Jay Smart came to Manteca by using two simple things – a map and a mechanical drawing compass.
Smart had accepted a job at Livermore Lab in the 1980s. He was moving his family from the Midwest and wanted to live within a certain radius of the lab.
Right on the circle was Manteca.
He sized up the other options within the parameter he had drawn and when he was through his family had fallen in love with Manteca. Eventually he became a city council member, helped revive the Fourth of July parade and aerial fireworks, and has since moved on to work for the federal government in the Washington, D.C., area.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – although Smart is a scientist – to understand that Manteca’s strongest attraction to those without great familiarity of the community or immediate area is its location.
That point is lost on folks like the so-called destination guru Roger Brooks who was paid $9,200 with a consulting fee picked up by PG&E in 2007 to tell the locals that no one picks a place to go because it is “The Heart of California” adding that “Highway 99 reeks of don’t stop here.”
Then, while using humor to essentially point out his belief he knew more about what ailed Manteca than anyone in the room when it came to luring visitors, he hammered home that no one ever picks a place to go based simply on its location.
True - to a degree.
Long before Rogers pocketed his $9,200 and was unsuccessful at shaking down the locals for his full $40,000 fee to develop a blueprint for tourism Manteca had already made some significant moves.
The decision to build the Big League Dreams sports complex, develop Woodward Park as a major soccer complex, snagging Bass Pro Shops, and even put in place a family-friendly BMX track all built on Manteca’s location just like the late Budge Brown did when he added waterslides to his repertoire of agricultural pursuits.
It is also why Great Wolf Resorts is pondering investing $200 million to build a 600-room resort with a 75,000-square-foot indoor water park and an accompanying conference center.
Brooks was right in that no one will come to Manteca simply because it is 70 miles from San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento. But if you have things to do they will.
He was wrong, though, when he argued you can’t promote a community because of its location. Manteca is unique in being equal distance from three major metro areas, on a key route to one of the nation’s premiere national parks, having the Delta in its backyard, and being on the two key north-south West Coast freeways.
In that respect, branding Manteca as “The Heart of California” or “The Crossroads of California” will have much more impact than “Hook, Wine & Sneakers” with non-Californians It’s a catchy slogan based on the nearby Delta and Bass Pro sports, Delicato Vineyards, and active recreation sports.
But it doesn’t zero on Manteca’s true ace-in-the-hole. It’s central – and less than two hour drive – to almost every major Northern California destination that lures tourists from across the globe.
Tossing in Bass Pro, BLD, and et al gives validity to the location.
Manteca is a place where you can do some family-orientated things but you can also take in the tourist hot spots too.
“The Heart of California” and “The Crossroads of California” tells someone unfamiliar with the area a lot more about Manteca’s key geographic advantage than “Hook, Wine & Sneakers” ever will.
That doesn’t mean anyone should deep-six the “Hook, Wine & Sneakers” slogan. It might be effective – though – to resurrect one of the other monikers and give it equal play.