Best Practices

 

CITY OF FREMONT
Mayor Gus Morrison

Retail Shopping Center Pilot Project

The City of Fremont is working aggressively to retain existing businesses and promote the expansion and attraction of commercial and industrial businesses. One of several innovative partnership projects developed by the city is the Retail Shopping Center Pilot Project.

The project was developed in September 1994, in partnership with nine shopping center managers, after economic development outreach efforts into the community revealed that the retail community felt "unconnected" and uninformed. Center managers believed they had no business network through which they could make referrals or share information.

The focus of the project is to initiate collaborative projects with participating centers for the purpose of retaining and expanding existing businesses and attracting new businesses. Both the city and the managers are open to trying projects and evaluating their effectiveness. Meetings with shopping center managers are now held monthly, and discussion is focused on an agenda developed by the managers. City staff attend the meetings in the capacity of advisors and facilitators.

Accomplishments during the first six months of the project include the following:

Multiple listing for retail spaces. California real estate multiple listing services do not include listings for small retail spaces, making it difficult for businesses to know what retail spaces are available and the costs of the spaces. City staff worked with shopping center managers to develop "Opportunity Fremont," a quarterly listing of retail spaces available in participating shopping centers. Information in the publication includes size of the tenant space, rental rates and a contact person for the shopping center. The information is mailed to over 150 real estate brokers, the Chamber of Commerce, City Council and commission members, and city staff. The information will also be included in the City of Fremont Internet folder.
  • Networking Opportunities. Managers of the retail centers have begun networking and sharing information on common issues, such as sign and banner policies, operational policies and available tenant spaces.

  • Code Enforcement. The retail center managers want to be the first contact with their tenants about standards and code compliance; they do not condone banners and other tenant activities that violate city codes. The managers have expressed a desire to work together to enhance their lease agreements to better inform their tenants about city standards. Center managers want city staff to work with them, not the tenants, to resolve particular problems. They believe they will be able to resolve the majority of code enforcement problems, and only as a last resort do they wish to involve city staff. The city is interested in this partnership because it has the potential of "extending" city staff, at no extra cost, as well as enhancing the quality of the city.

  • Economic Development Strategy. This program represents one of several undertaken by the city as part of a city-wide, long term reinventing government strategy. The economic development initiative in 1995 is to create a community economic development strategy, recognizing that many segments of the community, not just the city, are essential partners in successful economic development. This project has successfully demonstrated the power of public/private collaboration and has resulted in the business community and city staff being better informed about the needs of the business community.
Contact: Ann Draper, (510) 494-4800

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Leisure Services Innovations in Program Registration

The City of Fremont Leisure Services Department has implemented new program payment and refund systems that are receiving praise from their citizen users. The programs are designed to speed up the refund process and enable customers to use credit cards to register for programs and make payments.

Refunds for Recreation Classes. The department has implemented a system for refunding recreation class fees at the walk-in registration counter of the department. The system has reduced the time required to process a refund from six weeks to a matter of minutes. Previously, a refund could take up to six weeks because each transaction had to be approved and processed by both the Leisure Services Department and the Finance Department prior to a check being mailed to the customer by the Finance Department.

Credit Card Payments for Recreation Programs and Services. In an effort to continuously improve customer service, the Leisure Services Department now accepts credit card payments for recreation program registration and services as well as animal shelter services. Participants in recreation programs, especially working parents, have voiced their pleasure at having the option to pay for classes and supplies using credit cards. In five months, the department processed over $36,000 in credit card transactions, representing about 14 percent of its total transactions. Staff at one of the city's art galleries made over $4,000 in credit card sales in a five month period, which equaled the total estimated annual revenue for the entire prior fiscal year. The city's Tennis Center reports that 13 percent of the revenue collected for tennis tournaments has been received through credit card payments. Tennis Center staff have received telephone inquiries from tournament directors across northern California requesting information and assistance to help establish similar procedures at their respective agencies.

Contact: Ninju Kumaran, (510) 494-4362

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