A Sacramento councilman says it's time for the city to change the way it treats businesses.
Councilman Jay Schenirer unveiled proposals Tuesday to improve the city's economy. Schenirer was flanked by regional business leaders, three council members, City Manager John Shirey and Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Schenirer's proposal will be folded into a broader five-year economic development strategy to be released by Shirey before the end of the year.
A key part of the plan is to alter the perception that Sacramento is unfriendly toward business.
"We are perceived, and some of it is reality, as being one of the worst places to do business in California," Schenirer said. "That just has to change, and we need to send a very strong message out that this city is open for business."
Schenirer's plan comes amid continued economic troubles in the city. Both Campbell Soup and Comcast recently said they will close facilities in the region, and the city's unemployment rate stands above 10 percent.
Joining Schenirer in drafting the plan were members of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce; Region Builders, which represents companies and trade groups in the building industry; the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects; the Downtown Sacramento Partnership; local developers; and city staffers.
The foundation of Schenirer's plan includes examining the city's business regulations, which some criticize for being out of date and too severe. Shirey said some of that work is already under way, including revamping the city's 50-year-old zoning code.
"It has layer after layer after layer of complexity to it," Shirey said of the zoning code.
Schenirer also wants to develop neighborhood-based economic development plans that will focus on sparking growth in small areas including possibly looking at the neighborhood around the soon-to-close Campbell Soup factory in south Sacramento.
Schenirer said he also thinks the city should develop a more robust marketing strategy.
"We have a great city, but we're not very good at talking about it," he said.
Other parts of the plan include identifying where investments can be made in infrastructure; looking for incentives to attract and retain businesses; working to attract a "creative class" of entrepreneurs; and finding ongoing funding sources to keep the plan afloat.
To assist in the work, Schenirer has enrolled the help of the business school at UC Davis. Five business graduate students will be working for 20 weeks at a time on his proposal, studying what other cities have done to improve their business climates.
Proposed changes that result from the work will be presented to the City Council's Law and Legislation Committee in the coming months for approval. Those changes would likely then be debated by the City Council.