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City Council tapping private sector for economic development panel

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Manteca hopes to build on its success story with BR Funsten to make the city more business friendly.

HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin/

POSTED September 12, 2017 1:29 a.m.

Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum’s effort to forge a stronger working relationship with the business community to retain and attract new jobs is moving forward.
The City Council last week blessed plans to form a seven-member City of Manteca Economic Development Committee consisting of private and public sector members charged with being involved with the economic, social and suitable well-being of the commercial and industrial employers already here or planning to locate to Manteca plus other related issues the council may ask them to explore.
The last time the city partnered in such a manner with the private sector it lead to the creation of the Manteca Industrial Park authority in the 1970s. The formation of the authority then led to the development of the city’s first business park along Industrial Park Drive northeast of the 120 Bypass and Main Street interchange.
DeBrum, who has long advocated a more formal cohesive partnership of the city and business community, has expressed the belief such a committee could be instrumental in stepping up the city’s game in securing and retaining jobs.
It was a member of the private sector — then Second Harvest Food bank CEO Mike Mallory — that brought the fact BR Funsten was looking elsewhere to expand to the city’s attention in 2009. BR Funsten besides being a significant employer is also one of the city’s biggest sources of sales tax as its sales office for flooring products it distributes to retailers is located at Main and Industrial Park Drive along with its distribution center.
Once they were aware of the firm’s plans to move, the city contacted them and asked what their needs were. The result was a fast tracking of an expansion project of 86,430 square feet that took less than  five months to go from plan submittal to final inspection  — a third of the usual time.
BR Funsten — that had moved into the former Dana Corp. building in 1997 —  wanted to take advantage of the economic downturn to consolidate distribution operations since construction costs are down.
They initially had a contractor drop by city hall to see what the costs would be to expand on the current site. When the engineer told them what the fees would be – in excess of $1 million – BR Funsten started looking at available buildings on Arch Road next to Lever Brothers in Stockton and put up a for sale sign.
After being contacted by Mallory and talking with BR Funsten’s management, the city quickly determined misinformation had been given to the contractor and found the real fee costs were less than $400,000. The firm ran the city’s figures past an architect and determined it would cost less to stay put and expand.
The firm had a tight schedule, though. They needed to be out of their Fairfield location prior to year’s end when the lease expires. They also were renting 30,000 square feet on Moffat Boulevard in Spreckels Park that they didn’t want to extend a lease on into 2010. That prompted the city to devise a game plan to expedite the approval process.
Funsten just recently completed a second expansion at the Manteca location.
DeBrum advocates a closer working relationship with the private sector to allow Manteca to be better positioned to snare new employers as well as retain existing jobs.
The city is currently seeking applications to fill three of the positions from “business stakeholders” for possible appointment to the board that would met the third Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. Applicants must be a resident of the City of Manteca and a member of the real estate and business community. Appointments to the ad hoc committee will be for two year terms.
Applicants must be submitted to the City Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. City Clerk Lisa Blackmon can be contacted at 209.456.8017 for additional information.
The other four members would be:
uA City Council member appointed by the council.
uA Planning Commission member appointed by the commission.
uA Manteca Chamber of Commerce board or staff member appointed by the chamber.
uA San Joaquin Partnership board or staff member appointed by the Partnership.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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