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January 8, 2010

Merced County responds to chambers of commerce criticism of red tape

Merced County officials cited several programs as evidence of continued economic development in a letter recently mailed to the Merced County Chambers of Commerce Roundtable.

Merced County officials cited several programs as evidence of continued economic development in a letter recently mailed to the Merced County Chambers of Commerce Roundtable.

The letter was signed by Deidre Kelsey and Jerry O'Banion, chairwoman and vice-chairman of the Board of Supervisors. It was addressed to Steve Gallichio, chairman of the chambers' roundtable. It came in response to that organization's "letter of nonconfidence" in county economic policies.

"Merced County remains committed to improving the quality of life for our residents and businesses," the Dec. 14 letter stated. "Over the past several years, we have undertaken a number of positive changes that have improved services to the business community."

The letter outlined a preliminary application review process for new businesses, faster application processing at the Planning and Community Development Department and a new enterprise zone that offers hiring and tax credits as recent economic development successes.

The letter from the chambers had lamented the lack of a one-stop location for all departments involved in issuing permits for development.

"For a number of reasons including cost, location and availability, none of these locations have proven satisfactory," the letter read.

The county is also considering the former county hospital as a location for this service.

The Merced County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. It's the board's first open meeting since the response letter was sent.

Reporter Danielle E. Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or dgaines@mercedsun-star.com.

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