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New chapter for Turlock economics
Mayor touts citys success in enticing new businesses in annual State of the City address
mayor pic
Turlock Mayor John Lazar delivered his 8th annual State of the City address on Wednesday, joining together with business leaders and city officials during the 2014 Turlock Chamber of Commerce breakfast. - photo by CARA HALLAM/The Journal

Turlock has a new way of doing business, making the local economy stronger each day, says Mayor John Lazar.

During the 2014 State of the City address given at the annual Turlock Chamber of Commerce breakfast held on Wednesday, Mayor Lazar highlighted several successes the City has made over the past year as Turlock continues to make strides in economic recovery.

“This is a new chapter in our community,” said Lazar, as he took the podium for his 8th State of the City address. “Turlock is becoming one of the most business friendly cities in California.”

Alongside a changing culture at City Hall, Lazar credited the tremendous efforts made by city staff as the backbone for the City’s recent accomplishments, including a streamlined permitting process that has helped secure a multitude of new businesses.

Noting the recent announcement of Hilmar Cheese Company’s new multi-million dollar milk powder processing plant coming to Turlock, the Mayor emphasized the continual progress witnessed in Turlock’s Regional Industrial Park as the City steadily draws in large industrial facilities.

“As our City Manager has stated before, Turlock is on track to becoming the Silicone Valley of the high-tech food processing industry,” said Lazar, as he discussed Turlock’s Blue Diamond facility and the plans announced by Hilmar Cheese. “He coined that phrase, and I think that it’s certainly true.”

Partnerships with organizations such as the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce have also helped strengthen Turlock’s economic recovery, says Lazar, as they work together to support business development and job creation within the community. 

According to Lazar, developments in the business community are not the only achievements made by the City, as he acknowledged the successes made in other city departments such as public safety.

“The opening of the new public safety facility was made possible over a six year process, where the police and fire departments worked alongside city staff to develop a facility that was based on assessments to meet the current and future needs of Turlock,” said Lazar. “Additionally, crime prevention has seen an increase, as well as the number of neighborhood watch groups and attendance in our National Night Out.”

Theft related crimes have seen an increase in Turlock, however, as Lazar pointed out the capacity issues local jails are experiencing due to realignment. As a result, Lazar shared that the Turlock Police Department has increased their probation efforts to help offset the impacts from early inmate releases due to overcapacity.

Other prioritizations in the City of Turlock include water and transportation issues, as the Council considers various measures on both topics this year, including water rate increases and a possible countywide transportation tax.

“The drought is on the forefront of everyone’s concerns. Over my eight years as mayor, we’ve taken bold steps in water conservation, such as installing water meters that saw a significant reduction in water usage,” said Lazar. “Roads will also be a big issue in 2014, as we consider various options in the city, and a countywide transportation tax that would help stabilize road conditions. If the countywide transportation tax is approved, I will make sure that Turlock got its fair share of the funds.”

To echo Lazar’s sentiments, Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa also touched on the road improvements and the countywide tax, as he advocated that it would help enhance the local economy.

“I’m not one for taxes, but I am strongly for this transportation tax,” said Chiesa. “As the county, we don’t create jobs, we make it so that we don’t get in the way of private enterprise. But what we can give you is quality and reliable transportation to get to and from work, and help boost the economy.”

Other areas highlighted by Chiesa included realignment, the County’s new Psychiatric Health Facility, water issues, unemployment, and healthcare.

“The county doesn’t win without the cities winning,” said Chiesa, noting Supervisor Jim DeMartini’s recent State of the County address.

Although there are still improvements to be made, the general consensus among all the speakers during the breakfast is that Turlock has lead the way for economic recovery within the region.

“Turlock is the prime example of private and public sectors being equally yoked for the purpose of economic growth,” said Stanislaus Alliance CEO Dave White. “It’s a great model not only for the rest of the county, but for the State….Be proud of who we are. We should love our community, and be proud of our community.”