Manteca is ending a 30-year plus relationship with the San Joaquin Partnership that was supposed to help bring private sector jobs to the city.
And the annual $35,000 the city has been paying as a participating city could be wedded with $48,000 currently being paid to a grant writing firm and $58,000 to a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm to fund an in-house economic development department using the combined $141,000 if Mayor Ben Cantu has his way.
The City Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 not to fund the Partnership in the fiscal year starting July 1.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead, who was unable to attend the late afternoon special meeting due to a scheduling conflict, has been leading the charge for the past six years to cut off funding to the Partnership using the argument that in 30 years they were not responsible for Manteca landing a single private sector job within city boundaries.
“That’s the right thing to do,” Moorhead said when contacted Tuesday evening. “No more wasting taxpayers’ dollars.”
Two years ago Moorhead estimated Manteca had invested close to $900,000 with the Partnership with nothing tangible to show for it within the city limits.
The argument for supporting the Partnership has been that Manteca residents are able to get employment at firms the quasi-public organization helps bring to Tracy, Stockton, Lathrop, and even Lodi.
Partnership representatives appearing before the council in the past have argued they have been unable to help bring jobs to Manteca because the city has no “shovel ready” business parks with utilities in the ground or spec buildings.
That, however, isn’t exactly correct. When spec buildings have been built in Spreckels Park private sector commercial/warehouse leasing firms have secured firms to fill them as tenants.
CenterPoint Properties did not need any help in securing Cothrall Laundry, 5.11 Tactical, and Penske Logistics that operates Lowe’s Home Improvement distribution center at their north Manteca business park that they made shovel ready. CenterPoint apparently has another firm lined up to locate a distribution center they have submitted plans to the city to build on a parcel between 5.11 Tactical and Penske.
Even more to the point Scannell Properties recently completed a $16.7 million investment in a 286,072-square-foot spec building in Spreckels Park that they secured tenants for on their own.
They are now working on developing a 229-acre business park on the southeast corner of Airport Way and Louise Avenue to build 4.9 million square feet of distribution-style buildings including a 1.3 million square-foot and 1.265 million square-foot structures. They plan to start construction of the first phase of buildings in October.
Scannell, founded in 1991, has seven offices across the United States and Europe. Last year alone they have constructed over 8 million square feet valued in excess of $1 billion are very savvy at lining up their own tenants.
On Tuesday, Councilman Gary Singh alluded to the jobs that have been created in Manteca in business parks such as those previously listed as well as Medline and Amazon Prime when he noted that even when Manteca had opportunities in place for the Partnership to work to secure employers that they didn’t.
Councilman Jose Nuño, in making his motion, said it doesn’t preclude San Joaquin Partnership for re-applying for funds a year from now.
In the past when Moorhead as well as Singh pushed to have Partnership funding cut during an initial budget discussion as they did on Tuesday, the Partnership appeared at the formal budget adoption to successfully protect the $35,000 funding.
They could try it again this time but the three “yes” votes they garnered before — Steve DeBrum, Richard Silverman, and Mike Morowit are no longer on the council.
The county’s other six cities — Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Escalon, Ripon, and Lathrop — belong to the Partnership as well as San Joaquin County and a number of private concerns. They all make annual contributions to support Partnership efforts.
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