As businesses spring up like mushrooms in Apple Valley, and long-entrenched businesses in Victorville continue to pour sales tax revenue into that city's coffers, Hesperia has unveiled a three-part plan to attract businesses to the city.

At the December 5 meeting of the Hesperia City Council, they approved a new business attraction incentives program, which includes a broker's incentive program, a restaurant rewards program and a franchise founders program. The program will cost the city's redevelopment agency $2,500,000.

"As economic development gets more and more competitive ... we want to make sure we get a shot," Steve Lantsberger, Hesperia's Director of Economic Development, said Thursday.

The broker's incentive plan will match the commission, up to $50,000, of real estate brokers who sell vacant or blighted land if the land is then developed as an industrial, retail or commercial property.

"The brokers' program was developed to encourage the brokers to come to Hesperia first," Lantsberger said. "The thing that gets brokers' attention is money."

The incentive plan requires prior approval from the city, and other restrictions apply.

The restaurant rewards program will provide chain restaurants with a safety net in the event they don't make their operational and profit guidelines.

"We believe that, at the end of the day, any restaurant that locates here will be incredibly successful, and we won't have to put out a nickel, because we're so incredibly underserved," Lantsberger said. "We're not dealing with start-ups, typically, nor fast food. We're dealing with quality franchises."

The franchise founders program provides financial assistance for the first five years a new franchise business operates within the city. The financial assistance will vary on an individual basis.

"We want to support entrepreneurship, but we have to be careful with the taxpayers' money," Lantsberger said.

The new program is only a week old, and it's too soon to see many results, but Lantsberger is optimistic about its possibilities.

"We've put it out to one [business] we really want here, and they're really intrigued by it. They've been really reluctant, because there's all this hype in the media about the housing down turn," he said. "We're trying to say 'hey, there's a little risk, but we'll cover you.' And maybe that will put them over the top."

Although some businesses may qualify for more than one of the three parts of the business incentive program, a business may only participate in a single one.

Of course, if the three-pronged program is a success, Hesperia's neighboring communities may well follow suit.

"For as long as we can enjoy a competitive edge, we'll take it," Lantsberger said.

The next meeting of the Hesperia City Council will be on December 19 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.