The Chamber of Commerce pitched a plan to county supervisors for expansion of the Modesto across Highway 99 into the best farmland in the state for business parks (a k a housing). They did the same thing to the City Council and it was not well received by many.
The purpose of the chamber is to advocate for businesses, a noble cause, but they do so blindly. There is little real consideration for the future. It would be tremendous to add a thousand jobs in Modesto, but reality must be faced. Turlock, Atwater and Patterson have added new businesses, mainly on idle ground, not on prime farmland. With almonds, walnuts, fruits and vegetables so huge in our economy, why would your want to kill the economic engine of the valley for another department store or a few hundred houses that will be lost to foreclosure when the buyers can no longer afford the payments?
Look around at the vacant business property inventory; it is vast. We are not likely to attract a huge business addition because of pure logistics and economics. Roads could have been built years ago, but weren't. Land could have been put to use for business, but wasn't. Brad Hawn was against sprawl, but now advocates blacktopping farmland. What a shift. What else would he and the Chamber of Commerce want to pave over, given the chance?
The Chamber should be courting businesses for vacant real estate like the former Raley's and Gottschalks in Century Center or other sites where jobs could be created with no impact on farmland or the future of the county.
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