Angels Camp Business Buzzing Towards Busier 2020
Angels Camp. CA – Stirrings in a Mother Lode city that has seen its share of sleepy years have local business promoters optimistic towards the new year ahead.
Hired almost two years ago to head up economic development activities for the City of Angels, Debbie Ponte has a unique perspective to share with current, future and potential business developers. A former Calaveras County supervisor, Angels Camp mayor, vice mayor and councilmember, she has become a conduit and a facilitator-coach for getting things done and helping nudge progress forward.
This year, she says, has brought welcome additions to Angels Camp like the new Tractor Supply and MACT clinic on Highway 49/Main Street. The multi-million-dollar Dalton Medical Offices, owned and operated by Dignity Health/Mark Twain Medical Center, located just off the main drag behind Froggy’s Car Wash on Stanislaus Street, is now slated for a quiet opening before the end of January.
Among the newer Old Town area businesses, this year are Crafty Chicks and Company, Mingoes on Main and Just Because gifts, all owned by local retailer-entrepreneurs. There’s also an Edward R Jones investment offices.
Some already established businesses have expanded their offerings. Sugar Bakery now has a lunch deli; the Vino Metate tasting room added a café with beer, more wine, and tapas. Utica Mansion next to Utica Park, which years ago was a bed-and-breakfast, reactivated as an outdoor venue.
Beginning in January, Columbia Community College will open a satellite campus where the Calaveras County Office of Education is located near Calaveras Lumber. “It’s a pretty exciting endeavor,” Ponte happily acknowledges.
Currently, plans are to offer classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m. enabling students to work towards a two-year AA degree. “Students can finish an AA degree onsite without having to go to Columbia College to take tests or buy textbooks,” she explains. “Once we get that off the ground, we are looking at other tracks for career paths and trades,” she adds.
Anticipated Downtown Development Moving Forward
Plans for the Utica Hotel and conference center are slowly moving forward. Its out-of-town owners have been quietly dealing with costly infrastructure issues such as ADA adaptions, and Ponte says the Miners Lounge is anticipated to shortly open. In addition to the hotel, restaurant, and storefronts, the owners acquired properties in the back of the structure for a multi-level parking garage, and traffic circulation.
“This project has certainly been in the works for a couple of years, not as fast as we would probably like it but moving along,” she admits. She chucklingly recalls her younger days when the old lounge was known for bringing in acts as diverse as Johnny Cash and The Chippendales All-Male Dance Revue.
With regard to 2020, she confides, “I can say we have a couple of exciting projects that are in escrow right now that would certainly bring some new and interesting jobs to our city.”
Among her areas of focus in the new year are to continue looking to bring in retail and diversification such as light industry. “We have lots of infrastructure projects, such as the Highway 49 and Stanislaus Street stoplight going in with the medical clinic triggering the need for it.”
She also notes that much-needed water and sewer system modernizations are underway and that outreach to the citizenry enabled the passing of a 7.75 percent sales tax and an increase in the TOT from 10 to 12 percent, which will help fund more critical infrastructure improvements.
Along with continued progress on these and other fronts, Ponte shares her 2020 wish list includes filling in “missing” retailers. “We lose about 52 percent of our retail dollars that go outside the county,” she laments.
“I hate to see one of anything. I like choices. Almost anything clothing would do good right now and sporting goods, because people are going to Sonora or Jackson for those,” She adds confidently, “I think most any business in town would do very well right now.”
To view recent storefront photos of the downtown area click into the image box slideshow.