaus State’s Stockton Center and the Health Careers Academy. With Dameron Hospital and Dignity Health’s St Joseph’s Medical Center right next door, University Park is positioned to see substantial growth in the quickly expanding health care market.
University of the Pacific is located in the middle of Stockton. This might surprise a few of you to learn, but UOP is in the heart of the city. The university’s 7,000-plus students are getting an outstanding education and are involved in many areas of the community. UOP is a great partner in the continuing evolution of the City of Stockton. You can find many students regularly wandering down Pacific Avenue to the Miracle Mile District, an area adjacent to the university that has quickly become the place for food and local retailers.
When I look at Stockton, I see a city bustling with the promise of a strong economy and business development. To some, this creates concerns for the gentrification of our neighborhoods and the downtown community. While I believe this concern is still far off, part of what makes Stockton great is its diversity and dynamic mix of people and perspectives.
There are more than just financial rewards in being part of rejuvenating a city. Sometimes when we think about return on investment, it only involves money — or at least that is the first thing that comes to mind. When you get to be part of something bigger and benefit the community as a whole, the payback is even better that expected.
I know you are saying to yourself, “Of course you are going to have good things to say, your job is to sell the City of Stockton,” and you would be right. All I can say is come check it out for yourself. I would be happy to introduce you to Stockton if you haven’t been here before or, if you haven’t visited in awhile, reintroduce you to my city.
David Garcia, Stockton born and bred, has a background in urban policy and planning and has called cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C., home. So when he and Tim Egkan co-founded Huddle, a new coworking space in downtown Stockton that held its soft opening last June, he knew change was possible. But that doesn’t mean he thinks it will be easy.
Amy Sieffert, a Stockton native, has been running a vintage clothing business since 2010 — but she had to leave her hometown to make a profit. On weekends, she would travel to Sacramento and the Bay Area because there were no local makers markets where she lived. To help turn this ghost town into a local hotspot, Sieffert and business partner Katie Macrae created the Stockmarket, a seasonal market that showcases Central Valley artisans.