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Industrial park to get new name in hopes of wooing businesses

POSTED July 29, 2011 8:33 p.m.

Turlock’s confusingly-named 2,500 acre industrial park – the Westside Industrial Specific Plan – hasn’t seen as much interest from developers as the city had hoped for.

But the development may soon have a new name to help woo occupants: the Turlock Regional Industrial Park.

The concept of renaming the WISP, a patch of shovel-ready industrial land roughly bounded by Fulkerth Road, Washington Road, Linwood Avenue and Highway 99, came up in talks with industrial brokers about a year and a half ago. While some said the name did not matter, others said the current title was not very descriptive.

“Over the years, there’s been some discussion about how ‘WISP’ is not a desirable acronym or a catchy phrase,” said Turlock Redevelopment and Economic Development Manager Heidi McNally-Dial.

Westside Industrial Specific Plan was originally intended as a working title, but somehow wound up sticking. With Westside referring to the west side of Highway 99, Industrial referring to the type of land, and Specific Plan referring to an aspect of the planning process, the name failed to broadly advertise the park’s location or the amenities it offers.

“We had issues in getting people to realize it’s in Turlock,” McNally-Dial said.

The renaming effort was first considered by the Turlock City Council a few months ago, and then passed along to the Planning Commission. A special WISP Advisory Committee was formed, which met on Wednesday and settled on the “Turlock Regional Industrial Park” name in less than a half an hour.

The new title was proposed by Municipal Services Director Dan Madden, but quickly drew acclaim from members of the business community as superior to other suggestions like “West Coast Business Park” and “Turlock Industrial Gateway.”

“I like (Turlock Regional Industrial Park),” Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva said. “I think Turlock should be exactly what it states.”

The name will now return to the Planning Commission for approval, then head to the City Council for final passage sometime in September.

But even with the new name, the City of Turlock faces a challenge in wooing new businesses to follow in the footsteps of companies like Sensient Foods, U.S. Cold Storage, and Peninsula Plastics.

On Wednesday, city staff learned that two large yogurt makers abandoned the concept of expanding to the WISP out of fears of difficulties in permitting – all without contacting the City of Turlock for a free predevelopment meeting.

The news shocked city staff, as Turlock prides itself on the quick permitting possible at the shovel-ready park. Some businesses have begun construction in as few as eight weeks, while a massive expansion of U.S. Cold Storage was recently approved at the staff level.

The incident just shows Turlock has more work to do in communicating the business-friendly features of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden said.

“It makes me want to jump out of a window when I hear someone walked away,” Wasden said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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