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State of the City American Canyon 2018

Mayor Leon Garcia speaks at the State of the City address Thursday morning at the DoubleTree Hotel, joined by Interim City Manager Jason Holley and County Supervisor Belia Ramos. 

Noel Brinkerhoff, Eagle

Attracting new businesses, higher paying jobs and more tourism to American Canyon are among key goals that the city will focus on in the coming year and beyond, it was announced Thursday morning at the annual State of the City address held at the DoubleTree Hotel.

A new economic development plan is in the works at City Hall, where the City Council has been getting consulting help from Cassandra Walker, a former longtime city of Napa official.

Walker, the retired community development director for Napa, briefly discussed the plan at the State of the City, saying the two communities share commonalty with respect to business development.

“There’s some great parallels” in what American Canyon is trying to do, “and where you’re going.”

Walker likened American Canyon’s attempt to revitalize and reshape its Broadway District — the areas along Highway 29 — with what Napa started 20 years ago after embarking on its ambitious flood control project.

Napa now enjoys new economic life downtown as a result of reduced flooding along the Napa River, she said, and American Canyon can, too, from multiple plans being crafted.

One of those plans is a strategic blueprint for expanding commercial growth and creating new kinds of employment that will reduce the need for residents to commute out of town for work.

The plan is centered around four goals intended to:

  • Create jobs that pay living wages
  • Realign retail expectations
  • Capture more tourism dollars
  • Create a business environment that retains and attracts desirable businesses.

How the city accomplishes all of these goals is still being crafted.

But the City Council is expected to consider sometime in early 2018 “a specific program of measurable actions” that will further each goal, according to a booklet handed out at the State of the City.

The city is moving in the right direction, according to Walker, who remarked: “Clearly American Canyon has come a long way in the last few years in terms of defining where it wants to go and setting a standard for that.”

She pointed out recent examples of successful commercial developments, such as the Napa Junction shopping centers and Napa Logistics Park, which will soon host an IKEA distribution center.

Walker also noted that the Broadway District plan and the proposed Watson Ranch project — in addition to bringing more homes and businesses — would offer transportation improvements to ease traffic congestion.

The Broadway plan includes plans to widen the highway to six lanes, while Watson Ranch calls for extending Rio Del Mar eastward and Newell Drive to the north.

“You have some very sound planning behind you in terms of these two documents,” said Walker, referring to Broadway and Watson Ranch.

“Everything is positive looking forward in terms of where American Canyon can go,” she concluded.