The general consensus amongst business leaders in the region is that Turlock is in good shape. As the national economy continues to recover from the 2008 recession, the city has continually maintained its efforts to boost the local economy.
One of these efforts includes the recently created Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force, a 25-member entity committed to seeking ways to attract new businesses in addition to maintaining and expanding existing ones.
Meeting once a month, the group was joined by the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance on Tuesday evening as the two made plans to work together to help keep Turlock a prosperous community.
“We’re here as a resource for you,” said Stanislaus Alliance CEO Jeff Rowe to the members of the task force. “We currently have over 20 active proposals from interested businesses to come to our region, several of which are interested in the City of Turlock. The economy is turning around, and hopefully, we can land some of those. We definitely have a good shot with many of them.”
Rowe praised Turlock’s Regional Industrial Park, noting that having shovel-ready land is vital in landing new businesses.
“Shovel-ready cities such as Turlock have a clear advantage,” said Rowe. “Businesses are looking for sites where utilities are already routed; environmental impact reports and zoning are completed. If those processes are going to take longer than a year to get done, then they’ll probably pass you up and continue searching elsewhere.”
Maryn Pitt, the assistant to the city manager for economic development and housing, echoed Rowe’s observation, and briefly shared information regarding new businesses making inquiries with the City for possible development. One business the City is currently talking with, Pitt shared, would require 300 acres of land while bringing around 6,000 jobs to the city.
“That is one of the strengths of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park,” said Pitt. “With the success of Blue Diamond, and having that land shovel-ready for them, we have really taken that to heart and continue to talk with new businesses.”
Landing large companies can be difficult for smaller California cities, explained Rowe, as many other states have fewer regulations and offer more competitive incentives, such as free land or property tax rebates.
“Most businesses won’t come to California unless they have to,” said Rowe. “Overall, Turlock is in good shape, and probably the best shape within the county, with Patterson being a close second.”
The members of the task force worked together during Tuesday’s meeting to create three ad-hoc committees in which members will work together throughout the month. The three committees, including Business Attraction, Business Retention and Expansion, and Marketing, will report their findings and efforts to the entire group during the monthly meeting at City Hall. After the course of one year, the entire group hopes to submit an economic development plan to the City Council.
“We really need to start moving forward,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva, who serves as the task force chair. “We need to get ourselves in a position to enhance how we showcase what our community has to offer.”
Mayor John Lazar gave his gratitude and encouragement to the group, saying that the collaborative effort could have a positive impact on the city.
“We have lots of aspirations and hopes that we can realize so long as we continue to work together,” said Lazar. “I thank you all for being here and putting your time and energy into bettering our city.”
The next Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.