Mike Morowit is seeking another four years on the City Council to continue efforts to position Manteca to aggressively go after Bay Area business — tourism dollars and job investment.
The 52-year incumbent kicked off his campaign for one of two seats on the November 2018 election on Thursday at the Emory Hall. Among those in attendance was the only other announced candidate — Manteca Planning Commission member Jose Nuno — as well as fellow incumbent Richard Silverman who has yet to make a decision whether he’ll seek a second term.
Morowit is one of two council members of the subcommittee — the other is Mayor Steve DeBrum — that has been involved with negotiations for the Great Wolf Resort project that includes a 500-room hotel and indoor waterpark.
“It’s more than just a waterpark,” Morowit said. “It’s a big game changer.”
Morowit sees it as a cornerstone of a long-term strategy for job growth and diversifying the local economy, for Manteca getting the attention of Bay Area business decision makers, and for pumping up city revenue to fund additional municipal services.
“It’s a six-story calling card for Manteca,” Morowit noted of the possibility of Manteca landing Northern California’s first indoor waterpark.
He believes the waterpark — along with the rest of the envisioned family entertainment zone, the McKinley Avenue interchange breaking ground within the next two years, and the Atherton Drive opening up the 120 Bypass corridor for commercial and health services seeking regional reach — will usher in a new age of strong job growth.
He called it a niche that sets Manteca apart in the region. Added with its central location — Manteca is within 20 minutes of 600,000 consumers in Tracy, Modesto, and Stockton — he believes the course the city is taking will lure regional investment as well as the fabled 100-mile draw of 17 million consumers that brought Bass Pro Shops and Big League Dreams and may allow the city to snag Great Wolf as well.
“Manteca would make sense for a mini-hospital and other healthcare services,” Morowit said, adding there is an abundance of freeway frontage along the 120 Bypass with easy access every mile for five miles once McKinley interchange is built that provides unpatrolled freeway access for the region.
A number or regional concerns such as Frito-Lay and J&M Equipment have moved to Manteca in recent years to increase efficiency allowing them to shutter separate operations in Stockton and Modesto.
Morowit said as Bay Area people start visiting Manteca — Great Wolf puts its annual draw at 500,000 — it will allow the city to share its story. That includes having a well-educated workforce with close to 60 percent of the population commuting to jobs in the Bay Area plus having much less expensive land costs as well as being equal distance tor major NorCal cities such as San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
Morowit noted Great Wolf would create a wide array of employment opportunities with its 500 jobs while their guests are likely to access other attractions that currently exist and could be built in Manteca once an indoor waterpark resort is established.
He is hoping the city can create a domino effect with Great Wolf that will help Manteca residents who currently head over the Altamont Pass for employment to secure similar jobs here so they can spend more time with their families and improve their quality of life.”
“We have a great workforce,” Morowit said.
He noted Manteca needs to get the attention of decision makers in the Bay Area and to market Manteca to them. Morowit believes Great Wolf with its $5 million media advertising for their resorts would help accomplish that goal.
Morowit also serves with DeBrum on the council subcommittee working with Manteca Unified to explore joint uses at the Manteca High campus as $40 million in modernization and expansion occurs in the next few years.
“The students that go there are also city residents,” Morowit said of Manteca High. “The school is used during the day but not in the evenings and on weekends.”
Morowit added that the same taxpayers are being called upon to fund the school district and the city so it makes sense to avoid duplication and to share costs where it makes sense.
He said a number of things are on the table including providing Manteca High with complete control of Garfield Avenue where it slices through the campus.
During the past three years on the council, Morowit said he is pleased that the city has:
ueliminated structural budget deficits.
uhired two community resource officers on the streets addressing homeless and quality of life issues.
uhired more police officers, adding that more positions are still needed.
uwas able to retain the six firefighters hired with federal grant money that runs out at the end of the month.
ufully staffed the Lathrop Road fire station.
ucompleted partial design work for a fifth fire station at Atherton Drive and Woodward avenue.
usecured 5.11 Tactical with its 270 jobs and Amazon Prime with 90 plus jobs. Both firms will be open for business in Manteca in the coming months. That is in addition to a number of other jobs created at smaller firms.
uwork is starting on three other major spec buildings designed to land distribution center jobs.
unew businesses that have, or in the process of building in Manteca, including Petco, Ulta Beauty, and Sizzler’s Restaurant among others. He noted Sizzler’s represented a $6 million investment in Manteca.
uhousing growth that continues to lead the region.
Morowit is a Manteca merchant who served on the planning commission and the citizen’s oversight committee for the public safety tax prior to being elected to the council in 2014.
He also is involved with the community service endeavors of the Manteca Rotary Club and is also a member of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce.