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Burbank OKs 5-year economic development plan

Burbank OKs 5-year economic development plan
Burbank will continue to focus on attracting and retaining businesses to the city, as well as develop young entrepreneurs. (File Photo)

After six months of additional time, an economic development strategic plan that will help guide the city will now be put into place.

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Council members unanimously voted on Tuesday to support the five-year plan aimed at creating jobs, enticing and retaining businesses and luring travelers to the city, as well as providing amenities for residents and visitors.

Staff initially presented the economic plan in February but was directed by the City Council to clarify information regarding the city’s demographics and economic indicators.

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Mary Hamzoian, the city’s economic development manager, outlined the strategies her department will be taking in the coming years to continue building the city’s economy.

She said much has already been done to attract new businesses to Burbank, including creating an economic development website, which is kept up to date about the current economic climate and city regulations, as well as offering a promotional video.

Using demographic analytics, Hamzoian said her staff members have been able to identify the needs of residents and visitors, and in turn pursue businesses that could best address those requests.

“We attend trade shows and conventions to market and promote available properties and opportunity sites to potential businesses that are looking to come to Burbank, and we market and promote the city to decision-makers, developers and businesses looking to relocate,” she said.

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Along with attracting new businesses, Hamzoian said it is more important to keep existing companies in town.

“Even greater than business attraction, retention of existing businesses and jobs is key to the economic vitality of a city,” she said. “If your existing businesses are happy and thriving, then more businesses will want to locate to your area.”

To make that they stay put and are happy, Hamzoian and her team meet with local business representatives to discuss how well they are doing and address any issues they might have.

Councilman Bob Frutos conveyed concerns that many businesses in Magnolia Park have expressed, the biggest of which is increasing rents.

When asked what was being done for mom-and-pop merchants like the ones in Magnolia Park, Hamzoian said the city can bring in consultants who can work with those specific businesses to help them with marketing, integrating technology to their stores and lease negotiations.

Hamzoian also said the city organizes events called Burbank Tech Talks throughout the year, in which both experienced and new entrepreneurs can network and learn from one another.

Hamzoian said she and her staff have been focusing on developing the city’s tourism market, which she said has been a success so far.

She has hired social media influencers from various mediums, mainly Instagram users, to help promote Burbank through their posts. Hamzoian added a downtown art and mural program was created to entice people to visit that area.

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Additionally, events such as the Burbank Car Classic, Burbank Beer Festival and Burbank Winter Wine Walk have drawn thousands of people to the downtown area, boosting activity for local businesses.

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