Follow-Up File: Grover aims to boost local businesses

Name: Bob Perrault

Job: City manager, Grover Beach

What they said then:

In June 2009, The Tribune focused on Grover Beach’s development of programs to stimulate the city’s economy.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we help with small-business owners and encourage people to shop at local stores?’ ” said Mayor John Shoals. “We don’t want to see empty storefronts in our business corridor.”

At the time, officials proposed a purchasing program that would give preference to businesses located within the city if bids are within 5 percent of the lowest.

“We’re planning to put forward the programs as soon as they can be rolled out,” said City Manager Bob Perrault.

The city accepted $10,000 from Rabobank’s Community Reinvestment Act program and matched it. The funds were expected to go to small-business grants.

What he says now:

A variety of programs have been operating this year to encourage spending at companies in the city, Perrault said.

“Most of the businesses in Grover Beach, with few exceptions, are family owned and sole proprietorships,” added the city manager. “If you’re located here, you’re hopefully employing local people.”

The Rabobank grant paid for a spring seminar to help small-business owners learn to plan, market and network. Organized with the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County, the seminar drew representatives of more than 40 local businesses.

The remaining grant money went to businesses affected by the Grand Avenue Enhancement Area summer construction.

Through two programs for property owners, the city encourages residents to hire local home repair services or to convert to drought-tolerant landscaping.

So far, 13 income-eligible homeowners received loans between $10,000 and $15,000 for re-roofing, plumbing or painting through the Home Repair Loan Program. The Cash for Grass Program has reimbursed 11 property owners an average of $450 for replacing water-thirsty vegetation.

A consumer program called Shop and Dine Grover Beach encourages people to patronize its 74 participating businesses. Each sale earns a sticker on an entry card. Getting 10 stickers earns a spot in a monthly drawing for a $50 certificate good at member businesses.

Those certificates, the costs of which are covered by the city, have totaled more than $7,500 since mid-2009.

Starting with 60 members, the program peaked at 100, but some of those businesses have since closed, Perrault said. Remaining members persuaded the council to extend it through June 2011.

“At least an average of 100 cards come in every month,” Perrault said. “We made it pretty broad to include services as well as retail.”

— Raven J. Railey