Bill Bassitt, CEO of the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, addressed a crowd of about 50 investors and board members during a kickoff for its Momentum 2016 fundraising campaign Monday, Oct. 15, at the Alliance’s Modesto boardroom.
He said the goal of raising $2 million to support Alliance programs the next four years was attainable, explaining that 64 investors had pledged their economic support as of Monday.
“We have recognized and spoken loudly about the fact that we have to take care of ourselves, and so we are,” he said in a prepared statement.
Such efforts are especially important, Alliance officials have said in the past, in light of the area’s continued economic malaise. Stanislaus County’s unemployment in August was 14.5 percent, according to the state Employment Development Department, and Patterson’s was 19.8 percent. That compares to 16.1 percent for the county and 21.8 percent for the city during the same month in 2011.
The Alliance uses public funds and contributions from the business community to attract businesses to Stanislaus County and keep them here.
Most of its money is from the private sector, Bassitt said. He said representatives of local businesses raised $1.6 million to support programs in the years 2004 to 2007 ,and $1.75 million from 2007 to 2012.
The group hopes create 5,000 jobs from 50 new employers during the next four years.
It also aims to help 100 start-up businesses; distribute 20,000 vouchers to businesses for inclusion in its enterprise zone — which offers them incentives to hire employees and invest in equipment; and bring three biotech firms and three global logistics companies to the county.
Officials also hope to zone 1,000 acres within Stanislaus County for business growth by 2016.
As of Monday, the group had raised $980,000 from Stanislaus County businesses for the Momentum 2016 campaign. It seeks to raise another $1.2 million before the December deadline.
Small Business Development Center efforts supported by the Alliance have helped with the start-up of 63 new businesses in Stanislaus County over the years , as well as business retention and attraction efforts.
During the past four years alone, 44 new employers have started operations in the county, leading to 5,000 jobs and an annual payroll of $130 million, according to Bassitt.
The Alliance helped attract 13 businesses to the county during that time period after vetting 157 qualified leads, Bassitt said.
He mentioned three Patterson businesses specifically by name: GEA Westfalia and W.W. Grainger Inc., which both have facilities in the West Patterson Business Park, and Amazon.com, which is building a 1 million-square-foot Patterson fulfillment center to open in spring 2013.
In addition to those businesses, Bassitt mentioned developing the former U.S. Naval airfield in Crows Landing into a major employer as among the Alliance’s top priorities.
In the past, the Alliance specifically advocated for the former airbase to contain an inland rail hub for the Port of Oakland, a key component of a proposal by developer Gerry Kamilos. The group removed that language from its list of priorities after Stanislaus County supervisors voted Aug. 28 to discontinue their exclusive negotiating relationship with Kamilos to develop the airfield into a business park.
At the same time, Bassitt said after the meeting he still thought an inland port would be an asset at the future Crows Landing business park, and he hopes those who submit project proposals would consider the idea.
The Alliance has also helped support the countywide enterprise zone, which has provided $200 million in tax incentives to local businesses the past five years, Bassitt said.
Businesses that wish to contribute to the Momentum 2016 campaign can contact Angie Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 567-4951.
For information: www.stanalliance.com/documents/Momentum_2016/momentum_2016.swf