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Council Approves Business Incentives
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In an effort to attract new business in town, the Oakdale City Council on Monday, July 20 approved a program to provide grants to new businesses opening, or existing businesses expanding, within vacant store fronts.

According to City Manager Brian Whitemyer, who presented the proposal, the recent sale of the Hershey Building, originally acquired in 2008, provided the city with funds that can be used for economic development activities. City staff proposed that $12,000 be set aside each year for the next five years for the Business Incentive Program.

The incentive plan, modeled after a successful Turlock design, provides $1,000 to business owners that move into or expand into those store fronts that are now vacant within the city.

The city would provide the funds to up to 12 recipients each year who would be able to use the money “as they see fit.”

To qualify, interested business owners would have to develop a business plan with input from the Stanislaus Business Alliance of an appropriately zoned location within the city.

“The goal of the program is to attract new or existing businesses into those storefronts,” Whitemyer said.

The applicant would also have to meet with city representatives at a pre-development meeting and commit to record keeping requirements.

Whitemyer said the similar Turlock program resulted in the opening of 30 new businesses and 50 to 60 new jobs. He believed the proposed program could have similar success in Oakdale.

“This will be the first component in other economic development opportunities,” Whitemyer said.

The incentive proposal comes in conjunction with the July 23 launching of the Oakdale Innovation Center, a creation of the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce that will offer mentoring, computer help, marketing and other services at 210 E. F St.

“The Oakdale Innovation Center provides the foundation for entrepreneurs to flourish by providing a set of resources for growth,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola. “By creating a collaborative, connective space for our community of local innovators, our goal is to foster the tradition of entrepreneurism that has too often been hidden in the Central Valley.”

In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, the Innovation Center’s other venture partners are the City of Oakdale; the Stanislaus Business Alliance, NAI Benchmark, Oakdale OpenMesh, and Google Developer Group of Oakdale.