Guest Opinion: Not just coffee

Chuck Bergson | Mayor, City of Williams

By now you have heard that Starbucks Coffee has opened in Williams. This new store adds to the City’s array of stores geared for travelers. However this is not just another “travel” store. The opening of this business at this location is a significant step for the City and the region.

This business does more that just pour coffee – it removes an eyesore from the City’s front door, enhances our gateway Arch, sets a design standard for E Street, cleans and reuses an abandoned gas station site, and demonstrates the City’s commitment to commerce and ability to help redevelop downtown. Holding forth through many obstacles, the City brought this project from a telephone inquiry to opening one of the world’s most popular and in-demand traveler’s stops.

Williams is literally and figuratively at crossroads. The crossroads of two major industries – agriculture and travel, and the crossroads of highways – highways 20 and 5. The County is the locale of one of the most intense agriculture in the country, the County’s primary industry, and the cities are the locale for the producers, workers, equipment shops that support this industry. These highways, with its plethora of gas stations and restaurants, have been and continue to be the basic revenue for the cities.

When the State removed Highway 99 West and Highway 20 from the heart of Williams in the 1960s, the City lost its core revenue and endured an extended economic downturn. After this downturn, the City contemplated bringing in a truck stop to bring back the City’s travel industry and help balance the loss of the through-town highways.

Decades of attempts at this truck stop ran out of energy and into dead ends. However, over the past few years, with an sustained and continued effort by recent administrations, the City has realized this goal. Not only is a truck stop now under construction, more commerce is following in its wake along with jobs and a bright municipal future. As you can see all over Williams – the truck stop, downtown, Orv’s expansion, senior housing, and soon to come – stores for groceries, auto parts, pancakes, and an industrial park.

The opening of this coffee shop has been more than just filling an unsightly gap at the City’s entrance, more than just meeting a demand from the traveling public, and is more than just coffee. This store signals to the public, to industry, to Northern California, and to the community, that Williams is committed and accomplished to acquire future businesses and jobs, professional opportunities, education, and recreation.

— Chuck Bergson is the current Mayor for the City of Williams, he can be reached at wccbergson@cityofwilliams.org.

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