Business leaders and local residents gathered Tuesday morning for Murrieta’s annual State of the City address held at Bear Creek Country Club.
The remarks were delivered by Mayor Rick Gibbs who touted the city’s steady advancement as one of America’s safest cities with beautiful parks, growing families and stellar first responder services.
“All the ingredients for success are here in Murrieta,” Gibbs said, showcasing the vision for the city in the coming year.
Speaking off-script and intermingling personal stories of hard-working, innovative citizens, Gibbs noted that the goal to attract and retain local jobs stems in part from recognizing the economic challenges faced by the city and its residents.
“We are operating very lean at City Hall,” Gibbs said, noting that Murrieta has felt the sting of the economic downturn.
Revenue and expenditures of $32 million in 2011/12 are down from $43 million in 2007/08, Gibbs said.
There are things to feel good about, though.
Mayor Gibbs said: “Housing is coming back and it’s a competitive market here (in Murrieta).”
The average price of a home in Murrieta is $294,000 – a 12 percent increase in the last year.
Noting that 66 percent of Murrieta residents commute to their jobs in San Diego, Anaheim and surrounding cities, Gibbs said: “Everything we do has to be about creating jobs here.”
“We hope we will see a growth of medical related industries here,” Gibbs said. “I want (Murrieta) to be like Rancho Bernardo, who reached out to overseas companies like Nokia and Sony to bring local jobs.”
Among the targeted industries that Gibbs said the city must attract are Bio Science, pharmaceutical, medical device, national security and informational technology companies.
“We also need a four-year university in the area where we look for ways to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Gibbs said, adding that higher education is a regional concern that must be addressed.
“If we’re going to compete for jobs, we have to be just as smart and just as (savvy) as our global competitors,” he said.
Guest speakers Fred Latuperissa, Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce and J. Adalberto Quijada, District Director with U.S. Small Business Administration echoed Gibbs’ call for growing local business and job opportunities.
To help achieve these goals, the city has established a professional networking association with such organizations as BIOCOM, SoCal BIO, San Diego CONNECT, the MIT Forum of San Diego, the San Diego World Trade Center, the San Diego Venture Group, Tech Coast Angels and OCTANE.
Remembering the region’s earliest days, a time when Murrieta and its surrounding ranching communities were populated by more sheep and cows than people, Gibbs said that the modern economy requires growth towards entrepreneurialism and innovation.
Gibbs said: “We want to be a place that attracts smart people who want to be around other smart people. We want to live in a culture that supports groundbreaking ideas. We fully intend to become an entrepreneurial start-up, job machine (in this community).”
A second State of the City address is slated for this evening at 7 p.m. at City Hall in Murrieta.
For more information visit, www.murrieta.org.
Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at Southwest Riverside News Network. She can be reached at email@example.com.