ambassadors

Beaumont Economic Development Manager Kyle Warsinski addresses Beaumont ambassadors.

BY DAVID JAMES HEISS

Record Gazette

When Beaumont’s Economic Development Manager Kyle Warsinski asked more than a dozen businessmen and women as to what their challenges and struggles were when it comes to doing business in their city, their responses did not seem to surprise him.

Traffic was a contender for biggest frustrations.

Unexpected increases for utility expenses during a pandemic when business is already down, was another concern.

Warsinski’s colleague Doug Story, the city’s assistant director of Community Services, got an earful as visitors lamented the irreplaceable loss of a community swimming pool.

Warsinski and Story lead discussions during a Small Business Ambassadors forum hosted at city hall Wednesday morning, when they offered updates as to what has been going on around the city when it comes to infrastructure, park improvements, road improvements, and retail analysis.

As for traffic: Highland Springs Avenue congestion is always a vexing topic.

Warsinki explained that there are plans in consideration for a diamond interchange to make traffic flow along that thoroughfare.

The city is readying an extension of 2nd Street behind Kohl’s to connect to Pennsylvania Avenue, which should help alleviate some Highland Springs bottlenecks.

Pennsylvania Avenue is in the works to widen to four lanes from two, and much farther down the road is the hope of having a grade separation for traffic to eventually go beneath the railroad tracks on Pennsylvania.

Speeding along 6th Street and Beaumont Avenue were also issues the city needs to tackle, the city was told.

Warsinski got an earful from business owners vexed by the city’s exploration of closing Viele Street, which concludes at Sixth Street, causing dangerous traffic situations.

Viele, as locals living around there, and business owners situated there, already contends with railroad crossings and the myriad of employees from various warehouses, which clog up that area.

If the city closes it off, traffic will make what already is a nightmare become more miserable.

Participants expressed concerns that they were not given a lot of opportunity for input, and Warsinski seemed to have already received an earful after the city council initially expressed an interest in closing the street.

He and other city officials took note, as he tried to move on to other topics.

On a more cheerful note, he praised the analytics available to Beaumont’s business owners, thanks to a city contract with Austin, Texas-based The Retail Coach, a consultant which uses cell phone data to help businesses track where customers come from, when they visit (and for how long).

Any Beaumont business owner in the city can request analysis about their customers’ spending habits, free of charge, which can be an instrumental tool allowing businesses to maximize staffing and marketing.

Wednesday morning’s Small Business Ambassadors gathering is expected to become a quarterly in-person forum.

Stacy Love, president of Beaumont Electric, Inc., whose business would be adversely affected by a closure of Viele Street, said after the meeting “It was nice that the city gave the business owners a chance to discuss issues and provide a dialogue regarding what concerns we have.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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