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Signs of the times: Manteca is walking the walk

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POSTED July 29, 2009 1:05 a.m.


Here’s a shocker.


The folks at Manteca City Hall are sitting down with the business community – essentially groups of businesses among the top 100 employers – to see what the city can do to make doing business in Manteca easier .


It’s a 180-degree turn from just a few years ago when folks at 1001 W. Center St. talked the talk and that was it.


The first group to meet with City Manager Steve Pinkerton and the Community Development staff were the four remaining new car dealers – Cabral Chrysler Jeep Dodge Suzuki, Kia Country, Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury, and Manteca Auto Plaza GM Buick.
They shared details on what they can obtain by being in the enterprise zone areas of Manteca as created by the State of California.


They also discussed various incentives the city could participate in to up vehicle sales at the dealerships.


It probably won’t be the $500 gift card that Tracy auto dealers were offering through the City of Tracy for buyers of new vehicles. The program was saddled with problems ranging from customer service issues to the firm doing it going to the wayside.


Even so, at least one dealer noted it was a bit of fresh air.


The city, as an example, is willing to work with them by using common sense to make rules flexible on signage.


This isn’t a small detail. The late father-son partnership of Bill and Jerry Sexton fought the city for a full year after their Chevrolet dealership was opened on Spreckels Avenue to get the big free standing sign on the corner. As punishment when the sign permit was approved after 15 months, a planner who is no longer with the city put the hammer down on a small freestanding sign along Highway 99 in the almond orchards as you approached Yosemite Avenue.


To make matters even worse, the city in a letter demanded Al Nunes remove the illegal sign on his property. A few small problems with the city’s “pro business” escapade of a few years back.


Nunes didn’t own the property and jurisdiction for the sign was in Caltrans’ court plus the bureaucrats at City Hall could have cared less about six other “illegal” signs along the same stretch of freeway.


The reason they gave was typical of how Manteca operated for years – those with signs they deemed illegal weren’t asking for a sign permit.
Pinkerton said other groups of businesses such as distribution centers are on their list to meet with once a year noting it is wise to promote job retention.


“Most new jobs are created by businesses already here,” Pinkerton said.

CHAMBER MAPS
COMING IN 30 DAYS

One advertiser who paid cash upfront a long time ago refers to it as the phantom Manteca Chamber of Commerce map of Manteca.


It was promised in April but delays caused by the firm printing it including laying off half  their staff has been responsible for it being delayed, according to Manteca Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Debby Moorhead.


“We’ve been told we will have it in 30 days,” Moorhead said.


The chamber has been out of maps for months and gets two to three requests a day.


They are having 10,000 copies printed with Moorhead noting that the chamber doesn’t make anything of the advertising sales.


GOING FROM ‘CAN’T
DO’ TO “CAN DO’


Manteca’s Community Development Department is moving heaven and earth to keep B.R. Funstein in town.


Manteca leaders promised to expedite the review process to facilitate an 87,000 square-foot expansion of their warehouse at South Main and Industrial Park Drive plus 7,200 square feet of additional office space.


The firm that wholesales flooring material was getting ready to pull up stakes and go to larger quarters in Stockton. Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Mallory noticed the sign go up about the move, talked to his wife Suzanne Mallory who is the city’s finance director who in turn told her boss City Manager Steve Pinkerton.


The city knocked on the firm’s door, found out they had been given some erroneous information on fees, and showed that it would cost significantly less to stay in Manteca than to move to Stockton. They also promised to express process review of the process to allow them to be in larger digs by December.


The foundation and grading permits were issued Friday and work started Monday.


That means Manteca will save 130 jobs.


This coming from a department just two years ago boasted it had a “can-do”  pro-business attitude that was mocked by developer after developer as being a “can’t do” department that “gave you the business.”

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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