The Chowchilla City Council took strides at its May 25 meeting to attract industrial businesses to the city and boost jobs by adopting business-friendly policies.
The council passed three resolutions aimed at future development that will help fill building vacancies, reduce business start-up costs and develop a plan for business land use.
The city will hire QK, Inc. for $150,000 to develop an industrial “blueprint” for the city, which includes about 2,000 acres of land zoned for industrial use with easy access to Highway 99 and Highway 152. City staff is recommending council members focus on land north and south of the Berenda Slough and the need for infrastructure, such as sewer, water, industrial waste, broadband and roads.
During the development of the plan, city staff will look to the city of Turlock and its Westside Industrial Specific Plan as a model.
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“This industrial region is like a hidden jewel,” said Brian Haddix, the city administrator, in a statement. “It is well positioned geographically, it has competitive land values, all it has needed is blueprint for growth – and the new Chowchilla Industrial Specific Plan will do just that.”
The council also adopted a resolution to reduce start-up costs for business construction. Another resolution adopted by the council will provide a 50 percent refund of the city’s 1 percent share of sales tax for the first three years of businesses that choose to move into longtime vacant buildings.
City leaders hope to start collecting revenue if businesses move into the vacant buildings, which currently provide no jobs to the community and generate no sales tax. Staff will begin notifying owners of vacant buildings and encouraging them to post notices about potential tax savings.
“This is a major step toward making our industrial lands shovel ready,” Mayor Mary Gaumnitz said in a statement. “We have already honed a business-friendly environment with economic incentives that make Chowchilla very competitive, we have cut our permit turnaround time to under three weeks, and our staff bring a friendly, hands-on approach to guiding business though the development process.”
City staff also plan to engage in other business marketing strategies, such as visiting major e-commerce businesses and promoting the city and its location.