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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2008 10:00 pm

Overall rating: ***** (Out of five)

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Lodi is sorely lacking in commercial space, and needs to take steps to make itself more attractive to new businesses.

That was the double-barreled message presented to the Lodi City Council — and a packed crowd — during Tuesday morning’s shirtsleeve session.

Shelly Burcham, vice president of client services for San Joaquin Partnership, discussed the findings of the Lodi Commercial Land Survey. Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation on Vision 2020, the Chamber’s strategic plan for Lodi’s economy.

The Lodi Commercial Land Survey found that Lodi has only 114,000 square feet of commercial building space currently available, although that number will go up drastically to more than 1.1 million square feet once General Mills leaves town.

“If we have a user come in who needs 300,000 square feet (of space), we don’t have anywhere to put them,” Burcham said.

The survey also divided available land into three categories: existing land, which is “shovel-ready”; planned land, which can be made ready within 24 to 36 months; and future land, which would generally need more than three years before building could begin.

San Joaquin County as a whole has 6,857 acres of land available for shovel-ready projects, but only 161 acres are in Lodi, Burcham said. Lodi also falls behind the rest of the county in planned and future acreage for development.

Because of this, she said, Lodi is missing out on growth opportunities, particularly as developers and companies running out of space in the Bay Area look to expand eastward.

Lodi is also missing out on tax dollars, as warehouses like the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Tracy generate sales tax, unlike warehouses of the past, she said.

Next up was Patrick, who described the efforts of the local volunteers and business leaders who developed the Vision 2020 plan. The plan outlines five areas, or “vision action teams,” that the Chamber hopes to improve in the next few years.

The plan was needed, Patrick told the city council, because without changes, Lodi will fall behind the rest of the regional economically. This could lead to rate increases and fewer customers for local businesses, he said.

The vision action teams will focus on economic competitiveness, education, tourism, “livability” and health, he said. The goal is to attract new businesses and young families to move to the area, and prepare Lodi’s population to become an educated, healthy workforce.

But the plan can’t succeed without help from city leadership, including the city council, Patrick said.

“Get involved, please,” he said, asking the council members to each visit at least one of the vision action teams.

Councilmen Alan Nakanishi and Doug Kuehne said they were encouraged about Lodi’s future after hearing the two presentations, and Kuehne and Vice Mayor Mark Chandler quickly volunteered to join several of the vision action teams. Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce was absent.

Mayor Bob Johnson’s focus was on San Joaquin Partnership’s report, however. Lodi can’t compete with other cities in the region without available space for new businesses, including shovel-ready sites, he said.

“If somebody’s got a 175,000-square-foot pad ready to go in Lathrop ... they’re not going to get here unless we have something available for them to build on,” he said.

Contact reporter Kyla Cathey at kylac@lodinews.com.



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