The Marriott Townhomes Suites was one of three hotels under construction in the city of Clovis in this 2018 file photo.
Written by Breanna Hardy
The City of Clovis has endured a tough year during the thick of the pandemic, but has shown elasticity as the business community grows into 2021.
Andy Haussler, community and economic development director for the City of Clovis, shared the vision for Clovis Wednesday morning during Wake Up Clovis, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce’s virtual meeting to discuss the City of Clovis’ growth over 2020 and opportunities for 2021.
Clovis started 2020 with a 3.1% unemployment rate, which Haussler said was the lowest record he could find in the history of the city.
Clovis’s unemployment rate shot up to 16% during the first shutdowns, but by December 2020, it was down to 6.7%.
“We still have a ways to go; we’ve made a ton of progress. We’ve seen a lot of unemployment drop off in Clovis for Clovis residents, but we’re not quite sure the full impact of this yet,” he said. “It’s going to be a long road ahead getting jobs back, getting vibrancy back into our community and across our country.”
But even through business struggles, Haussler highlighted the silver lining of 2020: the booming housing market.
“If you’ve got a house to sell, you are in the driver’s seat,” he said.
There has also been above average home building in Clovis, with 1,000 to 1,300 units per year, which has remained constant throughout the past year.
Part of what’s attractive about Clovis, Haussler said, is the safety of the city, the lower home prices in comparison to other parts of California, and the opportunity to do business.
Clovis sits in the top three among cities with more than 100,000 people for growth, putting them in competition with Irvine, Santa Clarita, Roseville and Folsom.
“We’re in the top echelon of desirable places in the state,” he said.
He said money has shifted incredibly fast in the economy since March 2020. But even through change in the business community, there has still been positive growth. The biggest hiccup was lack of marketing to new businesses due to the cancellation of events throughout the year.
Rich Mostert, director of Valley Community Small Business Development Center, said new small business activity is picking up.
“We are seeing upswings. We’re seeing about a 10-15% increase from the last six months, so fingers crossed it’s still moving.”
“It’s been really encouraging seeing people saying, ‘Well, I might as well start a business if I got laid off,’” Haussler said.
Clovis added Crumbl Cookies, Hobby Lobby and Aldi. Haussler also highlighted a new Starbucks and Arco near the new Loma Vista community in south Clovis, which will drive commercial development in the community.
“The council just approved a rezoning that will allow for a decent sized commercial center,” Haussler said. Some national tenants have shown interest in the commercial spaces, but Haussler could not disclose which companies were going to be moving in yet.
Clovis is also growing in manufacturing. Cabinet Connection just opened in the middle of 2020 and the council approved 400,000 square feet of industrial space.
Haussler also said they’ve made changes to the development code, which will allow fulfillment centers to operate out of “big box” spaces. National brands will start shifting toward online delivery, but they need warehouses to ship out of. The city is shifting to market spaces with this in mind; they’d like to offer retail spaces that will have the capabilities of using the back of the building as a warehouse to ship out of.
Two hotels are also new to Clovis: Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott will be breaking ground in the next couple weeks.
Haussler also mentioned that Fresno Yosemite International Airport will be welcoming Southwest Airlines, and he anticipates it affecting the county’s business community.
The reopening of schools will also welcome sports teams to hotels and restaurants, as well as events like Big Hat Days and the Clovis Rodeo.
Commercial space is being actively developed near Herndon and Willow avenues, and new development Heritage Grove will also be welcoming a new housing development by Lennar.. The entire development of the new community will span over the next one or two decades.
Haussler expressed that the city’s goal is to be an educator as businesses move through the ever-changing restrictions until the pandemic is eliminated. He hopes to stay a step ahead so that businesses can see improvements in the coming year.
At clovis4business.com, businesses can subscribe to emails for business updates as state and county restrictions change.
“We really had some astounding success from an economic perspective,” Haussler said. “We have been through the gauntlet this year, as a state, as a country, and I am so proud of how our community has stepped up.”