Turlock is an economic force to be reckoned with in the county, a fact not surprising to those gathered at the annual State of the Chamber Membership Breakfast on Thursday.
Members of the Chamber were, however, given a more concrete understanding of the city's economic growth by Stanislaus Business Alliance CEO David White, who referred to Turlock as “the shining star of the county” in regards to its unemployment rate, and credited Turlock as a thriving community based on statistics gathered from the Alliance’s 2014 Synchronistic Survey.
White noted that this survey allows the Alliance to build a relationship of trust with a company, understand their issues, discover industry trends, and understand their direction, value and growth potential. Companies ranked the City in several categories like utilities, public safety, public services, education, employment, and more.
“By the way, we have the scores for the entire county and Turlock by and large exceeded the county in almost every score,” said White.
Turlock's business success is also seen in the recent growth in the Chamber of Commerce membership. Chamber CEO and President Sharon Silva not only touted the multitude of programs and events the Chamber is offering, but also noted the organization’s efforts to attract more businesses to join.
“One of the things we are now doing is rebuilding our membership. We’re close to 500 again but in a community of this size, with about 5,000 businesses, we should at least be around 600 or 700,” said Silva.
Events the Chamber hosts include several breakfasts with local legislators such as the Economic Trends Breakfast in October and Eggs and Issues in August with local Congressman Jeff Denham (R – Turlock). By developing a Young Professionals committee, spearheading a Healthy Turlock Expo and donating thousands of dollars through the annual Ag Scholarship Luncheon, the Chamber makes year-round efforts to support business in the community at all levels. However, Silva was quick to credit the support of the members as integral to the organization’s success.
“We’re here because of you,” said Silva Thursday morning.
Silva also noted that the Chamber is collaborating with California State University, Stanislaus, the City of Turlock, Covenant Village, and Emanuel Medical Center to remake a video that was created several years ago to promote Turlock.
“We’re going to be able to use it in all of these different areas for economic development,” said Silva. “It’s all about partnerships and working together and we have great partners.”
However, there was one area in regards to growth that unsurprisingly proved less than exemplary: roads.
“The city of Turlock was rated lower than the county at large on streets and roads,” said White regarding the survey results.
All aspects of roads rated very low and while White said he is not an advocate for taxes, he did note it was unfortunate that the proposed city tax did not pass as good roads are integral to the city’s business community. He said he is hopeful a potential self-help county tax that could be on the ballot in 2016 will pass.
“I’m not an advocate for taxes, but I am an advocate for infrastructure,” said White. “This is something that is really important to our businesses, that we have good infrastructure.”
Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa said he “agreed with Mr. White on this 100 percent” and as a proponent of the self-help tax he is hopeful it will appear on the 2016 ballot as well. In the meantime, he said to unfortunately prepare for the worse.
“I can tell you this year, however bad your roads are, they are going to be worse,” said Chiesa, noting there is an anticipated 22 percent drop in state transportation funding partially due to the dip in gasoline prices thus affecting the excise tax. “It might only be a one year drop, but expect every city to have less money to be spent on fixing roads going forward.”