It’s time to bury the hatchet.
In doing so it will likely mean putting the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau on the chopping block.
But it also means everyone involved with promoting and developing business/visitors opportunities should lock themselves in a room and not come out until they sober up to the fact this is Manteca and not Sacramento, Calaveras County or Stockton for that matter.
Putting aside last week’s bizarre death throes performance at the Manteca City Council budget workshop after the remaining CVB employee essentially countered the council’s polite “we’re-not-going-to-give-you-a-cent-let-alone-$120,000” decision by asking, “well then how about $460,000”, there is a legitimate reason why it makes sense to earmark tax dollars to a focused and robust effort to get people to spend money in Manteca.
And that is the bottom line: Spending money in Manteca. It doesn’t matter if it is the City of Manteca, private business, the Manteca Chamber of Commerce or the CVB. The goal is to generate consumer dollars to support jobs as well as underwrite government services through the purchase of goods and services and paying taxes on them.
While you’d like everyone who lives here to do so, the real payoff is when you get non-residents to spend money here and pay “voluntary taxes” in the form of motel room and sales taxes. They are voluntary in the sense they could be spent elsewhere and aren’t an absolute rigid tax there is no choice to pay such as what is assessed on the owner of property. If you don’t want to pay motel taxes, don’t travel and seek lodging. You can avoid paying Manteca any sales taxes by opting not to shop here even if you live here with the glaring exception of purchasing a vehicle.
In California you pay all local sales taxes — the one cent from the basic 7.5 cents per $1 and extras such as San Joaquin County’s half cent Measure K tax for roads and transit and Manteca’s half cent public safety tax — that is collected within the jurisdiction of where your vehicle will be garaged and not in the jurisdiction where you buy it.
This was done to stop the cannibalism amongst cities willing to sell their soul to lure a business that every time a commodity is sold it can fetch $30,000 plus generate $2,250 in sales tax of which $300 goes to a city. Sell enough Ford Fusions in a year and you’ve got the cost of a police officer covered.
Stopping the subsidizing of auto malls was easy, doing the same thing about major shopping malls wasn’t. Given the changing state of retail it is now looks penny wise and pound foolish to shower a developer with tax breaks to land a big whale such as Vintage Faire Mall. Not only are there virtual stores but the brick and mortar that is thriving has adopted strategies to match the changing times.
Making this all ironic is Manteca by design or chance is at the forefront of what one could argue is the “safe” investment for the economic vitality of a community and its municipal government — leisure spending. Until such time as people go on vacation in some high-tech virtual reality pleasure dome by slipping into a device that looks like a tanning bed at your neighborhood virtual vacation outlet, people will have to go to physical locations to get away.
Manteca has already tapped into that 100-mile plus market through Big League Dreams and Bass Pro Shops to a degree. And should McWhinney bring negotiations with a competitor of Great Wolf Resorts to a positive conclusion, Manteca will score the trifecta of short-term destination spending for families with a healthy dose of discretionary income. It helps that Manteca is less than an hour away from almost all of what is arguably one of this nation’s most economically resilient regions — the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Bay Area families kept spending throughout the Great Recession on what would best be described as discretionary items — traveling soccer and softball teams for their kids, ski trips to Bear Valley, shopping at Bass Pro Shops, and so forth.
Making this all the more ironic is the City of Manteca could very easily own or be a player in the biggest draws when it comes to luring visitors dollars — Big League Dreams, an indoor water resort with other attractions, and what is expected to be the largest conference center in the 209 region.
Getting people to Manteca to fill motel rooms and access the three primary attractions isn’t the issue. Getting them to venture out beyond nearby restaurants and stores is.
In a community where perhaps 50 percent of people who have moved here in the past decade have no inkling Manteca is home to the nation’s 12th largest winery and the fact Delicato Vineyards has a large wine tasting room just six miles north of downtown plus having the first, third, and fourth wineries (they don’t have wine tasting rooms) nearby, it is clear marketing Manteca not just to visitors but to residents must be a priority.
The first step is not to keep splintering the effort. Collapse the CVB functions back within the Manteca Chamber of Commerce. From there a strategy needs to be devised and implemented that reflects the realities of Manteca — not Livermore, not Calaveras County, and not the cookie-cutter approach of a carpet bagging firm that sells formula platforms to advocate visits.
As for the visitors’ bureau’s bizarre proposal for the City Council to give them $460,000 in tax dollars to address the homeless problem, the homeless seem to have no problem coming to visit Manteca. In fact they love Manteca so much they stay.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.