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Industrial Park: Job generating success story

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Industrial Park: Job generating success story

Workers from Balach Enterprises work on the 6,500-square-foot office addition to the B.F. Funsten operations in Manteca Industrial Park.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED October 3, 2009 2:53 a.m.

It may not be as flashy as Spreckels Park and it doesn’t hold the promise of thousands upon thousands of new jobs like Austin Business Park, but the Manteca Industrial Park is still chugging along providing well over 1,000 jobs even in today’s shaky economy.

Employers such as B.F. Funsten, Carl’s Jr., MCA Microwave, Mountain Valley Express, Alhambra Water, and California Stairway – to name a few of the firms within the Manteca Industrial Park - have proven to be steady employers.

“It’s worked out great,” said Mark Oliver who served on the Manteca City Council back in the 1970s when the city created the industrial park that was jump started with a federal grant and willing landowners led by the late George Dadasovich.

Oliver noted that some of the industrial park employers that are subcontractors for the Fremont NUMNI plant are going to be hit hard by the auto assembly firm’s pending closing.

It is one reason why City Manager Steve Pinkerton along with Community Development Director Mark Nelson and economic development experts are meeting this Monday from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. with representatives of Manteca’s 75 biggest private sector employers.

 The gathering in Conference Room “B” in the Tahoe Building, 1783 Yosemite Ave., behind Kaiser Hospital will include:

•A short talk by Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford about the importance of retaining and helping existing businesses.

•The state of the city’s finances and services offered by Pinkerton.

•Information on the city’s one-stop permit process, fee deferral program, and status for new business in Manteca provided by Nelson.

•The status of the San Joaquin County Enterprise Zone and targeted employment area plus notations on the summary of benefits that will be offered by specialist Ed Wanket.

•A question and answer session.

Manteca intends to aggressively work to retain and help local employers grow.

Funsten is one example. When the firm indicated they were going to pull up stakes and move to bigger quarters in Stockton on the belief it would cost less to expand there, city leaders met with company officials and outlined a plan that made more sense for Funsten to stay put, expand here and not only protect 130 jobs but possible add up to 25 more.

The city also fast tracked the permit process that is allowing it to stick to an aggressive schedule to be ready for occupancy in December.

Oliver noted small employers have proven to be the most effective when it comes to long-term employment for Manteca.

At one time Indy Electronics – that morphed into Aphatec and then Turnkey Solutions – had more than 600 workers at the now shuttered plant on Industrial Park Drive. Meanwhile, distribution operations such as Carl’s Jr. have remained constant employers and other small concerns such as Mountain Valley Express have increased employment opportunities.

Oliver said there were some critics of the plan to create the industrial park that is bounded by the Highway 120 Bypass on the south, Main Street on the west and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the north.

“It really was a no-brainer,” Oliver said. “The property owners weren’t going anywhere with the land and they were willing to sell it in pieces as parcels were bought.”

The federal government funds put infrastructure in place needed to make the project viable.

The first buyer of property was Charles Giles, the founder of Mountain Valley Express.

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