Reader: How Stockton could court Google

Reader James Estrada writes:

“It was very exciting to hear the Google barge came to Stockton. When the rumor first floated I thought, “Port of Stockton should jump all over this and offer them a berth immediately.”  I’m glad they did. The Stockton Record articles enumerated many of the good reasons why this lifts Stockton’s profile dramatically.  Now comes the next part.
“The entire city should think about how to maximize the positives with this famous guest.  The overall theme should be, “It’s Time to Roll Out The Red Carpet”.  Keeping in mind that old saying that,  you only have ONE chance to make a first impression, here are three areas to think about:  Asparagus Festival,  City Government and Local Cultural and Tourist Destinations.
“Let’s take Google’s statement that they wish to enjoy some warmer weather and taste the asparagus.  The Asparagus Festival board should hold meetings right away to discuss how to welcome the Google barge people AND the Silicon Valley Google people as well to come and enjoy the festival. 
“Free passes! These should be carte blanche cards that allow free food at one or more of the food tents and also some free beverages or desserts. Google should be asked if they are interested in showing off some of their new Google gear—like the Google Glasses?  Can you see them in their own marketing tent?  Would Google consider becoming a financial sponsor of the Festival for just this year or maybe even future years?  Tell them we need that and proceeds go to local charities. 
“The Stockton Convention and Visitors Bureau should hold a cocktail party at the festival to welcome Googlers to town.  Turn on the charm offensive and treat these famous guests with best foot forward treatment.  Some music inside that tent?  Sounds like fun.  Don’t forget to make it sound fun to the Google people so that they will want to come and check it out.  Ask the Google people who their favorite bands are and try to squeeze one or two of these into the festival.  Start twitters to them and keep up the charm.”
“Stockton city leaders should host a meet and greet with as many Google higher ups as can be convinced to come. Both barge and company headquarters. If past experience in San Francisco is any indication, they might send only a lower level representative but that should not deter local leaders from bending their ears on ideas such as:  Stockton would love to see Google wire the entire city or county with a fiber optic network as they have done experimentally in other parts of the U.S.  Google has paid for these just to try out their high-tech might. 
“Make the case that Stockton, which has literacy and education problems, could lift up its students with a resource like that.  South Stockton should not be left out of this certainly. Perhaps Google would like to donate some school gear, infrastructure and educational tools to the schools—possibly even remodeling some of the poorer ones. 
“And, the fiber-optic network would become a selling point to businesses wishing to find a place where they can be very productive.  Would Google consider more teaching of how to create web sites either on the barge or some other location they favor. This should be done for both businesses, web entrepeneurs and students still in school.  Stockton should try to present this and make the case at the Bay Area headquarters too, if the meeting can be set.
“Law enforcement might like to talk to them about placing more Shot-Spotter units or some area-wide surveillance cameras to help the city keep its crime down. 
“Furthermore, the city should make concrete efforts to show the richness of life in Stockton by producing a video of the area’s attractions, its needs and its favorable placement in California geography, centrally located as it is. Demonstrate the widely unknown phenomenon of the Stockton Deep-Water Channel and Port.  There are even people in Modesto who don’t know that “we have a port in Stockton that connects to San Francisco.”  Take them on a full tour of the Port.   
“The city should point out that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy this year and we would, as San Francisco has done, be willing to consider targeted tax-breaks for Google that would encourage them to locate some of their branch units here. They should be invited to use some of our wide open spaces to develop their ongoing experiments such as self-driving cars and robotics.  Stockton City Government, in short, should make it plain that we would love to talk to them about any type of partnership or experiment they wish to discuss.
 The University of Pacific, the Haggin Museum, Lodi Wine Country, the Visitors and Convention Bureau, the University Plaza Hotel, Local Country Clubs, local businesses, forward-looking agriculturalists and other cultural assets such as the Civic Theater, area civic clubs and many others should prepare ways to extend privileges and entertainment to the Googlers.
“Ag can show that innovation is needed in agriculture too.  Deploy crop and water-monitoring electronics here?  Think of free passes, discount cards and coupons. Welcoming receptions and so on should be offered freely.  Remember that this opportunity will only happen once and briefly so Stockton must keep the red carpet always in view. Area restaurants should offer meals and show the beauty of the dining opportunities. Garlic Brothers, Wine and Roses, BJs, Downtown Lodi, Downtown Stockton, Waterfront and others should demonstrate that they are fine places to dine. 
“University of Pacific should find ways to welcome Google. Free first-run movie tickets in our theaters.  The Haggin Museum can host  a gathering featuring a Google speaker to speak about the future and possibly even present a Google exhibition of tech wonders. 
“Don’t forget about the possibility of learning how to make mailings and deliveries directly to the Google barge to send them free gifts. For this we need their address at the Port.  A van pulls up to the security entrance of the barge, the driver gets out and announces he has a delivery for the barge—then the free goodies are unloaded into the custody of the Googlers.  Samples of area wares, pizzas, wine, local novelties, deli-foods, a food-truck event there at the barge and maybe a band right there, though not too loud so that it disrupts their workers. 
“The local yacht club and other boaters should find ways to interest Googlers in boating the waterways, event free or low-cost use of watercraft. Fishing boats to take them out fishing.  Free tickets to the Stockton Symphony?  The headquarters offices in the Bay Area should be invited to all of this as well.
 ”Finally, we should not do what always results in failure:  that is, just sit around and wait or, just wait around and hope.  That won’t get it done.  All they can say is no, but if we make it attractive enough, they will remember us favorably and tell our story back home.  And, it’s not too much of a wound to pride to ask for something after all this.  Invite them to return.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the expression goes.”
I agree in the main with Estrada: leadership means taking the bull by the horns and attempting to build upon Google’s presence.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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