Lindsay celebrates new economic hub in downtown

City and county officials joining representatives from Century 21, the Small Business Development Center and the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce in cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Century 21.(Karis Caddell)

Century 21 opens first office in downtown Lindsay, sharing a building with the Chamber of Commerce along with the town’s new Small Business Development Center

LINDSAY – In an effort to invest in the growth of the community alongside the Chamber of Commerce, Century 21 Real Estate has opened the doors to its new office in Lindsay, which also houses the town’s first Small Business Development Center.

To celebrate a grand-opening of Lindsay’s first Century 21 Real Estate location, a ribbon cutting was held on May 29. Along with the opening of the new business, city and county officials also celebrated the growth of the city, which is what this new spot is meant to fuel now that Century 21 has partnered with the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce.

“Real estate is important for any economy or city to grow, and by virtue of that, if they’re adding buildings development, residential, commercial, retail, that means more jobs, more growth, more infrastructure, and it’s nothing but a positive in the long run,” Mike Allen, a broker with Century 21, said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette.

The office is centrally located in downtown Lindsay at 246 East Honolulu, right across the street from city hall, which makes it the perfect spot to host offices focused on economic growth. The office, which was acquired by Century 21 in December, is newly renovated to have a modern feel while keeping some of the building’s original charm.

The new location will not only have the Century 21 offices, but Chamber of Commerce offices and the town’s first Small Businesses Development Center (SBDC) as well. At the ribbon cutting, Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari presented certificates to Gil Jaramillo, the director of SBDC, and Century 21 broker Mike Allen for their work on the project.

According to Allen, most real estate brokers don’t really have brick and mortar locations anymore. By establishing in a smaller, rural town in Lindsay, he said Century 21 has an opportunity to make its services more personal and community oriented.

“For us, it’s still a ‘people’ business, where we can take our clients and prospective clients into a nice office environment,” Allen said. “There’s peace of mind with residents that ‘hey, these guys, they have an office here, and they’re a hometown company’.”

This is Century 21’s ninth location where the real estate agency opted to join a smaller community to grow alongside.

The SBDC came to be through many conversations between Chamber members Genevieve and Dennis Doane along with Allen and Jaramillo. Genevieve is also an agent with Century 21.

“It’s a very exciting time in Lindsay to see two businesses do a ribbon cutting on the same night,” Dennis, who is the president of the Chamber board, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We really have a heart for our community and we really believe that we are here to make Lindsay a better place to live.”

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Participants of the grand opening ceremony of Century 21, which will be joining the Small Business Development Center and the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce in a downtown building located at at 246 East Honolulu. (Karis Caddell)

When Genevieve and Dennis started talking about finding a location for the SBDC, they realized that Allen – who is Genevieve’s broker – had roots in the area, thus making him a good person to take on a project like this with since he already had a connection to the community, according to Dennis.

“We started penciling some things out and we all sat down and had a think tank meeting. By the end of it, we couldn’t find a reason to say no,” Dennis said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette.

By having all of these services in one centralized location, clients who might be looking to start their own business and find property for it through Century 21 will already be in the same building as the SBDC and the Chamber of Commerce, where they can get various types of business advice. Between the two agencies, this includes things like help with marketing, understanding lease agreements, how to start banking or advice on when to seek out legal counsel.

“Small businesses who struggle, they have no one to turn to,” Dennis said. “So we get to provide that resource for them through our Century 21 building in partnership with the Chamber.”

According to Genevieve, the Chamber will have its own official ribbon cutting/reopening in August to celebrate the continuation of their mission, marking a whole year since the Chamber almost shut down operations altogether.

The building was previously the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce’s office before the Chamber hit a rough patch and almost shut down last year. Back in August 2023, the Chamber wrote a dissolution letter that would have officially ended the chamber, although the letter was rescinded almost right after its initial announcement. This came about due to some issues with the Chamber’s financial situation, and some of the board members at the time felt unsure about continuing with the entity. 

However a few of the board members, Dennis being one of them, felt as though they should fight to reinvent the Chamber. From Dennis’ perspective, at that time, the Chamber had become more of a “social committee” and lost sight of prioritizing small business.

“There were five board members that stayed and they dug their heels in and said ‘we’re not quitting.’ They recruited two people who used to be in the Chamber and together, those seven people single handedly got the chamber out of debt,” Dennis said.

As a way to stay afloat through that rough patch, the Chamber held a fundraiser selling baked potatoes to keep the organization alive in September 2023. Now it seems as though those efforts paid off, as the Chamber has entered a partnership with Century 21, which Dennis described as one of the ways the Chamber has refocused the chamber’s mission in the last few months.

“The mission is to enhance the economic development of the community,” Dennis said. “The decision of the new board was to stick to that mission.”

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