• STREAMLINE REGULATIONS. John Duarte, president of Duarte Nursery in Hughson, said the biggest hurdle facing ag businesses such as his is too much regulation. But that comes mostly from the state and federal level, not local government, Duarte said.
"I don't want an air quality regulator, a water regulator, an OSHA regulator," Duarte said. "We don't need different bureaucracies throughout the state with their own fleets of Ford Tauruses and inspectors."
• PROVIDE BETTER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Blake Steward, senior vice president of human resources at Pacific Southwest Container in the Beard Industrial District, said more bus lines would help his company hire more people.
"When there's good public transportation, it gives people who would otherwise not even apply for a job here the opportunity to consider us as a potential employer," Steward said. "There are people who don't have their own transportation, but they can still add a lot of value to a company and they are employable. But they have to be able to get to work. If they had access to public transportation, I know that would make it easier for some people."
• PROVIDE LOANS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. Becky Shokraii, human resources manager at Dot Foods, says she'd like to see local governments provide loans to small businesses.
"If you look at some of our strip malls, there are vacancies," Shokraii said. "But if you think about times of economic downturn, it's a great time for people to take that growth and run with it, if they have the means to do that.
"If you think about Steve Jobs and the computer industry, that's when they started. It's not like they had money; they found somebody to take the pitch."
• BUY LOCAL, NOT CORPORATE. This idea applies more to consumers than governments. Mike Nelson, owner of Mike's Roadhouse bar and grill on Dale Road, said he worries most about competition from national chains.
"People always ask me why there aren't more Mike's Roadhouses. It's because of corporate America. You've got Chili's, you've got Chevys, Applebee's.
"I don't know what the city can do other than just come together as a city and promote within. Buy local. I really believe in that and I do that myself, but I don't think a lot of people really respect that."
• NOTHING. "I don't see anything that the city can do that would affect my business directly," said Steve Mort, chief executive officer for Don's Mobile Glass.
He said his company takes advantage of incentives offered in Stanislaus County's enterprise zone, where businesses get tax rebates when they hire people or buy new equipment.
"I don't have a magic bullet that says if (the city) did this, I could hire 10 people," Mort said, noting that state and county regulations seem more onerous than the city's rules. "I think the city is doing a pretty good job. My impression is that the City Council and the city management is doing a good job as far as making the city user-friendly."
-- Leslie Albrecht