National City Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Chad Matkowski presented an economic recovery plan in a marathon city council meeting Tuesday that suggested hope is on the horizon as the area begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matkowski said the economic recovery plan encompasses five areas of targeted growth: a new National City Chamber of Commerce website, dubbed the NCCC site and intended solely for business outreach, a new Discover National City website focusing on the culture and heritage of National City, collated reopening resources, plans to develop a tourism district; and planned job fairs.
Employment statistics show that 292 out of the 899 positions recently listed locally on traditional hiring websites qualify as ‘teen’or entry-level positions, Matkowski said, an untenable situation for local residents who are looking for higher-level positions close to home. The new NCCC site would aggregate local job listings at every level.
A significantly higher number of local applicants are found through local sites, he said, compared to when jobs are listed on national sites like LinkedIn or Indeed and ultimately end up with 57% local hires filling those jobs.
In addition to helping locals identify higher-level jobs, he said, pushing local positions to area residents supports the goal of making National City a more walkable community with fewer commuter cars on the road.
“With about 80% of those local hires happening within a five-mile radius when they apply through a local site such as the one we’ll be using, that would be a difference of 4,000 vehicles reducing emissions each year,” Matkowski said.
A second website, already purchased as www.discovernationalcity.com will “focus on the culture and heritage of National City,” Matkowski said.
With a strong focus on search engine optimization, the new site will push out localized content to anyone searching for information on National City, Matkowski said, and gave the example of a tourist searching for travel information by using external sites such as Trip Advisor which lists three hotels but does not reflect nightlife or scheduled events in the area around those hotels.
“We’re going to help brand National City by getting citizens involved, writing endorsements for restaurants and hotels. The city will be able to promote any of their events on this site, things happening in the city, at the Port, at Plaza Bonita. We also looked at the MTS Eat-Shop-Play program and this would be the perfect platform to promote something like that,” Matkowski said.
Eat-Shop-Play is a Metropolitan Transit Service program intended to help some neighborhoods in San Diego county recover from shutdowns due to the pandemic by offering discounts and promotions to transit riders, with the potential to earn a free monthly pass; National City is one locale featured in the promotion.
Besides restaurant listings and promotions, Matkowski said the social site could also include cannabis listings “for the city and us to be able to control information” in addition to other recreational information.
The chamber also plans to partner with local restaurants with an eye on reaching food-lovers while also addressing traffic patterns, how visitors access local businesses and generally making the city more enticing.
“We kind of want to position it as a foodie haven… we want to make it a megaphone to attract new businesses to National City,” Matkowski said.
Leveraging the reach of a one-stop website featuring local restaurant and tourist information is a wise move, Matkowski said, a form of “collaborative advertising and branding since many restaurants won’t have money for advertising” as they come out of COVID.
That ties in with the final point of the plan: regular job fairs featuring South Bay and National City businesses where employers are free to attend and solicit applicants who would ostensibly live locally and ultimately become area homeowners.