MODESTO — Mayor Garrad Marsh will lay out his vision for economic development for Modesto during his state of the city address Wednesday at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Marsh said he mostly will avoid reciting a laundry list of what the city has accomplished in the past year and what's in store for the coming year.
Instead, he will provide a big-picture look at the city's strategic advantages and disadvantages as it works to bring in jobs. Stanislaus County's unemployment rate was 15 percent in December compared with the statewide unemployment rate of 9.8 percent.
Those advantages include the low cost of doing business here compared with the Bay Area and other areas; an involved, committed community; the area's proximity to San Francisco Bay; and the strong agricultural economy. Marsh will talk about the need to protect agriculture through such measures as urban growth boundaries.
The disadvantages include a high crime rate and reduced public-
safety staffing and resources because of recession-driven budget cuts; a lack of educated, skilled workers; and a lack of land suitable for business parks. (Marsh has pursued discussions of Modesto annexing Salida in part because of the potential for business parks along Highway 99.)
Marsh said he will talk about the need for a unified approach by the city, Chamber of Commerce, businesses and others to promote the area's strengths and tackle its problems.
He will unveil two proposals that will help Modesto with economic development; he declined to give details until his speech.
The Chamber of Commerce luncheon is in the DoubleTree ballroom, 1150 Ninth St. It starts at 11:30 a.m., and Marsh is expected to speak about noon. There is limited free space for those who want to hear the mayor and not pay $40 for the luncheon.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.