Business thriving in city of Merced

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The sound of change is ringing out in downtown Merced, as construction crews tear down the old to make way for the new.

"As staff we spend a lot of time, planting seeds, plowing ground and now we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor," said Frank Quintero, Director of Economic Development at Merced.

"This is what we wait for."

It is hard to miss the work underway at the El Capitan Hotel off M street. Signs advertise the towering three-story building opening later this year.

Right down the street the Mainzer Theater and Hotel Tioga are undergoing a transformation. Those makeovers are also spilling over to the Merced Mall.

New retail is being promised via the Gateway shopping center, currently under construction and the future Campus Parkway Plaza.

"Just across the street from the Gateway shopping center is the Campus Parkway Plaza and that is where the 134-room, five-story Hilton Conference Center is proposed," said Quintero.

Vacant buildings are also seeing new life. The former Orchard Supply Hardware store stood empty for five years and now Planet Fitness is moving in.

The industrial park is also thriving.

During the recession, business in Merced's Industrial Park were hit hard, but now there's signs of growth.

Towboat manufacturer Centurion Boats is expanding about 20,000 feet and over the last year their workforce has grown by 20%. They've been around for more than 40 years and a new expansion is underway and promising more space and new opportunities.

"This has been one of our biggest years to date," said Centurion Vice President Amy Mauzy. "We are more profitable now as a company then we have ever been and we are selling boats all over the world."

The growth at Centurion and in the city as a whole is making Mauzy optimistic about the future.

"Now seeing it come back it gives you a great sense of pride and honestly it speaks to our resilience in the Valley," she said. "We can do all of this together and we are doing it, we are making it happen."

The expansion at Centurion is scheduled for completion in the next six months. Meanwhile the city says downtown will start looking a lot different by the beginning of next year.
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