Needles, CA: The Needles Nugget — By Elaine Cullen.

Happy New Year Needles!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday and 2012 has started off positively for everyone!  We have some great opportunities and a few challenges awaiting us this year and I am very excited to work with all of you as we move forward to address both.

First, I want to personally thank the volunteers, business owners, city staff and local organizations who helped with the Olde Fashioned Christmas event.  The camaraderie, enthusiasm and “can do” attitude was evident from beginning to end, and your efforts resulted in an event the entire community is proud of.  We have received nothing but positive feedback! The regional radio exposure we received from My Radio Central and KJJJ before and during the event was a tremendous boost to our outside marketing efforts!  And of course, thank you to the great entertainers, vendors and parade participants!

I want to express my appreciation to those who attended the Chamber of Commerce’s membership luncheon last month; I enjoyed meeting more business leaders in the community and fellow Chamber members.  Thanks to Jeff Williams and Sue Godnick for giving me the opportunity to speak to the group.

Last month I met with Needles High School seniors to conduct the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats) just as we did with the local community.  They have a better insight than you might think; once again, local gas prices were chided.  They are also well aware of the economic downturn and how their hometown has declined over the years.  They have concerns about the large number in the local community receiving public assistance, and they would like to see amenities such as a movie theater and more water-related events/activities.  The students also feel regular beach clean-ups are needed, and some were ready to volunteer to help with those efforts.

I will be making a presentation to the Mayor and City Council at the regular meeting on January 24th giving the results of all the SWOT meetings and potential options for moving forward.  (Any future undertakings will be at the Councils’ discretion and will not be decided at this meeting).  I invite all of you to attend –  your continued input and support will be critical to our success!  Let’s fill the Council Chambers with a show of support for the overall betterment of the City for our residents and businesses!  The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m.

We all know local job growth is a necessary part of any economic recovery.  That entails not only attracting new companies, but supporting our existing businesses so they can grow, as well.  Marketing using social media is here to stay, and provides companies access to literally a “world” of customers.  Facebook provides low or no-cost advertising solutions, and in many ways can replace the expense of maintaining a website.

To support that effort, the City has arranged for a FREE seminar for our business community – “How to Use Social Media to Market Your Business”.  Residents can also attend; the focus is business marketing but you will also learn about social media in general.  You DO NOT need to bring your laptop.  Eden Rudin, owner of The Social Garden, will teach the class; she is a small business owner who started using social media in early 2008 and quickly realized the positive impact that “going social” had on her bottom line.  Eden will explain a variety of the benefits resulting from the use of social media to grow your business and cover several popular social sites; the emphasis will be on using Facebook and its ease and value.  Note your calendars now for Wednesday, January 18th from 9am – 11am at Juicy’s River Café.  Thanks to Mike Bradley for providing the class space!  (Attendees are responsible for any food/drink).  Please RSVP by January 11th (or submit any questions) to Elaine.Needles@gmail.com.

I want to remind you that Readers Digest is once again sponsoring the “We Hear You America” contest.  It’s easy to register, and you can vote as many times as you want every day!  The contest goes until March 1 and winning cities get money for specific projects. As I write this, Needles is in 8th place with 227,500 votes, which puts us on the outside edge to win $10,000!  We need as many votes as possible to maintain the $10,000 spot.  If everyone commits to voting 30 minutes/day (even two 15-minute sessions), we might make it.  How much easier does it get to support your community – you don’t have to leave home and it doesn’t cost anything!  Go to http://www.ReadersDigest.com/America to register and vote today!  For you i-phone & Droid users, you can download the app and vote from your phone.  Cathy McConnell, Dennis Kramer, Darrell Shurtz and fellow Mustang Alumni are leading the charge – PLEASE support this major local effort to improve and benefit YOUR city!

Lastly, here’s a great annual event you’ll want to get on your schedule now!  The 4th Annual Route 66 Hot Boats & Custom Car Show is confirmed for February 24-26th at the beautiful Jack Smith Park.  This three-day annual event includes a golf tournament, parade and Bar B-Q, and promises a weekend party with beautiful cars, boats and great music; proceeds go to a local cause.  This is a great opportunity for us to welcome many out-of-town guests!  Let’s “spruce up” our properties and enhance our curb appeal!  Roll out the red carpet and let’s offer our visitors such great customer service they’ll come back again and again!  We want them to leave with a favorable and positive impression of Needles.  If you work in our hotels and/or restaurants, tell them about our murals and about the new efforts to enhance the city – help spread the word.  Be positive and excited, but most of all, thank them for visiting the City of Needles!

I’ve been working with the City for three months now and I sincerely thank everyone in town for your help, input, participation and support – from both the public and private sectors.  I have felt very welcomed by everyone and I’m excited and encouraged to work with you to positively enhance the City of Needles and your lives in the process.  Just a reminder to like the “City of Needles” Facebook page; you can always contact me at Elaine.Needles@gmail.com.

Again, Happy New Year!  Now, Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves Get to Work!

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