Turlock Council Approves Economic Development Task Force

Alex Cantatore

As the economy rebounds, the City of Turlock looks to capitalize.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council unanimously approved the creation of a new Mayor's Economic Development Task Force, tasked with drafting a plan to spur job creation and business growth.

“I am very excited about this,” Turlock Mayor John Lazar said. “I think we are just a lightning rod in the Central Valley.”

Lazar spoke of how he recently attended commencement ceremonies at California State University, Stanislaus. The stage was full of bright-eyed graduates, excited to enter the workforce. Yet high joblessness rates in the Central Valley – 12.7 percent in Stanislaus County alone – could stymie those dreams.

Lazar first laid out the need for an economic development initiative in his State of the City address, delivered in February. The resultant task force will look to update Turlock's economic development strategic plan. The city's last such plan was drafted in 2003, an economic time far-removed from 2013.

“This is a really important time, as we start to see our economy recover, that we are poised and ready to take the next step,” said Maryn Pitt, Assistant to the Turlock City Manager for Housing and Ecomonic Development.

Turlock City Councilmember Bill DeHart agreed with Pitt, saying the time is now to “advance the community.”

“I think this is the perfect time to initiate, to support completely, to truly develop that team that can take us into that next period of time,” DeHart said.

That team will be comprised of 15 to 20 members, representing all walks of life and all parts of Turlock. Each councilmember will appoint one member from a pool of applicants, with Lazar to appoint the remaining members.

The group is expected to feature an “all-star collaboration” of representatives from the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association, and California State University, Stanislaus, in addition to members of the general public.

The strategic planning document will likely build on Turlock's economic past of agriculture, while looking forward to the future. Pitt said the city would “wage war for jobs,” bringing new industry to Turlock.

“We intend to capitalize on Turlock's strengths as a highly desirable place to live, work, and play,” Pitt said.

Those interested in joining the task force must apply by 5 p.m. Aug. 16. Appointments will be made no later than Aug. 27.

The task force will meet monthly from September until September 2014, finishing its work no later than Dec. 31, 2014.

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