Vista, CA –Successful cities recognize that their vitality depends on new innovations, diverse industries, a talented workforce, a vibrant downtown, and a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem. These cities have created an environment where people want to do business through creative economic development strategies, along with strong retention efforts.
Not only is Vista a city that embraces these qualities, it continues to receive numerous accolades for its economic development programs – from attracting an award-winning craft brewery industry to successful startups, new developments, and more.
Vista’s success is often reflected in the awards the city is honored with year after year including the CALED (California Association for Local Economic Development) award, an honor that highlights outstanding city support of local economic growth and development.
Vista’s Mayor, Judy Ritter,credits Vista’s awards to the city’s businesses that value the opportunities the city of Vista brings, “I think the city itself won these awards,” said Mayor Ritter. “The City Council really prides itself on attracting and supporting all its businesses – small and large and the jobs these businesses create.”
The City of Vista has played a pivotal role in helping start-up businesses thrive in their community. As part of the Innovate78 initiative, they have helped launch and develop incubator businesses like Open Source Maker Labs (OSML) that opened in 2014 as North County’s first and only makerspace and business incubator.
OSML was founded by retired US Navy Captain, Dan Hendricks, with a mission to develop the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, problem solvers, and leaders. The 3,000 square foot facility is located in the Vista Business Park which is zoned for industrial research and development and is fitted with office space, a conference and meeting room, and a large lab for building and testing.
Hendricks chose to locate in Vista because he said, “When we did the initial research for a business location we looked at a lot of factors – census data, zoning, location and types of other businesses, and proximity of colleges and universities. When all of this was laid out on a map, the corridor along CA 78 stood out by far as the region with the most potential. Vista was an ideal center point in this region, making it readily accessible for potential customers. A few months after we selected this area, the Innovate78 initiative was announced, which was a strong confirmation of our decision.”
Hendricks also feels it is with the help of the City’s Economic Development Director, Kevin Ham and his team that he found the perfect location for his business. “We had some difficulty in finding a match with zoning. In our first meeting, he (Ham) resolved our issue. In the first 30 seconds: he opened with ‘you’re making a makerspace – you help create businesses and jobs – you’re in.’ He understood exactly what we were proposing and we aligned perfectly with the zoning in the Vista Business Park.”
Hendricks feels the city leaders of Vista are continually investing in creative economic development because, “It’s all about supporting a healthy and thriving community. People like to live in North County for many reasons. If we can have a diverse and sustainable economy here, too – people can work near where they like to live.”
Booze Brothers Tasting Room on Progress Street in Vista
Another example of businesses thriving in large part to the supportive culture of the City of Vista is Booze Brothers Brewing Company. Brothers Dave and Donny grew up in Vista and have been part of the Vista brewing scene since they started in their garage six years ago. They chose to stay in Vista because they feel Vista has always been accommodating to the start-up and craft brewing industry.
Kris Anacleto, manager of Booze Brothers and Owl Farm, its fermented drink spin-off company, feels Vista’s leadership team has been instrumental in helping Booze Brothers succeed. “We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support from the city. We didn’t have a ton of experience starting a new business from the ground up, and we heard some nightmare stories from other breweries, what they had to go through to open in other locations. Thankfully things went fairly smooth for us.”
Anacleto also believes it’s the forward-thinking attitude that Vista leaders have that keeps moving the city forward. “I think the foresight that breweries could really shift Vista into a larger destination spot was really smart on their behalf. It’s awesome they were able to jump on that before a lot of other cities figured it out.”
A Booze Brothers pint
“It’s great that Vista’s reputation keeps growing as a strong area in the San Diego beer scene. For our brewery to be part of that is pretty special. We’re thankful to the entire community for embracing us and helping us grow in ways we never would have imagined.”
Continued growth is the plan for Ham and his team. This effort was noticed by the International Economic Development Council who awarded Ham with the 2019 Jeffre A. Finkle Award, a prestigious honor that, “recognizes an individual who has continuously led the same public or non profit economic development organization with integrity, tenacity, and a philanthropic spirit for at least 15 years.”
Ham is honored by the award but knows it is outreach, teamwork and continued communication that keeps the city thriving. “People don’t realize the City has ways of helping them create magic.” Ham says it’s important to help businesses better understand what they need to do to succeed. “We work to help and guide new and existing businesses on ways to find spaces to open their business, get proper licensing (Federal, State & Local), and market their companies in Vista and beyond.” Ham went on to say “This is a team effort that involves Community Development, Engineering and many other departments that understand and assist in this process”.
Another key component of Vista’s success is the City’s relationship with property management and development companies. Blending government with private business is a tricky job as the two entities often have differing goals for a community. However, Vista has found the perfect balance by intermixing a business-friendly attitude with a community-first approach.
Atomic Investments, Inc. President, Philip Teyssier agrees. This family run real estate firm has owned and managed commercial properties in Vista since the 1970s and continues to invest here. Teyssier said the main reasons his business has chosen to invest in Vista is because, “We’ve found Vista to be a desirable area due to its central and accessible location, strong economic climate, and the City’s pro-business approach.”
He continued to say, “The City is well-managed and is active at seeking out, and welcomes new businesses and they work with these businesses to become established in Vista. In addition, the City remains available to help even after the businesses located here, and they work with other areas of government, when practical, to coordinate required government approvals.”
The live-work-play balance is important to Vista leadership and they have continued to make this a priority. Ham’s Jeffre A. Finkle Award is a reflection of the years of planning and thought that has gone into making Vista such a vibrant community for its residents, visitors, and businesses.
To Teyssier, this diligence makes a big difference, “The City has a strong and diverse community, excellent business parks, and over the years, I have seen the downtown grow into a wonderful area with restaurants, movie theaters, and shopping. These things don’t just happen, it takes long-term strategic planning and the City helps by supporting business.”
“We appreciate the access that City officials and departments offer and their on-going efforts that often benefit our tenants, and ultimately make the City a favorable place for us to invest. The City manages itself well so that business can work on running its operations.”
As the City’s Economic Development Department continues to reach its goal to attract, retain, and grow businesses within the City, these businesses – OSML, Booze Brothers, and Atomic Investments, Inc., continue to develop and build new innovations, succeed in creating a product that brings jobs to Vista, and builds and maintains locations for businesses to grow – are all part of why Vista is an ideal place for today’s leading businesses.
Ham realizes businesses are truly stakeholders in the development and growth of a city. He summarized this approach when he said, “By creating an environment to help new and small businesses flourish and supporting the growth of existing businesses, Vista continues to be the ideal North County location for businesses to succeed.”
Economic Development contact for the City of Vista:
Economic Development Director