Thinking about opening a new business? The City of Turlock is offering $1,000 in cold, hard cash to startup businesses, in hopes of inciting economic development in Turlock.
“It’s not a significant amount, but hopefully it provides some incentive,” said Heidi McNally-Dial, Turlock Redevelopment and Economic Development manager.
The cash payout is the latest iteration of Turlock’s Partnership Incentive Program, first approved by the Turlock City Council on Jan. 11.
At that time, the City of Turlock had hoped to grant a fee break – up to $5,000 – to businesses in the program. The recently approved Proposition 26 threw that plan into disarray, however, as legally the city could no longer temporarily reduce fees and then re-raise them without voter approval.
The revised program, developed in partnership with the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and the Stanislaus County Alliance, sidesteps the legal issues by offering cash rather than a fee break. Up to 150 businesses can participate in the new program to receive the new $1,000 bonus, funded through $150,000 allocated from city’s $13.5 million general fund reserve by the City Council.
The program’s already drawn significant interest, McNally-Dial said, with inquiries from potential startup businesses in fields ranging from restaurant to retail and agriculture to fitness. About 15 possible new businesses have contacted the city about the program, just in the past month.
“Some say, ‘I’d been thinking about this for a while, and I thought I’d give you a call because I heard about this program,’” McNally-Dial said.
But not just any business qualifies; the program has a few strings attached before participants can collect. Those qualifications are “pretty minor,” in McNally-Dial’s words.
Intended to both encourage economic development and fill vacant storefronts, the City of Turlock restricts participation to new businesses, opening in an existing, unoccupied, appropriately zoned building.
Applicants must also meet with the Turlock Planning Division for a predevelopment meeting. That meeting puts developers in the same room as representatives from various city departments, on hand to answer questions, offer feedback, and aid in determining a project’s true cost and feasibility.
After opening, participating businesses must participate in some minor record keeping, informing the city as to how many people were hired compared to projections, and how sales compared to projections.
But the biggest hurdle the startups must leap to qualify – and one which has scared away a few participants already – is drafting a comprehensive business plan. The requirement is intended to ensure owners understand their business from top to bottom, from production costs to marketing, potential customers, where to locate, and how much staffing is needed.
“A lot of small businesses, they don’t think about having working capital or things like that, and a business plan makes you spell all that out,” McNally-Dial said.
Turlock doesn’t expect fledgling businesses to draft a plan alone. The Small Business Development Center, housed at the Turlock Downtown Small Business Incubator on Main Street, will offer free assistance in developing those business plans.
Drafting a business plan may be time consuming, McNally-Dial admitted, but without solid planning, many small businesses fail to survive the first year. And to ensure Turlock’s economic future benefits from the $1,000 investment – and to help entrepreneurs succeed in their new ventures – it’s seen as a necessary step.
“We want the businesses to be successful, and we want the businesses to last,” McNally-Dial said.
For more information, call 668-5541 ext. 1108, or 585-9508.
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