Stewart Savage is the owner of Abaton Consulting, a small business in Davis. This month he became director of the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA). The Aggie sat down with Savage to talk about his new position and his plans for the City of Davis.
The Aggie: Where are you from originally?
Savage: I grew up in Southern California and moved to Davis in 1996.
What is the nature of your business?
I provide technology management services for small business and nonprofits such as web design, social media and professional development training.
What made you decide to start a business in Davis? How did you start up?
I was previously working as the director of technology services at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. I wanted to branch out on my own, have a job that is more flexible, and more interesting than what I was doing. Davis is convenient, close to Sacramento and could be the center point for a large region.
What is it like owning a small business in Davis?
Owning a small business is hard work. There is a lot to know and understand to be successful. Davis is great; there’s lots of opportunity, and downtown is a really nice work environment. You get to know the community, and everything you need is downtown — the post office, meeting places.
What does your new position as director of the DDBA include?
I do administrative and community outreach, paying bills, focusing on building relationship with members. I work with city and county organizations.
How will being a small business owner in Davis help you in your new position as director?
Having a business here enabled me to build relationships with people downtown. I know a lot of people involved with DDBA and city. I tried to establish myself downtown. A lot of people that recognize me and I recognize them. Also, being a small business owner gives me perspective on what business owners have to work with downtown, such as parking. A lot of businesses are frustrated about parking, business requirements and changes in the economy. I can empathize with that being a small business owner.
What plans do you have for the DDBA? Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish?
I want to support the mission of the DDBA, start relationships with business owners in downtown area, let them know we support them and we are doing our best to make Davis the best possible place to work and live. I’m excited to be in this position; it’s an opportunity for [deputy director of the DDBA Nina Gatewood] and I to help support business in the downtown area.
The Aggie also talked to Steve Pinkerton, the new City Manager of Davis, to discuss his position and plans.
The Aggie: Where are you from originally?
Pinkerton: I am from Columbia, Missouri. I’ve been in California for 30 years. I grew up in college towns, and I wanted a nice change of pace, so I came to Davis.
What is your educational background?
I attended undergraduate school at the University of Missouri, where I hold Bachelors’ in geography and economics. I have a Master’s in urban planning and economics from the University of Southern California.
What made you decide to go into city government?
I thought I was going to be a city planner; I was always interested in how cities were built. My father was urban sociologist. Instead of going on family vacations, we would go visit cities that needed help. I guess I’ve got it in my blood to be part of that. In planning you’re just a regulator, and you don’t get to implement anything, so I got involved in redevelopment. I spent the first 20 years of my career in redevelopment. I wanted to have more impact, so I got into city management, where I could help the overall city operate better.
What are some things you hope to change as the city manager of Davis?
We don’t have same revenues we used to. Property values and sales tax, which are our biggest money generators, are flat, while expenses keep going up. It’s a real challenge to figure out how to do more with less. We live in a community with a high expectation for service. We’ll have to find a way to do that with less money and less people. We will focus on the priorities of the community with more volunteers, while reducing workforce and overall compensation.
How will the dissolving of redevelopment agencies affect projects going on in Davis such as the water project?
There will be no effect on the utility project. But will impact projects downtown, such as the hope for new hotel, right at the entryway of the city. It will also affect other improvements, such as public parking. Business attraction and economic development are paid for by redevelopment. Business creates revenue for city services. There is less money to invest in businesses. We will work more closely with the DDBA and downtown businesses, but there just aren’t the same resources we had in the past.
How will it affect the Davis economy in general?
We want to have a mix between retail and restaurants, but it’s hard when we don’t have resources to do that, so we will probably allow more restaurants. We would like to have more true retail downtown, but it’s harder.
Einat Gilboa can be reached email@example.com.