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2014 to be economically productive for Turlock
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The first Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force meeting of 2014 brought forth good news for Turlock, as city staff shared updates on economic growth projected for this year.

 Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt shared that the city has been working alongside the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance while offering interested parties site tours of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park.

Members of the 25-member committee updated city staff and each other on the progress of the individual sub-groups, including Business Attraction, Business Retention and Expansion, and Marketing.

Turlock attorney Richard Mowery of the Business Attraction sub-group shared that his group had directed their focus towards the strengths and weaknesses of Turlock while offering the suggestion that the City work alongside the Chamber of Commerce to conduct a survey of existing local businesses. The survey – which Mowery said could be done at a minimal cost – would ask local business owners what they believe the City is currently doing right or wrong with respects to permitting and business relations.

“I think that a survey could be wonderful,” said Chair Mike Brem. “It could help us as a city hone in on their views to see what we could do better.”

Pitt also shared that throughout the holiday season, she and other city staff members visited various local retailers to receive feedback on what the City could do differently or better.

“I believe that 2014 will start out to be a productive year economically for Turlock,” said Pitt.

The Business Attraction group, which has made the most progress of the three groups since their December meeting, offered suggestions such as an outlet mall similar to the likes of the City of Gilroy as well as furthering the dairy-processing industry.

“The city is well-suited for the dairy process industry,” said Mowery. “I think that dairy may be underutilized in this area. Various economists are predicting that food is going to be a good economic growth area, regardless of where the economy is, and you are in a good position to capitalize on that.”

In regards to the idea of an outlet mall comparable to Gilroy, Mowery said that the demographics of the region could be beneficial for a similar development.

“The idea of an outlet mall is an intriguing idea,” said Mowery. “Based on our location and demographics, it’s something worth looking into and exploring.”

Brem, who shared that he sat on the planning commission in Gilroy while their outlet mall was being developed, agreed that the idea was one worth looking into, although cities with such projects are typically approached by interested retailers or developers.

“[Outlets] usually have to be a certain distance away from their other stores,” said Brem. “But I think it’s a good idea. I know it was a real boom for that community.”

Members of the three sub-groups then broke into individual conference rooms, as they continue to look for new opportunities and strategies to bring economic growth to Turlock. Members of the Workforce Alliance and City staff worked alongside the groups, which are expected to bring a final economic plan to the City Council in September.

The next Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on Feb. 4 at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.