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Lathrop selling point: Plenty of sewer capacity
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LATHROP — Hoping to rejuvenate its economic base, Lathrop City Council members are eager to spread the word that businesses will be welcomed with open arms in the city.

Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal said he wants everyone concerned to know that the city has wastewater services available to accommodate new businesses that would like to move in to town.

His comment was part of a recent council discussion on the city’s launching of a “economic development strategic plan” designed to drum up economic growth in the community’s business sector which, like many places throughout the country, has suffered fiscal erosion in the wake of a recession fueled by a real estate industry in shambles. Lathrop, in fact, is among the top areas in San Joaquin County — and nationally, for that matter — where the mortgage meltdown has resulted in record-high numbers of foreclosed homes. A drive around town attests to that, especially in the new residential developments in the West Lathrop area, where once-green and lush lawns have turned into brown patches with “bank-owned, for sale” signs dominating the front yards. Homes that, at one time, were sold as high as $750,000 are now being offered to bargain hunters for as low as nearly a third of that price. Another sign of these sluggish economic times hitting the western section of the city where the building boom reached its peak as recently as five years ago was the closure of the first restaurant in this side of town just a stone’s throw from City Hall on Towne Centre Drive. Its opening about three years ago was much heralded by city officials.

The economic plan discussed at the meeting was not really new. The mayor City Council got it started last year with different members appointed to it. This time, the new team has new members who have been appointed by Mayor Kristy Sayles. The mayor herself is a member of the team as well.

Among the names on the roster are Susan Dell’Osso of River Islands, Steve Campbell of CBC Steel Manufacturing, former mayor Mac Freeman, Lighthouse Community Church pastor Tim Voogd,  Lathrop entrepreneur and one-time mayor candidate J. Chaka Santos, council member Martha Salcedo, and Mary Kennedy-Bracken with the Lathrop Chamber of Commerce.

Among the goals and strategies prepared by the team to stimulate the city’s sluggish economy:

• attracting new businesses and helping in the retention of businesses already existing,

• developing a conducive industrial and commercial land base to attract industries, retail, and office commercial establishments,

• expanding infrastructure and other essential services that would enhance the timely development of new businesses, and,

• promoting a positive community image.

The council is expected to further review the strategic plan prepared by the team and to officially adopt it at a future regular meeting.