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Business development remains focus of downtown in 2011

Business development remains focus of downtown in 2011

Turlocker Alyssa Epstein and her 1-year-old son Nathaniel Evens shop for fresh produce at the Turlock Certified Farmers Market in November 2010. The farmers market is one of the special events the...


POSTED February 11, 2011 8:27 p.m.

The efforts to make downtown Turlock into a booming business district once again will continue through the new year as the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association unveils a series of programs, events, and advocacy sessions to keep the seed of revitalization growing.

The association will be concentrating their efforts on projects and programs that above all else bring the businesses and the customers to downtown, said the association’s executive director Trina Walley.

“The primary focus is all about business development,” Walley said. “Our efforts will focus on what more can we do to make it more enticing for businesses to locate in downtown.”

Those enticements include a continuation of special events like Taste of Turlock in downtown, and strengthening partnerships with the city, the university, art groups and other organizations like the Alliance Small Business Development center and the Engineering Assistance Program that will help foster more opportunities for business owners, Walley said.

A key asset in the revitalizations effort is the Downtown Entrepreneur Center. Formerly called the Turlock Downtown Economic Alliance, the center works as an incubator for new start-ups. The center offers the new companies everything from office space and business resources to help creating marketing plans and navigating bureaucracy. The resources are offered with the expectation that in two years time the businesses will set up shop in downtown. Since its inception in 2009, the center has helped two businesses — the apparel store Gurl Frenzy and Frost, the cupcake specialty store and bakery — open up in downtown. The center currently has five tenants, Walley said.

“The center has been an integral part of my business opening up,” said Frost owner Shelly Koch. “I don’t think I could have done it without them.”

The TDPOA also will be promoting the services of the Engineering Assistance Program and the Turlock Partnership Incentives. The EAP helps the transition into a downtown building by providing assessment of vacant spaces and guidance during pre-development meetings. The TPI will assist in offsetting the costs of city fees and permits, helping lessen the financial burden of starting a new business.

Property owners have a planned investment of $400,000 over the course of the year in downtown, with most of it going towards tenant improvements and building rehab.

Several big projects and enterprises are already in the works for downtown this year. The Dust Bowl Brewery Tap Room has been busy with renovations in the Mercantile Building for their expected April opening and the newly remodeled Richard and Chambers building will be home to a new accounting firm soon.

The planned opening of the Carnegie Arts Center in September is also expected to be a boon for downtown businesses, especially restaurants.

“I think it (the arts center) will be right up there with any other premiere regional arts center,” said Carnegie Arts Center Foundation President Jeani Ferrari.

The special events the TDPOA will continue this year are: Taste of Turlock, the farmers market, the 4th of July parade and car show, downtown trick-or-treating, the festival of lights, and the Christmas parade. Additionally they’re planning “Fruitopia” a fruit tasting fundraiser sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Turlock.

“We hope to see a lot more new events in 2011,” Walley said.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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