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Rocklin chamber hitting streets

Rocklin Walk & Talk survey results reported
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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Community leaders hit the streets last October with the intent of gathering ideas from residents about the city’s economic priorities. The Rocklin Walk and Talk followed up on what Rocklin Chamber of Commerce team members learned during the 2009 and 2010 Business Walks, explained David Butler, CEO of LEED and 2011 chamber president. “Over the course of the last few years, chamber leaders have focused on the importance of economic development and the chamber’s role,” said Butler. While the business walks were highly successful, Butler said, chamber and city leaders realized they could also reach out to residents. “This is the first time that I know of that we’ve gone directly to the public,” said Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, chair of the Public Policy Department at William Jessup University and coordinator of last October’s event. The two-day event was hosted by the Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce, city of Rocklin, William Jessup University as well as area schools and businesses. On the first day of the walk, volunteers approached residents in 10 different neighborhoods. On the second day, teams were stationed in front of several area businesses. They asked two basic questions: “What do you value about living in Rocklin?” and “What can local business, education and government do to improve your experience?” Based on an analysis of the survey results, Samuel-Burnett and her students derived five distinct recommendations, which could become the framework for the city’s strategic planning. “It provides a common platform for everybody to work on,” added Butler. Those recommendations are: prioritize education and recreation, develop entertainment and restaurants, provide retail and shopping opportunities, develop job opportunities and determine unique qualities and ways to improve the city’s quality of life. Most residents cited the quality of schools and parks as their top priority. Many indicated those were major factors in their decision to settle in the community. Rocklin has the distinction of being the only city in the region to have both a community college and a private university, Butler noted. Shopping and services also topped the list of priorities. Residents expressed an interest in art galleries, boutique shops, a book store and even a Trader Joe’s. Others suggested entertainment venues that target the youth, like a skating rink. “Despite the fact there are several restaurants in both Rocklin and nearby cities,” Samuel-Burnett said, “restaurants remain a priority for Rocklin residents as businesses they would like to see.” While the survey did not address jobs specifically, nearly 20 percent of the respondents suggested more manufacturing businesses. Residents’ concerns for improving Rocklin’s quality of life included lowering fees for new businesses, attracting more grocery stores and maintaining and filling existing retail spaces. With the survey results in hand, Butler, Samuel-Burnett and Robin Trimble, executive director of the chamber have started walking the talk. They gave a presentation to the Rocklin City Council last week and will be addressing the Rocklin Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting on Feb. 9. “When you do a project like this, you can’t just leave it in the air,” said Samuel-Burnett. “You have to take action in following up not only with the members of the chamber, but also with the city council.” The partnership developed for this project will benefit the community, Trimble said. They believe the survey results can serve as a guide for keeping Rocklin’s high quality of life, while improving the economic vitality of its businesses. For more information about the survey results, visit rocklin chamber.com.