The one-block section of 11th Street from I to J generates almost $400,000 a year in sales tax revenue, and most bartenders downtown can work part-time and bring in an additional $25,000 a year. Downtown has the potential to be a vibrant economic engine for growth, and the time has come for the city to recognize that Modesto simply is not a sleepy Central Valley drive-through town any more.
Downtown would benefit from additional infrastructure and an aggressive plan for public safety. Rather than investing in a framework for these improvements, government complains about the costs involved. Modesto is already at the center of entertainment from Stockton to Merced, from the Sierra west to Concord. We have amazing festivals and events for all ages and interests, from the Art and Wine Festival to X-Fest, from the Kiwanis car parade to the amazing bicycle race our city just confirmed. We also have clubs, theaters and movie complexes providing entertainment every night of the week.
We should build on this momentum and create a vision of the future for our entertainment district. We should continue to invest in security for downtown by financing our police presence and creating a vehicle, perhaps within the Convention and Visitors Bureau, for smart growth and to fortify our position as the entertainment and dining hub of the valley.
I am proud to live in Modesto, and I'm proud of all the entertainment community has done to contribute to the community's well-being. Downtown businesses have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to safety, following the rules and providing the exciting, creative downtown that Modesto deserves.
I hope the City Council can continue work with the downtown entertainment district to develop a strategy to help this new industry as it seeks to grow and provide something for everyone.
Ricci is president of Chris Ricci Presents and promoter of a number of major events, including X-Fest.