Candidate Sojka’s Economy Bolstering Programs Approved

Sojka delivers Business Advocate, Business Roundtable for City

Pro-business ‘Vision’ adopted by City Council as part of 2010-11 balanced budget

SIMI VALLEY – Simi Valley City Councilman Steve Sojka announces approval of two of his proposals to bolster the local economy in Simi Valley. The addition of a Business Advocate and Business Roundtable for the City of Simi Valley were included as part of the Council’s approval of the fiscal 2010-11 Budget on June 21.

“Even though I can say we are more business friendly than we were 12 years ago, we are not where we need to be,” said Sojka, the leading candidate for Mayor of Simi Valley in the November election. “This is a step toward where we need to be.

“It comes down to streamlining the process, which creates jobs, and more jobs creates a better local economy, which creates a better City budget.”

The Council on Monday approved, as part of the budget for the Community Development Agency, a Business Advocate. This senior management analyst position would focus purely on assisting any business existing or planning to open in Simi Valley with any necessary action such as proposed improvements, relocating here, or application processes.

The Council also concurred on Steve Sojka’s proposal to form a Business Roundtable to bring together businesses that already have gone through City processes, along with City administrators, management and even the City Attorney’s office if necessary to discuss processes and the needs of Simi Valley businesses small, medium or large.

“In tough budget times, it is good to have a vision,” Sojka said, “and that vision is to support, supply, promote and create jobs. With these actions, the City has greatly enhanced its connection to, and liaison with, the local business community,” Sojka said.

The Business Advocate position becomes effective July 1. The Business Roundtable will return to the Council for further discussion in coming weeks.

“I think it’s awesome. Anything the City can do to help a business get through the red tape is a great thing,” said Darrell Coletto, owner of the First Auto Group, a prominent auto dealership in Simi Valley. “The sooner we can help businesses grow and expand, and hire employees, and increase the City’s sales tax revenue and boost the local economy, the better.

“If we can get that done, then these are great ideas,” he said.

Coletto applauded the proactive pro-business actions by Sojka, who currently serves as Chairman of the City’s Small Business Advisory Committee which is responsible for the Shop Simi Valley First campaign.

Steve Sojka is a three-term Simi Valley City Council member, starting in 1998, who twice served one-year shifts as Mayor Pro Tem. A lifetime resident of Simi Valley, he has been a business owner and active community volunteer and leader in Simi Valley for the past 25 years. His father Bob Sojka was Chief of the Simi Valley Police Department; and today Steve Sojka proudly serves on the Board of Directors for the Simi Valley Police Foundation. Sojka and his wife Laura have three children in Simi Valley schools.

Steve Sojka is endorsed for Simi Valley Mayor by current Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller; Council members Glen Becerra, Michelle Foster and Barbra Williamson; former Mayors Bill Davis, Ginger Gherardi and Ted Grandsen; former City Council member and County Supervisor Vicky Howard; former City Council members Nancy Bender, Dave Reese and Howard Rogo; Simi Valley Board of Education President Jeanne Davis and Trustees Janice DiFatta and Eric Lundstrom; former Simi Valley School Board members Carla Kurachi, Judy Barry and Steven Gould; Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board members Gene Hostetler, Mark Johnson and Dee Dee Cavanaugh and former Park District Board member Jim Meredith; Simi Valley Planning Commissioners Mike McGuigan, Tim Shannon and Jim Dantona, Jr.; and former Commissioners Rick Kunz and Bob Swoish.

Sojka also is endorsed by dozens of other leaders from community organizations representing police, education, business and youth sports and services interests. For a complete listing visit www.sojkaformayor.com.

8 thoughts on “Candidate Sojka’s Economy Bolstering Programs Approved

  1. These are very good concepts and were received well by the City Council that night – as well as by the business community, at least as indicated by the business owner comment included in the release.

