Vista Paves Way for Growth Over Next Five Years and Beyond
Vista, CA –While many small and mid-sized cities around the United States struggle because their economies were built largely on one main sector, the City of Vista has diversified its business community by creating robust economic development strategies – from an award-winning brewery cluster to thriving industrial parks, and a hopping historic downtown.
Even during this past year’s pandemic, Vista has attracted new companies and investments while supporting the city’s existing businesses.
In an effort to continue its urban economic revival, the City of Vista recently released its Vista Economic Development Strategy (VEDS), a strategic framework to guide the City’s economic development policies and programs over the next five years.
The VEDS plan is designed to achieve the following major goals:
- Expand economic opportunities for Vista’s resident workforce.
- Revitalize Vista’s commercial and industrial areas.
- Strengthen the City’s fiscal position.
The VEDS committee studied a number of factors, including an industry “cluster” analysis to identify the industry groups that are the most important “engines” of the existing local economy, as well as the industry groups that are likely to offer the most attractive growth potentials in the future. A real estate market analysis was also conducted to identify potential future demand for commercial and industrial development in the City.
The targeted industry clusters include:
- Medical Devices
- Information technology
- Distribution and knowledge creation
- Food/beverage processing
- Entertainment/arts (Downtown destination)
“The VEDS committee was able to identify certain industries and business types that would be a great addition to the existing mix of businesses. This will help in planning new infrastructure and create a master plan of what will best benefit the City and its existing businesses as the city grows,” said Clay McCarthy, a longtime Vista resident, local business owner and VEDS committee member.
McCarthy – Director of Operations, Quality Lock & Security Services and co-owner of the popular Downtown Vista eatery Wildwood Crossing and Cantina – said the new strategic plan will further fuel the city’s success.
He pointed to three factors that have been key to the City’s award-winning economic development game plan: Vista’s geographic location, excellent weather, and the ability of Vista’s Economic Development Department to identify and attract quality business.
“The City has been very responsive and helpful in creating an environment for business investment,” McCarthy said. “I have had my business, Quality Lock and Security Services, downtown since 2002 and have had numerous interactions with the City regarding my business and have found the City to be very willing to help overcome all challenges. Recently, they helped me with an access issue to my business while they were reworking the sidewalks and parking spaces in front of my business. I also am a partner in Wildwood Crossing & Cantina restaurant, and the City has been very supportive and helpful in navigating the various challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Clay McCarthy (left) with John Bagley, Managing Partner of WildWood Crossing and Cantina in Downtown Vista.
McCarthy added that the new five-year plan will inject even more life into Vista’s bustling Downtown, something he is personally excited about.
“Vista’s downtown continues to grow and now with the addition of the Rylan Project on Paseo Santa Fe, we will have people living downtown. This addition will be great for local businesses. I think there will be more of this type of development in the future.”
McCarthy may be onto something. Just take a look at Vista’s last economic development strategy in 2009, which breathed life into its now famous craft brewery cluster as well as a thriving historic downtown.
The City of Vista has also managed to attract and grow several key industry clusters, such as software, manufacturing, biotech, aerospace/defense and food and beverage.
According to the Milken Institute, top-performing cities have cohesive strategies and diversified economies, allowing them to weather economic storms and leverage their assets more effectively.
It’s something that’s on the top of Vista Mayor Judy Ritter’s mind as she and her City colleagues look toward the near future.
“We want to continue to nurture and support our existing businesses and industries but also see around the corner new opportunities that will benefit our residents and businesses,” she said.
“Despite the economic headwinds caused by the pandemic, we believe Vista is well positioned for continued economic growth,” Ritter added.
That future growth, as outlined in VEDS, includes working closely with Vista Business Park property owners and businesses to ensure long-term vibrancy of this critical business district.
One of them is Adam Molnar, Managing Director, Leasing and Property Management of Hamann Companies, which owns and manages 21 industrial buildings, totaling approximately 485,000 square feet in Vista.
Molnar has worked for more than 20 years as an industrial real estate broker leasing and selling commercial properties in Vista. Today, he manages a portfolio of industrial properties in Vista.
Hamann Companies is currently enhancing interior and exterior spaces at several of its Vista buildings. These enhancements include new modern office spaces as well as outdoor amenities for tenants to enjoy. Pictured above is a landscaping project underway at 3055 Enterprise Court that will help provide outdoor areas to work and gather.
Molnar said the health of the commercial real estate market in Vista has been partly driven by steady occupancy over the past several years, which has accelerated over the past year. The primary driver, he said, has been demand for warehouse distribution space (Amazon), but has also included manufacturing uses such as Cue Health, DIG and HRE wheels.
The primary reason the City of Vista has been successful is because of its people, said Molnar, also a member of the VEDS committee.
“The economic development team and City leaders are creative, responsive and proactive. This helps the City retain businesses as they grow and attract new ones. Additionally, Vista is centrally located in the middle of North County and its master planned business park offers an ideal location for businesses to attract talent to develop, manufacture and distribute products.”
“City leaders make it easy to do business in Vista,” he added. “I often use Vista as an example when facing challenges in other municipalities.”
Rachel Beld, CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce, said she too is impressed with the health of the Vista Business Park and the City, which continues to attract top companies and talent.
“The combination of affordable property and lease rates and the willingness of the City to work with businesses make locating to Vista attractive,” said Beld, also a VEDS committee member. “The energy and excitement in Vista is palpable. People know that they are joining a community where things are happening.”
Beld described Vista as a “community of makers,” which the City will use in its branding and communications efforts through VEDS.
“We make craft beer and foods, we manufacture things like medical devices and aerospace equipment, we make art. This idea of ‘Vista made’ is just one piece of the overall branding for the City. This strategic plan is multi-faceted, addressing attraction, retention, targeted industries, workforce and marketing – it’s all in there. Having a strategy allows for all stakeholders to know the destination and to work collaboratively to get there much more quickly.”
As communities and businesses continue to recover from the year-long pandemic, Beld is confident the City of Vista will not only survive, but flourish.
“The last year has been really hard for everyone, particularly businesses, and it is encouraging to have a strategic plan to help guide Vista through the recovery and beyond. It’s an exciting time to be in Vista.”
Kevin Ham, Economic Development Director, City of Vista
P: 760.643.5244 – E: firstname.lastname@example.org