New businesses moving into Sanger

SANGER, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sanger is becoming a Valley hot spot for business. The city's once declining economy is on a comeback as new businesses start to fill once empty spaces.

Shelves are being stocked, and the finishing touches are getting done inside the new State Foods Supermarket in Sanger. The new store will open to shoppers this week, and owner Mufid "Mike" Alamsi says customers will get what they've long waited for: a full-service grocery store in a busy part of the city.

State Foods now occupies the former Save Mart store, which closed in 2010. While it stood vacant, copper wire thieves stripped the building and vandalized it. It took a year and a half and a $2.7 million investment for Alamsi to repair the damage and move in. But he says he couldn't pass up the prime spot. "This location is phenomenal. I think it's worth every penny that we've put into it," said Alamsi.

Community and Economic Development Manager Dan Spears says State Foods is just one of many businesses setting up shop in Sanger because the city has rolled out the welcome mat. He said, "The climate for business is, I would have to say, feverish."

The city offers an incentive to businesses like State Foods that move into vacant buildings: a 50 percent refund of their sales tax revenue in the first three years of business. It was an offer Alamsi couldn't refuse. He said, "Anybody when their investing in a place, you tend to see how the city's going to work with you. Are they going to put up all kinds of red tape? Are they going to make you go through more adversity to open a place?"

"We have demonstrated that Sanger as a community and a government body is willing to step in and partner with businesses to get them up and running," said Spears.

And so far, it's working. An empty space at Academy and Jensen avenues will be filled with a Verizon store, a Deli Delicious sandwich shop and a Wingstop. Nearby at 7th Street and Academy Avenue, the future holds an Express Lube and a restaurant with a recognizable name that can't yet be revealed.

Already, city officials say Sanger's unemployment rate has been cut in half. Ninety-eight positions were filled at State Foods alone, with some employees who are new to the working world.

One of Alamsi's missions is to motivate young people. He offers jobs to high school students at all his stores, if they do their jobs in school by getting good grades and showing a willingness to work.

A pool of eager workers and more spaces to develop -- just icing on the economic cake for this comeback city.
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