A small group of Turlock residents gathered Wednesday at City Hall to offer their input on the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, which is currently being updated.
The feedback collected by Applied Development Economics, the consulting firm contracted by the City of Turlock to update the economic plan, varied from concerns about the level of poverty in the area and lack of affordable housing to the need for more internship opportunities for young people and training the newest generation on workplace expectations to possible incentives for infill development.
Doug Svensson, president of ADE, said he would take all the input from Wednesday’s community forum and add it to the information gathered from economic stakeholder meetings and focus groups and use it to help develop strategies and priorities for Turlock’s economic plan.
Svensson and the ADE team have already used data-driven information to paint a picture of where Turlock stands economically on its own and in relation to the surrounding area.
As with many cities, Turlock sees the most revenue per acre of development for hotels and retail businesses, followed by business parks and industrial, according to Svensson. However, higher-paying manufacturing jobs have greater impacts on the overall economy of the city than do lower-paying retail jobs.
Turlock has a lot going for it when it comes to economic growth potential, according to ADE.
The city has a well-educated workforce (compared to the rest of Stanislaus County), a strong downtown and retail sector and the Turlock Regional Specific Plan industrial park.
ADE has identified key industry growth opportunities in food processing and package sectors, like cheese and snack foods, wine and cardboard and plastic packaging related to food, and other manufacturing areas including sheet metal and plastic products. The consulting firm also sees a need for more accountants, testing labs, computer systems designers, scientific and technical consulting, teachers, professional managers and healthcare services.
Turlock also has disposable incomes on par with some Bay Area communities, when taking into consideration the lower housing costs in the Valley.
ADE has also identified a few obstacles to economic growth. There is currently poor access to Interstate 5, labor shortages in “middle skilled” occupations like welders, plumbers and electricians and some issues with internet speed and reliability.
The area’s slow housing growth and the state’s rising minimum wage could also be negative factors when trying to attract new businesses to locate to Turlock.
ADE is expected to present their Economic Development Strategy Plan to the Turlock City Council at the Council’s June 27 meeting.