Commission seeks input from Hispanic community
Orland's Economic Development Commission is going to focus on including the Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic community in its activities this year.
It has three new members who have some fresh ideas on how to improve the city's business and tourism climate.
Commissioner Edgar Valenzuela attended his first meeting Monday night following his appointment by the City Council last month.
He also belongs to the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors and hopes to integrate that organization into the commission's conversations, Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela also plans to reach out to Orland's Hispanic business owners and churches to get their input on how to improve the city, he said.
More than 50 percent of Orland's population is Hispanic, so city officials say it is important to get that community involved.
Branding Orland is another important goal, Valenzuela said.
Gilroy has a "Garlic Festival," but Orland does not have such an event to make it known far and wide, he said.
"We need more events to bring people in," he said, "a reason for people to stop by."
Commissioner Sarah Leydon also is working on ideas for the new year.
"One of my biggest concerns is attracting additional businesses to the downtown region," Leydon said. "I want people to stay in Orland and play in Orland on the weekend instead of going to Chico or Sacramento."
It is apparent to most people downtown Orland has too many vacant buildings, she said, but making it more attractive could change that.
Simple steps like putting electrical outlets on existing light poles on Fourth Street would provide options for musical events and allow for better lighting along the sidewalks, Leydon said.
Removing the iron gates around the sidewalk trees also would make more "curb appeal," Leydon said.
She also wants to work with the Orland Arts Commission on entertainment projects that would bring visitors downtown and bring businesses outdoors on the streets.
A monthly music in the park program would help during the spring and summer, Leydon said.
"My main goal is to bring families together in Orland and get them to participate in downtown businesses and events," she added.
Another objective is to make Orland a place where children will want to stay once they are grown instead of moving away because there are not enough business opportunities here, Leydon said.
Improving fiberoptics in the area also could bring in more business, she said. "A little sprucing up and technology can do us good."
Leydon said taking "baby steps" to improve things fits with her idea of feasible goals that are within reach.
She also is utilizing the city's new "Facade Improvement" program to update the appearance of her medical billing business on Walker Street.
Mike Wyser is the third new commissioner.
"I'd like to see us follow through with a hotel and 24-hour diner," Wyser said, "something to get people off the freeway."
Orland is a sleepy community, he said, that tends to roll down its doors after 5 p.m.
However, college students, late night workers and travelers could use a restaurant that serves pie, coffee and other meals past 9 p.m., Wyser added.
Streamlining the business permitting process is another area Wyser says he wants to see improved.
Orland and Willows are working to unify their permitting processes along with Glenn County, so business people can know what needs to be done, officials said.
As an old town, Orland has a lot of history, Wyser said, and he thinks it would be "neat" for school children and visitors to see what was here in the past.
Plaques for buildings of historic interest need to be promoted, he said, along with signs for structures no longer here.
Wyser said he looks forward to attending a regional economic development conference next week in Oroville and hopes to bring back information to share from it.
Finally, if Orland could get WiFi connections it would help visitors and locals a like, he said.