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Success comes with hard work and cooperation Chris Zapata | Sat, Jun 18 2011 12:00 PM

With its prime location National City has the highest producing business base in San Diego County. Business sales make National City the king with per person sales revenue consistently the highest among 17 neighboring cities year after year. To ensure we strengthen our position, business leaders and elected officials continue to work diligently. With existing and major new projects opening we are creating needed jobs and investment necessary for a brighter future along our southern boundary - the key state Highway 54 corridor.

On or adjacent to state Highway 54 are two regional economic powerhouses and a couple of new ones developing. From the newly expanded Plaza Bonita mall in National City to the new Pier 32 Marina this area is buzzing. Plaza Bonita mall is booming as a result of Westfield's $134 million investment which added 46 new stores including AMC theaters and the new Target.

Pier 32 Marina, which is the latest boating facility built by the Port of San Diego, boasts several features including the Waterfront Grille restaurant, 241 boat slips and other world class amenities. These projects have been enjoyed by our residents over the past 18 months. But there is more coming to our city including a Mor's furniture store - no pun intended.

When the national economy tanked a few years back, many major corporations declared bankruptcy including two with a local presence - Mervyn's and Circuit City. Both had a large presence on the 54 corridor. Circuit City was a significant revenue generator for National City and adjacent businesses.

Thanks to a push from the National City Police Department we learned that one of the largest furniture stores in San Diego County was very interested in this empty site. Acting on that tip, successful work began to recruit Mor's furniture store to our community in this key location. Seeking a prime site and agreeing to locate in National City has resulted in the revamping and replacement of one big box retailer with the first Mor's furniture store in the South Bay.

Economic stalwarts such as the Mile of Cars will see new neighbors as National City and Chula Vista work with the private sector to create jobs and excitement at the former 25-acre drive-in site. Sudberry Development Corporation, one of the finest developers in California, has taken the lead to bring an additional big box retail store, one-of-a-kind fast food development and stores to National City as well as a large business for Chula Vista. This project has been in the works for more than six years and is a true partnership between land owners, businesses, the developer and two cities.

Working together to welcome investment and jobs is the right approach and necessary as the 25-acre site is split almost equally between National City and Chula Vista. The location at the 54 intersection with National City Boulevard will create additional visits and potential buyers at the Mile of Cars which is our other regional economic engine.

Even in the best of times, economic development is challenging, even when a city has a great location and business friendly environment. Businesses expand and locate with help from many sources such as access to capital, market demand and a ready labor force.

Local government can do its part as well to encourage new investment. In National City we have assisted the business community with aggressive programs such as loaning funds for three freeway signs, marketing and partnerships with our Chamber of Commerce.

As we navigate the worst economy in memory it becomes even more important to work together to plan and improve National City for residents, visitors and investors. Stay tuned next month for more city and development news.

Zapata is the National City city manager.

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