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The importance of a downtown
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I will be the first to admit, I am really big on downtowns.

I remember as a young boy going with my sisters to the downtown cinema in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to watch the latest Disney movie at the Saturday matinee. My mother would drop us off, do some shopping, and then pick us up when the movie was over. That was certainly another time! It was quite the experience, and I remember how excited I used to be to go downtown. I remember going to the old Montgomery Wards to shop for clothes. And I remember taking strolls as a family along the Snake River next to the falls. Downtown is what gives any community its identity. It's the living room of your community.

We are blessed in Stanislaus County to have some incredible downtowns. I have made a point to visit them all. Some are further along than others. But what each city has in common is a great core and many opportunities for improvement. If you think about making good impressions to potential investors, think about your downtown. That's what people see first.

When I visited Stanislaus County to interview for this job, I stayed in downtown Modesto. What I saw was a fabulous hotel, a downtown cinema, several great restaurants, a wonderful library, a very interesting mansion/museum, an exceptional performing arts venue, and a very interesting and eclectic theater. I certainly saw some challenges, but I tend to focus more on the opportunities than the challenges. What I saw, as many of you have seen, is a downtown that has all the core elements to become something great.

I have spent time in downtown Turlock. I had a burger at the Dust Bowl Brewery. Turlock deserves a lot of credit for their charming downtown. I have been in downtowns in Ceres, Hughson, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Waterford and Newman. All have interesting and developing downtowns. If we could all do something to help improve our communities it would be to support our downtowns. And that's what I intend to do. The first rule of economic development is to build from within.