It took a bending of the rules, but the Mayor’s Economic Taskforce finally approved the final draft of its Economic Development Strategic Plan at a second meeting Tuesday that was called after a meeting was cancelled last week due to lack of quorum.
Facing a second meeting within one week still three taskforce members shy of the 13 required to make a quorum, Vice Chair Mike Brem declared the meeting official citing the need to advance the strategic plan to the City Council prior to the Oct. 28 meeting at which it will be presented by Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt.
“We’ve given task force members the chance to be here and they’re not here… and it’s an important document that we want to get to the council,” explained Brem.
In 2013, the Turlock City Council voted to establish the Mayor's Economic Development Task Force, a team of over 20 business and community leaders who gathered monthly to identify ways in which to make Turlock a stronger economic competitor. The result? The Economic Development Strategic Plan.
“This document is a reflection of the thoughtful reflections of diverse community members and that makes it really authentic for our community,” said Pitt on Tuesday. “I think all of us have come to recognize that economic development is a team sport and there is a role for all of us to play.”
The final plan, while anchored by seven core goals for a more vibrant Turlock, has given the task force members a forum at which to discuss how to foster growth beneficial to all stakeholders in the community. One theme central to improvement has been increasing the ease at which to do business with and in the City of Turlock, something that has been steadily improving over the past several years according to Pitt.
“We might have to say ‘no’ to a project like another city but it is how you do it and how you treat people that is important,” explained Pitt.
“’No’ is just not good customer service,” added City Manager Roy Wasden.
According to Pitt, the task force has been refining and updating the plan in recent weeks focusing in particular on ways to benefit from industrial clustering as well as transportation to Interstate 5 via the south county corridor.
Industrial clustering involves attempting to create links between existing and new businesses in the community by considering resourceful ways in which to promote beneficial relationships amidst businesses, such as a plastic company manufacturing packaging for a local food company’s product.
“This will enhance your competitiveness as a city to be able to offer this and can in turn reduce your transportation costs as a business,” explained Pitt.
Transportation to the I-5 south county corridor is being considered in order to leverage the strengths which Turlock boasts — available recycled water, competitive power costs, and low cost available land — against the town’s geographic location which may be causing it to lose out on business. According to the strategic plan, efforts are underway between Turlock and Stanislaus County and City of Patterson to develop West Main Street as an east-west expressway that would connect Turlock more efficiently to I-5.
“Connecting to I-5 is a big deal for Bay Area industry making it higher on the priority list for what we need to work towards,” said Pitt.
The final Economic Development Strategic Plan will be presented on Oct. 28 to the City Council and available online on the City of Turlock’s website.
Mayor's Economic Development Task Force 2014 Vision
"We will support an economically and socially diverse population, and a vibrant business community through partnerships and by fostering development that offers people the ability to live and work in Turlock."
Continue to develop Turlock as a great place to live and work.
Goal 1: Fully improved sites and buildings will be available for businesses to start up, expand and relocate in Turlock.
To reach this goal the City will conduct an annual development impact fee review and cost of service analysis in an effort to be a leader in innovative methods in permit processing and getting applicants to succeed with their projects.
Goal 2: Turlock economic development partners will work in a coordinated manner to increase job opportunities in the city through the agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and medical services cluster.
A main focus of this goal is to define and build on the relationships between the City , the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau. The task force has also identified a need to develop marketing materials to ensure Turlock's visibility.
Goal 3: Downtown Turlock will be the business, cultural and civic center of the city.
Working with the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association to maintain downtown, developing a walking map of the downtown that lists parking, public venues and shopping and continuing the Commercial Building Improvement program highlight action plans for this goal.
Goal 4: The community will host a wide variety of tourism, community and sporting events and activities.
"We are working really hard to expand getting information to tourists and visitors on what they can do in town," said Silva, speaking on behalf of the Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Goal 5: The City of Turlock will support entrepreneurial and small business activities.
To reach this goal, the City will be tasked with encouraging such efforts as business incubators and other platforms that nurture new business startups as well as micro-enterprises to grow and flourish.
Goal 6: Our educational system will build a citizenry which is prepared for the 21st century workforce.
A lack of skilled workers was identified by the task force in February as a weakness in the area. A 2009 survey found that within Stanislaus County, only 14.1 percent of residents age 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher, leaving a majority of the local workforce ineligible for many high-skilled jobs.
To help further educational opportunities in the area, the task force is recommending Modesto Junior College offer concurrent enrollment at local high schools and offer evening classes at Turlock high school campuses.
A greater partnership with California State University, Stanislaus and the local business community is another action seeking to further opportunities in vocational direction and planning.
The task force also believes internships and job shadowing experiences that expose high school students to employment opportunities in the community will be beneficial.
Quality of Life
Goal 7: Turlock will be a leader in the Central Valley in access to art, music and other cultural events.
The task force believes that encouraging development of cultural activities will entice business leaders to want to move to Turlock and keep give current residents a reason to stay.
— All of these goals and action plans are part of the Economic Development Strategic Draft Plan and are still being reviewed by the Mayor's Economic Development Task Force. A finalized plan will be presented to the City Council by the end of 2014.