Friday's Chamber of Commerce breakfast included a talk by Bryan Briggs, the economic development director for the city of Ceres, who gave a brief update on the city's effort to develop an economic development strategic plan. Once adopted, the plan will be a tool to help the city attract new business and industry to Ceres and hopefully bring jobs.
Late last year the Ceres City Council voted to spend $121,100 for a contract with Urban Futures to develop an economic development strategic plan. Briggs said the plan will become a "road map" for the city to achieve its economic desires.
Marshall Linn of Urban Futures noted that with all California cities having been recently stripped of redevelopment money by state lawmakers Linn said Ceres "really needs a plan." He likened it to a football game, stating "unless you have a plan you won't win the game." Linn also made it clear that a plan won't result in an immediate interest in developing in Ceres.
The plan will assess Ceres' commercial base, strengths and weaknesses of Ceres, examine impediments to growth, analyze public infrastructure and determine which companies Ceres would have the greatest chance of landing. The plan will also outline ways the city of Ceres can retain and expand the businesses that are already here.
Briggs was asked about any businesses that Ceres has the greatest potential of landing. He replied that the county's largest base is "big ag" which is growing but also shrinking its workforce due to automation.
Briggs noted however that transportation related industries hold a possibility for Ceres' future, such as attracting another Amazon type warehouse that was snagged in the Patterson area.
"Obviously there's not too many of those out there," said Briggs, "but it's trying to look in that warehousing / transportation sector to see if there's any opportunities we may have to either take spin-off businesses from Amazon that exists now or try to attract some other type of warehousing/transportation type business."
Briggs said the city has contacted Dollar General about any chance to locate a distribution warehouse in Ceres since the company wants to open up 1,000 stores in California. Two of those stores are going to be in Ceres.
"There's still a lot of ground work that needs to be set so we can't expect to just reach out to one business and have them automatically be interested in coming to our town," said Briggs. "But that's the importance of putting this strategic plan together."