City of Lemoore ponders renewing economic relationship with Kings EDC

By Ed Martin, Editor
Mayor Ray Madrigal
Mayor Ray Madrigal

The Lemoore City Council may consider boosting the city’s industrial and retail development by bringing back to the fold a former longtime economic partner, the Kings Economic Development Corporation.

The Kings EDC, formerly known as Crown Development Corporation has been a longtime economic development stable in Kings County and its cities. Until 2014, Lemoore was a faithful member.

Lemoore City Council June 20 Agenda

John Lehn, the CEO of Kings EDC was on hand at Tuesday’s (June 20) council meeting study session to try and convince councilmembers to retain EDC’s services again. In 2014 the city abandoned the Kings EDC after decades of cooperation and instead decided to focus on retail and commercial development opportunities.

Council members, at that time, entered into a $42,000 a year contract with Cris Com, a Southern California economic development and lobbying firm devoted to retail and commercial development.

While for the past three years Cris Com has failed to attract any significant development, it was instrumental in lobbying Sacramento for funds to complete a county-wide dispatch center in Lemoore.

“It’s really about jobs,” Lehn told councilmembers. “The challenges are that from where you’re sitting there’s almost that competing pull between do we really focus on sales tax or do we focus on property tax … and what we would probably suggest is that we really have to think about jobs.”

He said that improved industrial development, and helping to set the stage for development to create new jobs, will help the disposable income needed for sales tax generation, and the more disposable income you have, the more competitive you are towards retail attraction and so on.

“And it all gets to having sites that are ready,” said Lehn, adding that creating the backdrop for development, retail and industrial, “will create the quality of life that you are seeking. For a very modest amount you get a very robust organization.”

It will create the quality of life that Lemoore seeks and he said that if the city were considering engaging the EDC again, “for a very modest amount you will get a very robust organization.”

Mayor Ray Madrigal said he was optimistic about future development. “I’m very anxious for something to happen here,” he said. “I think we’re at a tipping point. We’re on the verge of a few things that might change what we look like, and by the same token I think we need to realize that we keep hearing this – from different sources – numbers as far as rooftops that we need (a larger population base).” I realized we’re not going to get there anytime soon.

“We have to realize that we are what we are. We’re not going to get to that 40,000 or 50,000 rooftops (scenario) so we have to approach it from a different standpoint – from which we’ve been doing,” he said. “I really think there is an opportunity to do something a little more comprehensive, including perhaps the EDC, including some retail development, including restructuring our organization internally, and maybe bringing in different duties and tasks to help us. I’m willing to listen to just about anything at this point, because I’m anxious and sometimes even getting impatient about seeing something tangible.”

Madrigal suggested that the city review its economic priorities and perhaps include EDC in any future decision making regarding economic development.

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