A recent survey of Pleasanton business leaders showed that they like doing business here, they and their employees like Pleasanton schools, like living here and appreciate the ambiance and quality of life of our community.
In fact about the only place where they think the city government could do better is to soften the rules and regulations and the permitting process where their perception is that it just takes too long to get things done.
They would also like to see local government become more aggressive in encouraging more businesses to move here and to work more intensely in keeping businesses in Pleasanton.
Three businesses come to mind: Polycom moved its headquarters and workforce from Hacienda Business Park to a new and vacant multi-story corporate center on Highway 237 just south of Milpitas; Robert Half Jr. moved its headquarters and most of its staff to Bishop Ranch and Ross Stores will move out of the nearly vacant California Center (formerly called CarrAmerica) to new and empty buildings in Dublin. There are reasons for these moves. Generally the companies needed more space to consolidate their workforces and couldn't find it in Pleasanton.
Still, nine out of 10 business leaders said they are happy with their location, finding Pleasanton an excellent or good place to do business. In particular, they cited the city's central location, which provides access to regional markets, and friendly people, as businesses said they feel supported by the community. In addition, they rated the city's infrastructure and services as good, with the sole exception of entertainment options. In this regard, it appears the bustling nightlife along First Street in Livermore is fast-becoming the Tri-Valley's favorite.
A summary of the survey lists six major categories where business leaders could list their comments ranging from Excellent to Poor with Fair and Good in between. The categories included "Assessment of Pleasanton's Infrastructure" with sub-sets of roads, telecommunications services, public transportation, electric utility services and water and sewer services. All received Good responses.
Also rated Good were city amenities, including recreational activities and community events. Public safety was rated Excellent, along with Community Beautification and Property Appearance Standards, and business leaders also rated the city staff excellent in terms of being courteous, helpful, fair and responsive to their needs.
The surveys of Pleasanton business leaders were conducted over the past year as part of the city's Economic Vitality Committee and City Council's work plan. Two business focus groups were held at Pleasanton-based Amplify Research, with representatives recruited using the city's business licensing listing. Companies participating included a variety of businesses from small to large and representing more than 99% of the city's business population. Feedback from the focus groups was then used in a telephone survey.
With regard to business recruitment, the surveys took place during the period that Clorox Corp. chose to move much of its workforce from its headquarters in Oakland to a six-building corporate complex near Hopyard Road and Stoneridge Drive that had been vacated two years earlier when Washington Mutual closed its call center there and went out of business.
A second large business, Workday, again encouraged by City Manager Nelson Fialho and Economic Development Director Pamela Ott, decided against relocating to San Ramon and will soon move into a larger corporate center on Stoneridge Mall Road.
The survey also created a baseline of data points for use in future surveys to identify new and changing trends in the Pleasanton business community. This will help those with vital interests in business recruitment and retention, including City Hall, the City Council, the Economic Vitality Committee and business organizations such as the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Pleasanton Downtown Association and Hacienda Owners Association.