One year ago, the Turlock City Council voted to establish the Mayor's Economic Development Task Force. This team of over 20 business and community leaders was tasked with identifying strategies to make Turlock a stronger economic competitor.
"The task force was a great creation by the City and very timely to coincide with the slow return of the economy in the Valley," said Mayor John Lazar.
After months of work, the task force is in the final stages of tweaking its Economic Development Strategic Plan before presenting it to the City Council. The goal is for the strategic plan to be used as a guideline for the City when making decisions that affect economic development, as well as a call to action to implement policies that could attract and retain business in Turlock.
Throughout the month of August, the task force will be reviewing the strategic plan's overall goal and the seven individual goals stated under four areas of focus: Site Preparedness, Business Development, Education and Quality of Life.
"I think the committees have really been working together to reach the goal of creating a working document for the economic welfare of the community," said task force chair and Turlock Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva.
The only thing left to do now is assign tasks.
"The next step is, over the life of the plan, articulating who's going to do what, when and how," said Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for housing and economic development.
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.