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Atascadero leaders talk economic development 

Atascadero Mayor Tom O'Malley

Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley

The Atascadero City Council held a strategic workshop Friday to discuss ways to improve the city’s economic development. A company specializing in economic growth facilitated the discussion among elected officials, city staff and interested members of the community.

Those who attended broke into small groups and devised ways to enhance the city’s image. Participants were asked how one could generate interest in Atascadero when it lacks a beach, wineries or other big attraction drawing people to other Central Coast community.

Before the strategic workshop, the council approved a letter thanking the community for its patience during the long debate over development of a Walmart in Atascadero, in spite of wide-support. A survey in 2008 showed that 75-percent of residents are dissatisfied with shopping opportunities in the city, the letter said. Residents spend more than $790 million out of town, which represents a loss of up to $750,000 to Atascadero, it said.

The Walmart issue was settled this month after an appeals court decision in favor of the city and Walmart went unchallenged.

Councilman Bob Kelley says creating roundabouts for the Del Rio Road area is the next big challenge facing the city.

About 35 people attended the workshop Friday at the Rotunda including the entire city council and several others running for mayor or city council in the November election.

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