Madera County ranked No. 1 in nation for manufacturing jobs

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Parts of Madera County are seeing a big boost in manufacturing jobs, and local leaders say there are more promising projects on the horizon. (KFSN)

The Madera area is making major strides in bouncing back from the recession. It was recently ranked the No. 1 place in the nation for manufacturing jobs by newgeography.com. The report noted a nearly 60 percent increase in those positions from 2009 to 2014.

"We've seen a lot of our local guys doing expansion projects that we've assisted them with, and then we've also been active in recruiting new businesses," said Bobby Kahn, executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commision.

One noticeable addition is the Almond Company, which moved into the old Gottschalks distribution center off Highway 99. But empty buildings are now hard to find. The county has a less than 1 percent vacancy rate for industrial space, so work is underway to create more.

"The one exciting project that we're working on now is the Freedom Industrial Park. That's 100 acres on the south end of the city of Madera. It's a very unique partnership between the city and Span Construction," said Kahn.

The two are working together to build out 1 million square feet of industrial space in hopes of adding hundreds of new jobs. Meanwhile, the county has waived all impact fees for commercial and industrial development projects and is offering other incentives as well.

"I think we've been really pushing forward on making things easy for businesses to come to Madera, and then once they're here to operate in Madera," said Madera County Supervisor Brett Frazier.

Madera County has also hired a consulting firm to look into the possibility of making this area a hub for large sports tournaments. The results of that study will be presented this fall.
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