Economic development has been and continues to be the number one priority for communities across California, and especially here in the Central Valley where recovery from the recent recession has been slow going. In the midst of this effort to attract and maintain thriving businesses, the City of Turlock has been recognized for its Turlock Regional Industrial Plan and celebrated the success of its small business incentive program.
The City of Turlock was recently acknowledged by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley for its streamlined permitting process for new construction in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park and the job creation that it fosters.
The Partnership gave kudos to the City for engaging in practices that streamlined the development process for approving new agricultural businesses that thrive in the Central Valley. By adopting the industrial specific plan, the City planned and invested in infrastructure that is friendly to agri-business, from truck circulation to wastewater facilities to proximity to a new energy plant; environmental impacts of potential new industrial uses were studied in the EIR that was adopted with the Specific Plan. With the Master Plan and environmental approval already completed, the City was able to issue entitlements and complete the project-level environmental review for Blue Diamond within roughly 10 weeks of the application. Since the Master Plan was already completed, the City was able to immediately create a joint construction team during the building permit review and construction phases of the project.
The City’s expedited plan review process as well as a phased issuance of building permits kept the project moving. Operation of the first test line took place within a year and three days of the issuance of the building permit, which was made possible by the Master Plan process performing a streamlining function.
But it's not just large industries the City has been working to draw into town.
In 2011, the City of Turlock kicked off the Turlock Business Partnership Incentives Program, offering $1,000 cash to small businesses which open up shop in vacant storefronts and meet certain criteria, such as submitting a business plan.
Over the past four years, the City has given incentives to 45 businesses, which created 94 full-time jobs and 83 part-time jobs.
"That's quite a leveraging of funds in terms of an investment and that return on that investment. What we see now is that our vacancy rates are very, very low in the commercial centers...we don't have much left in terms of available commercial space. So I think the program has been very successful for what we intended, which was to fill vacant commercial space," said Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for economic development and housing in Turlock, during an update on the program she gave to the City Council on Tuesday.
Following her program update, Vice Mayor Amy Bublak presented the newest incentive recipient —Carnivore's BBQ Sandwich Shop owner Richard Aziz — with a check.
"The whole concept is to basically help somebody get a business open. With the jobs and opportunities for small businesses, it's great for city, it's great for our community," said Bublak.