According to Development Services Director Andrew Malik, the program would target developers and or prospective tenants that meet specific criteria, including annual gross sales of $100 million or more; generate sales or use tax to the city corresponding to the gross sales; and providing a minimum of 1,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Malik told the council the program was another piece of the city’s overall economic strategy, with a primary goal of creating more local jobs. He described it as something similar to the Tracy Mall Revitalization Program passed in May 2010, a policy that brought Macy’s to the West Valley Mall.
He said under the new proposed program, businesses could be enticed through such financial incentives as a sales or use tax rebate, or direct financial assistance tied to future sales and use tax generation.
In order to attract businesses, Malik said the city needed to have a few things already in place, such as available land or office space, offer competitive permit fees, and provide an attractive labor force.
“We will continue our efforts to make sure Tracy is a model for the region,” he said.
The council passed the program with a 4-0 vote in the absence of Mayor Brent Ives, but some members voiced their desire to attract businesses that provide higher salaries for Tracy residents.
“My concern is more jobs, but low wages,” Councilman Robert Rickman said. “The goal is to work in Tracy and shop in Tracy. When you seek retail businesses, don’t settle. Try to get something big,” he said, comparing Manteca’s version of JCPenny to Tracy’s smaller retail version.
Rickman also stressed that he wanted to see businesses that cater to Tracy’s younger population, such as Chuck E Cheese’s. He said he didn’t want to see more warehouse businesses.
Malik said the plan passed Wednesday has in mind companies such as high-tech manufacturers and distribution centers with an office base, with jobs that provide a starting pay of $15 to $18 per hour.
Councilman Bob Elliott and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Maciel both spoke in favor of the program. Elliott said, “We see the value of Macys. This shows the value of what we can do to attract high-end business.”
Maciel said that there has been talk for a long time of creating more local jobs. He said this program shows that the city not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.
Although no city officials would say there was a specific business waiting in the wings that met the new program’s criteria, City Manager Leon Churchill said via email this week that there was a need to get the plan approved now, as opposed to waiting for the next council meeting Jan. 3.