Imagine a day when, instead of reading a headline in the paper such as "Richmond: Fire sends hundreds to hospitals, pushing gas prices above $4 a gallon on the West Coast," we read a headline saying, "Richmond: Chevron scientists discover carbon sequestering procedure that eliminates off-site pollution from the refining process," or "Chevron Richmond Technology Campus hosts 1,000 Richmond middle- and high-school students for weeklong science camp." Just imagine the positive implications of that kind of news regularly coming out of Richmond.
Recently, I read an article saying Chevron is sitting on $41 billion in cash. Is it too much to ask Chevron for a relatively small investment in the future of this city -- one that would not only pay dividends to the city, but to Chevron as well? Both have a lot at stake.
On one hand, Richmond is a city in desperation. It has been plagued by high crime rates, poverty, pollution, poorly performing schools and political infighting.
By all metrics, Richmond has failed in most aspects by which a city is judged. This is evident in the response you get when you tell someone you live in Richmond.
At the same time, by many accounts, Richmond is a city on the rise. Some would even say we are in the middle of a renaissance. Thanks in no small part to visionary leadership and perseverance, crime is trending down, new businesses have chosen to locate here, and there is a renewed interest and investment in our shoreline and our inner-city.
On top of this, and partly because if it, one of the nation's most preeminent scientific research entities picked Richmond out of a shortlist of neighboring cities to build its new campus.
There has never been a better time to invest in the future of Richmond, and there is no company more suited for such an investment as Chevron.
After all, Richmond was built around the company and the company has built much of its profits upon the resources of the city of Richmond. The two are inextricably tied and the two can help each other write the next successful chapter of a long and successful story.
Chevron needs the support and goodwill of the people, businesses and politicians of Richmond to maintain its ability to operate the Richmond refinery and continue to produce the fuels that drive the region's economy.
Richmond needs the investment by Chevron to turn the tide of poverty and disinvestment that has left this once-thriving industrial town a shell of its former self, rampant with crime, unemployment, blighted neighborhoods, and vacant buildings.
There is still pride and purpose in the hearts and minds of Richmond's residents. Together, the company around which this city grew up and the city that helped that company grow into a global energy giant, can help shape the development of Richmond into a thriving regional technology hub that will be the envy of any city in the region, and will be a catalyst for a sea change in Richmond's perception from a regional and even national standpoint.
Let's put Richmond in the headlines for the right reasons, not the ones to which we've grown accustomed.
I sincerely hope Chevron agrees.
Andrew Butt, a resident of Richmond, is an architect and a Richmond planning commissioner.