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City updates economic taskforce on potential projects
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Barely reaching a quorum, the Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force meeting on Tuesday saw several empty seats as many of the 25-member committee were unable to attend. Despite the dip in participation, the group continued moving forward by picking up from their February meeting as they continually seek new strategies to update the City’s 2003 Strategic Economic Development Plan. 

Although members of the three subgroups within the task force did not report any significant updates since their last meeting, Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt provided a handful of recent developments that could lead to potential business growth in Turlock.

After attending an economic development practitioners meeting with representatives from around the county last week, Pitt shared that there are currently 31 active industrial projects which may or may not locate within Stanislaus, seven of which are in food processing – an industry that City Manager Roy Wasden has pinpointed as the future of Turlock.

“We don’t know if they’re looking to come to Turlock at this point,” said Pitt. “We are able to put forward a proposal for the projects, but at this point we are only told what they need and what type of business it is. We know that they’re all industrial, but we aren’t told which companies they are specifically. We hope that they will consider Turlock, but they may be looking all up and down California at this point.”

According to Pitt, many of those industrial projects are looking for existing spaces to fill, which she says are not typically available in Turlock.

“Several of these are searching for larger buildings that are convertible to different uses,” said Pitt. “Turlock doesn’t have those types of vacant buildings.”

Aside from submitting proposals for such projects, Pitt reported that she has been busy working closely with two or three other interested businesses looking to locate in Turlock, including one that has expressed specific interest in Turlock’s location due to the availability of rail access.

Additionally, Pitt shared that the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance has been working on developing a profile for Turlock which will include a needs assessment and gap analysis. Once finished, the full profile and analysis will be provided to the Mayor’s Economic Development Taskforce to help the members identify and implement specific strategies that boost the local economy.

Members of each subgroup continued to meet in breakout sessions to review previous economic and business goals included in the 2003 strategic plan, many of which have been identified as completed or no longer relevant.

Next week, Pitt and other Turlock representatives will be attending the International Council of Shopping Centers conference held in Monterey, where businesses bring forth emerging ideas for development in Northern California. Additionally, the conference allows for cities and local officials to meet with commercial and industrial site selectors looking to open new locations.

Previous conferences have resulted in successes for Turlock, including last year’s conference when the city began discussions with Dick’s Sporting Goods. With the business now set to open as part of the Monte Vista Crossings South expansion project later this year, Pitt says that she hopes the cutting-edge conference will provide the city with new business opportunities.

The next Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on April 1 at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.