But we still have no shortage of hurdles to overcome. A lack of education and workforce training, high unemployment and limited water and sewer capacity were just a few of the challenges the city faces, according to a draft economic development study approved by the city’s Economic Strategic Commission last week. That’s not to mention a substantial jobs-to-housing imbalance.
On the other hand, the report, drafted by former interim City Manager Jim Reese, notes that Patterson has a lot going for it, such as easy access to Interstate 5 and readily available business park sites.
While much of this has been known for quite some time, the study’s depth and balanced approach is laudable, and its recommendations to improve workforce training opportunities and to hire a city economic development officer deserve attention.
After all, it’s no secret that many local residents have lacked qualifications for jobs available in town, despite the city’s high unemployment figures.
And it makes good sense to use the extra sales tax revenue that the city will receive from Amazon.com to hire someone who will help bring other Amazons to town. The fact that the city lost out on Amazon.com’s second fulfillment center because of a lack of available land demonstrates what an asset it would be to have a city staff member who knows what companies are looking for from a city like Patterson.
It’s also nice to see the study mention Patterson’s retail corridors — including the downtown — along with its industrial areas. Any economic development program must focus on small businesses as well as large corporations, as mom-and-pop operations continue to be the bread and butter of this community. In that vein, downtown revitalization must be a priority in any economic strategy.
Patterson has much economic development potential, but that requires more planning. The strategy developed by Reese is a good first step.