Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, TKHCC, hosted a luncheon and meeting at Porterville's La Cocina de Dona Maggie Restaurant at the former Paul Bunyan Lodge on Wednesday. 

Before the meeting everyone socialized, and spoke together about their businesses, and basically networked.

More than a dozen representatives from both Visalia and Porterville local businesses, non-profits, and organizations attended, as well as dignitaries from the City of Porterville, as well as the Porterville Chamber of Commerce.

 TKHCC hosts luncheons with guest speakers throughout the county, and they're invested in promoting business growth within the Hispanic communities throughout the Valley. 

Debbie Landers, TKHCC Ambassador introduced the meeting and welcomed Porterville Mayor Martha A. Flores, and welcomed the staff from the Visalia Chamber of Commerce.

She spoke about TKHCC, and collaborating and networking with other businesses, and spoke about her business as an Arbonne Independent Consultant and Executive Regional vice president. She asked everyone in the room to speak about their business or organization.

Vincent Salinas spoke about resuming TKHCC ties to the Porterville community after the hiatus caused by the COVID pandemic, and spoke about the many activities they're involved with in the valley. They host a variety of workshops, and people can choose their level of involvement with TKHCC.

They regularly host meetings in Visalia and Hanford. He mentioned people can become Chamber ambassadors, and that is one of the best ways to get involved with the community.

Salinas spoke warmly of Jason Ridenour, Porterville's Community Development Director, and said, "It's always a pleasure to have a great guest speaker."

Besides Ridenour, Claudia Calderon and Alida Verduzco Silva were present from City of Porterville Economic/Housing and Community Development Departments.

Ridenour said, "Vincent and I always appreciate the partnership we have."

Ridenour gave an overview of the population of Porterville and the median household income and economic mobility, saying economic development would help create jobs  and infrastructure. Improving the quality of life and investing in future business would improve with future economic development, he said.

He said with the fall out from the pandemic a lot of the retailers stepped back from investments. But there's new activity,  and interest in the Riverwalk Shopping Center at Jaye and Highway 190.

There are also plans for a hotel on Henderson as part of the expansion of the Crossroads Center near Henderson and Prospect, but work will continue on that, Ridenour said.

The project was delayed by the pandemic. The future development on Henderson Avenue is under an Environmental Impact Review. 

Ridenour spoke about many of the new and upcoming projects happening throughout the city and Porterville area. 

 But not all the development is retail development. The relocated Eagle Mountain Casino will provide investment and infrastructure near the Porterville Sports Complex and Porterville Fairgrounds, Ridenour said.

And there are prospects for commercial and light industrial development at the Porterville Municipal Airport, he said. The airport has received a $4.4 million grant to improve the taxiways and the airport will be a foundation for growth, he said. The runway will be shifted north so CALFIRE and other entities can use larger aircraft to fight fires, and fly people in to use the airport, Ridenour said.

Having a larger airport can also promote tourism and access to the Sequoia National Forest and the "Mighty 190,” Ridenour said. Ridenour said he was working with CalTrans to provide imagery for the "Mighty 190."

There's planning for the new Heritage Athletic Complex which will be located near the new library in which Porterville received a grant for $7.26 million, and everyone is excited about that, Ridenour said. The library will be off of Olive across from the South County Justice Center.

There's a strong business partnerships in Porterville and new housing developments. Industrial developers are looking for places where there is existing housing. 

 Ridenour spoke about construction that would be begin next year on Main Street and be done in phases, starting with a drainage project near Morton Avenue.

John Lollis, Porterville City Manager, spoke about a roundabout and a signal project planned by CalTrans near Porterville College and Highway 190.

A man in the audience asked about the homeless population in Porterville, and Ridenour said there were 213 homeless people in Porterville, but the number is alway revolving, and said the new Navigation Center is helping to address the issue.

Gil Jaramillo, Chief Executive Officer of TKHCC, next spoke about all the upcoming activities for the Chamber. 

He said those who are members or involved in a non-profit organization could consider becoming a Porterville ambassador. "It's a good way to learn about the TKHCC workshops.”

He said one doesn't have to be a member to participate in the workshops. 

 TKHCC also collaborates with other chambers. Kristy Martin, Porterville Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer, was at the luncheon and spoke with many people, as well as a representative from the casino.

Landers, who's a Sierra View Medical Center Foundation member, spoke about the Dueling Pianos Fundraiser on October 1, andFlores spoke about Porterville Exchange Club planning a masquerade party.

For more information about TKHCC contact mytkhcc.org, or call 559-734-6020

For more information about Porterville Community Development call 559-782-7460

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