Shrugging off a weak recovery and some bad press, Oxnard, the region’s biggest city, is moving ahead with its rebranding effort.
On July 12 the Oxnard Conventions & Visitors Bureau will present its long-term vision for Oxnard, its brand and future tourism promotion to the City Council. The presentation caps years of work by a number of organizations to get Oxnard’s identity up to 21st century standards.
Included are 49 specific recommendations to rebrand the city as an attractive travel destination with significant coastal assets, a proud heritage of international culture and a lifestyle that is archetypically California.
To get the brand effort to this stage, Bureau Executive Director Janet Sederquist has assembled an impressive coalition including the Chamber of Commerce, Channel Islands Harbor, EDCO, Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay Resort, the downtown management district and city community development office.
Over the years, Oxnard has been fighting an uphill battle for its image. It has been tagged in the headlines for its gang problems, housing prices have suffered and a district attorney’s investigation into contracting practices has been simmering just below the surface.
But Oxnard has made significant progress, too. Its downtown is in the early stages of revitalization with restaurants, a movie theater complex and new shops. Its agribusiness sector is booming, and with Gills Onions and others leading the way, agriculture is becoming more and more focused on sustainable practices.
Which brings us to another factor long overlooked in Oxnard’s image-building effort. The city has cleaned up its beaches, it has built new attractive housing and it has the kind of business-friendly approach that ought to make it a showcase for a new California comeback.
Oxnard’s brand-building effort is more than just a way to get tourists headed to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo off Highway 101 for a day or an evening. It is about the future of the biggest municipality in our region — jobs, housing prices and retail investment all depend on the confidence of employers and store owners to invest in the city.
The bottom line on Sederquist and her quest is that a relatively small investment in brand building for Oxnard could return millions of dollars in dividends as the California recovery continues.