City hopes Industrial Council will boost Fresno economy

FRESNO, California

The company's Human Resource Manager, Patrick Coop says the city's "Enterprise Zone" designation was part of the incentive. "We have enterprise tax zone which is here in this area so we're able to get a tax break there."

As a major agricultural area Fresno is becoming a center for irrigation technology and Mayor Ashley Swearengin believes there's room for more companies connected to agriculture. "Our focus has been on value added food processing and light manufacturing, those are really wealth creators for the Fresno area."

But, as John Stewart, the CEO of Pearson Realty and a member of the Mayor's Industrial Council says, there is a big obstacle to bringing those companies to Fresno. "The economy has been the most difficult thing to overcome. But slowly as we start to put ourselves more on the map with the fact we can accommodate many types of businesses then we're going to focus on certain types of businesses. Water related, energy related etc. kinds of businesses."

Fresno County's unemployment rate remained stagnant over the past year at 18.4%. The mayor says the goal is to be ready for a turnaround. "One thing we've heard for years and years is Fresno is not a very business friendly place so we've made major changes here. Personnel changes, policy changes process changes to make sure when the market comes back we've got companies that want to expand or they want to locate into this market, City Hall is not the problem for their expansion here in Fresno."

The mayor is hoping the Industrial Council will keep bringing business leaders together to help the city get results.

Koop says the effort has worked for his company. "It's been a good partnership with the city."

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