    Hats off to Steve Sojka and the Council for including these as part of the budget. It’s good to see action and not just talk or promises. Surprised this slipped by the print newspapers, as the business community no doubt would want to know this information.

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  2. Shouldn’t the the headline of this article be “City approves spending $135,000 a year on another beaurocrat to help business work through red tape they created?”

    This is just the latest example of how out of touch our governement is. As a business owner, I find it offensive and absurd that our City would spend $135,000 a year plus benefits on another government program to show people how to find their way through the all the red tape and obstacles THEY created.

    Heres a novel idea……..REMOVE the obstacles and save the $135,000! Stop pandering during election season and actually make it EASIER for us to grow and expand our business here in town.

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  3. It’s not just about so-called “red tape.” Almost every business, regardless whether this City is among the best at the process or not, will complain about having to do anything to open or operate. If you ask those who run businesses in more than one city, most will say Simi Valley’s is among the best. If you disagree, go open shop in Moorpark and report back. Have your checkbook with you and make sure you have plenty of checks. See you in three to five years when you finally open.

    These new Simi Valley programs will provide someone, an ombudsman if you will, to listen to business owners and ascertain trends or broad areas that impact many businesses, analyze issues from a cost-benefit standpoint, and be able to convey clearly to the City Council areas that need improvement, or at least areas where more than one business is complaining.

    The advocate (ombudsman) will always be available for new businesses coming to town, which is extremely important and indicates to new businesses that this City takes it so seriously that they have assigned someone just to help them open. Expediting businesses opening in Simi Valley is worth the investment of $135,000, if indeed that’s the cost, from the Community Development Agency budget – which exists these exact purposes (create jobs) and does not impact the general fund.

    Just two or three new businesses opening per year will easily cover the cost.

    The Business Roundtable can become an example for every municipality in California. This is where businesses that already have gone through the process can work elbow-to-elbow with city administrators and officials to explain precisely where the trouble areas are, and offer suggestions on how to improve them. Heck, the Roundtable can even ask to host a Town Hall meeting if need be.

    Cutting all “red tape” and then doing nothing afterward is a Utopian concept. Believers do not think businesses need building codes or environmental health codes to ensure the safety of not only the general public but their own employees. Believers just want all the “red tape” removed, to pay $0 in fees and not have any permits to deal with. When you find a municipality that offers this utopia, Paul F, please report back because that would be tremendous news. We can forward your information to the Wall Street Journal.

    Of course, businesses in your Utopia still will have to deal with other government agencies that cause delays and costs, such as the state ABC, or the Franchise Tax Board.

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  4. The Assistant City Manager for Business Development’s main job is attracting large employers to town. Someone always should be assigned to that when big companies inquire about the community. These processes can commend a considerable amount of time, sometimes lasting years before a company relocates here. This person should always be cognizant of available land, its zoning, and existing vacant commercial buildings in town (and the excellent staffer who holds this position does all of this very well). It is a vital role, but separate from consistently helping existing local businesses or even businesses that have already decided to locate here but would like some hand-holding through the process.

    The Economic Development Office, by the way, was created upon the suggestion of City Councilman Steve Sojka.

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  5. At bottom is a true statement, but the fixing aspect will not begin if business owners do not explain it to the City. It’s an example why a Business Advocate and Business Roundtable are great ideas. Kudos to Steve Sojka for driving it.

    Too often, situations such as this occur, and the business owner involved just complains about it to friends or colleagues. With a Business Advocate to call to investigate, or a Business Roundtable to attend and convey these situations clearly to a panel filled with other business owners, there are direct lines of communication to a person or a panel with clear responsibilities to listen, investigate and respond.

    “A local business onwer who opened a location told me they were told different things by different staff. These interpretations were often conflicting. There are rules, likely too many, that are being enforced differently by differnt staff. This is what needs to be fixed…all rules interpreted consistently and quickly. If we could do this, we might be able to even reduce staff, not hire more.”

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