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Protect Visalia Project

Case Study: Protect Visalia

A significant part of public affairs work is getting people to right their misconceptions. In the case of Carter & Co. Communications’ “Protect Visalia” campaign, there was a massive misconception in play. The Visalia City Council and the city’s planning commission were under the impression that retail expansion is always good. In this case, they hadn’t considered all of the facts.

Officials were prepared to approve the 2030 General Plan Update, a vote that would allow for major commercial development at the southern outskirts of the city at Caldwell Ave. and Highway 99.

Such development would have crippled Visalia’s thriving downtown/Mooney Blvd. retail area and flooded a sparsely populated area with a surplus of commercial space. In turn, eventual commercial vacancies in both areas would have run rampant and led to declining property values.

Based on recommendations from highly knowledgeable professionals, Carter & Co. Communications was chosen to put together a knowledgeable, persuasive campaign to stop this from happening. The firm birthed Protect Visalia and had a week to rally enough support to at least postpone a City Council vote to approve the General Plan.

Carter & Co. began digging deeper into the General Plans; researching everything from necessary fees to complete it, to certain companies’ prerequisites for expanding into new cities.  The research began to expose flaws in the plan. The pipe-dream beliefs that the new shopping center could attract merchants like Ikea and Bass Pro Shop began to dissolve.

For example, Ikea demands a minimum 1 million-person population to expand into a new city, well beyond Visalia’s projected population in 2030, and Bass Pro Shop requires major subsidies from local government and also has population and location parameters that could not be met. Beyond staunch research,

Carter & Co. used grassroots movements and social media to educate residents and media on the effects of supporting the General Plan. An e-flier reached more than 500 people on Facebook in the campaign’s first week, and days later Protect Visalia’s Facebook page had more than 30,000 likes. Along with Facebook, Twitter also pointed followers to articles and Protect Visalia’s website, which was a huge informational tool. In an effort to get concerned citizens to attend the city Council Cote, the campaign produced 500 hard copy fliers and passed them out to downtown/Mooney Blvd. businesses; independent contractors made more than 800 phone calls and sent more than 300 emails to community and business leaders with regards to the meeting.

On the night of the City Council vote, Carter & Co. distributed Protect Visalia stickers and gained new people for its mailing list. More than 250 people attended the City Council meeting.  Local news media was also in attendance.

Mayor Amy Shuklian noted that it was the largest turnout for such a meeting in her five years of public service. After seeing the community’s concern for the issue, the City Council voted 4-1 to table it and called for further analysis of the situation.

Television news reports and newspaper articles followed and eventually there was a unanimous decision that any further retail development would be focused on the downtown/Mooney Blvd. area of Visalia, not the southern expansion.

This local victory benefited numerous businesses and the community as a whole. Carter & Co. Communications was thrilled to be an instrumental part of the movement. They did this by swiftly developing and implementing strategies  and by knowing the community better than any other full-service public affairs firm.


Protect Visalia

Protect Visalia Facebook


Community Awareness


Social Media / Citizen Mobilization

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