“City of Tracy is in fine shape,” Ives said, regarding the city’s focus to boost local commerce. “The condition of the city, as you will see, I think we are doing well.”
Ives said cities and towns have felt the impacts of a housing crisis and legislators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., but Tracy officials have kept their focus on making the city a safe, prosperous place to raise families.
Redevelopment enabled officials to shape Tracy in the past, Ives said, with the development of such projects as the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, Sixth Street Plaza and low-income housing. Now that financing avenue has been abolished by the state government, he said community leaders are being challenged to find new ways to keep Tracy prosperous.
“We lost a big tool,” he said. “That makes it hard for us.”
On the plus side, Ives said the national economy is slowly improving. He added that over the past year job growth is up, sales tax revenues are outpacing projections and new businesses have found a home in Tracy.
He also touted public safety, pointing to statistics that show decreasing levels of crime.
Ives also said Measure E gives the city reason to be optimistic. That ballot measure, a half-a-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2010, gave city leaders time to coordinate the for the future. But preparations still need to be made for when the measure expires in 2016, Ives said.
One way Tracy has grown is through private investment, Ives said, with companies like Mi Pueblo Food Center, Squeeze Inn restaurant and Round Table Pizza expanding into the city. He said there has also been a boom at West Valley Mall, with retail space filled and vacancies awaiting new businesses.
Ives said that years ago, an economist once told city officials that Tracy would grow by housing first, which would be followed by retail and then industrial opportunities. He said this job-creation process has taken longer than city officials originally planned, but they are working to develop land so the city is ready for future businesses that will create more jobs.
He called it a long-term effort that will be critical as the economic recovery builds steam. He said this will in turn make Tracy inviting to companies who are looking to relocate.
“The city of Tracy is business friendly,” Ives said, making a personal commitment to improve Tracy’s welfare each day. “We’re poised for great things.”
• See Friday’s edition of the Tracy Press for more on the State of the City