Some of Manteca’s political leaders are growing restless when it comes to what former Mayor Carlon Perry once described as the three most important issues facing the city: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead during Thursday’s council budget workshop balked at sending the San Joaquin Partnership $35,000 in the fiscal year starting July 1 to help bring jobs to Manteca and nearby communities.
“What have they done for Manteca?” Moorhead asked.
No one could answer Moorhead’s question about specific jobs the Partnership helped bring to Manteca despite the city investing more than $600,000 in the organization since the early 1990s.
The dialogue concerning Moorhead’s objection to funding the Partnership again prompted Councilman Richard Silverman to point out Tracy and other cities such as Lathrop were cleaning Manteca’s clock when it came to landing jobs in the red-hot distribution center sector of the economy.
“Tracy fast tracks its projects,” Silverman said.
He noted that firms get quick answers from Tracy to what it would cost to develop spec buildings used by distribution centers and similar concerns. Silverman was critical of Manteca’s process noting the city’s fee schedules are complicated and take municipal staff a long time to sort through.
Silverman had a way to quickly correct Manteca’s slow response that he says causes it to lose out on jobs without the need to re-invent the wheel or hire a consultant.
He advocated getting a copy of Tracy’s policies and ordinances that allow them to be nimble and quick in order to snag employers and simply copy it word for word.
Mayor Steve DeBrum noted city staff has been able to make progress at getting Manteca back in the game after a successful although short run that snagged distribution centers for Ford Motor Small Parts, Lineage Logistics, Frito-Lay, and Dryer’s Ice Cream, Crothall Laundry, and several other employment centers.
He pointed to CenterPoint in northwest Manteca that has started work on a 404,657-square-foot concrete tilt-up industrial warehouse for 5.11 Tactical. The plan for Tactical 5.11 also calls for a possible 134,500 square foot addition at a later date.
CenterPoint is also moving forward on another building either as a spec building or for a client that they have yet to disclosed. That building is proposed for 1,199,997-square feet in two phases on a 63.29-acre parcel. The first phase will consist of 551,475 square feet.
The CenterPoint site can accommodate 3.1 million square feet of distribution center style buildings.
Exeter Properties is moving forward with an 848,400-square-foot structure accessed from Louise Avenue at an existing intersection controlled by a traffic signal just west of the Manteca Unified School District office complex and school farm.
Don Smail, the city’s economic specialist, when queried about the Partnership noted it was a regional effort to bring more jobs to San Joaquin County communities with the non-profit working to get firms to give Manteca a look.
“They don’t give Manteca much of a look,” Moorhead responded.
Councilman Richard Silverman said he “got the regional approach” as no one benefits if firms looking to expand or relocate “fly over San Joaquin County and go directly to the Bay Area.” That said he too wanted to see more direct Manteca benefits.
In the past when councils have discussed the Partnership funding they pointed to the regional benefit as well as the fact many Manteca residents end up working at firms that locate in Tracy, Lathrop, and Stockton that run the gamut from distribution centers for Amazon, JC Penney, Orchard Supply Hardware, United Parcel, Safeway, Super Store Industries to Restoration Hardware and Federal Express.
They also noted that while city residents get the benefit of those jobs without the city incurring expenses such as additional wear and tear on streets from more truck traffic, they miss out big time when some of the firms that locate distribution centers have their sales offices with the building as well. American Modular and BR Funsten Flooring, as an example, are two of Manteca’s biggest collectors of city sales tax.
Going out of town for jobs — even to Tracy — creates commuting costs for Manteca residents as well.
In responding to council questions about whether city staff could do what the Partnership does Smail noted it wouldn’t be as cost effective
The council decided to hold off on whether to pull the plug on Partnership funding until after a representative can make their case before them. Smail said he would work to arrange that.
Moorhead agreed to “see what they have to say” before making a final decision.
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