Madera County District 3 Supervisor Rick Farinelli talks about what needs to be done to develop Madera economically:
“In the first place, I have never been a person for status quo. Some of the things that have been coming up in this series basically have been status quo. We’re talking about development. In 2009 we lost our Enterprise Zone because the application wasn’t filled out right. Yesterday, I spent about an hour with John Nunn, Jr., the state Enterprise Zone program manager, and he basically confirmed that. We had a chance to get it back in 2010, and we weren’t able to do that.
Without an Enterprise Zone, that puts us on an uneven playing field with other counties from San Joaquin all the way down to Kern. Gov. Jerry Brown wants to stop the Enterprise Zones. Mr. Nunn argues with that, because he thinks how the heck are we going to get anybody to come to California any more? Other states have incentive plans — i.e., Texas and Tennessee — and businesses are going to those places.
“We have a government right now in the state that basically wants to stop incentives. There are other cities in California that don’t have Enterprise Zones and have done quite well, but we here in the Central Valley need to have an even playing field.
“We are working with another county to try to develop a relationship with them to try to bring some of their Enterprise Zone acres and blend them in with our county. This is just in a save mode, to save jobs in Madera County.”
He said the county has started an ad hoc committee to try and keep jobs here — for the Enterprise Zone and Madera.
“The one thing we have to realize is that the county thinking and the city thinking need to come together. Instead of pointing fingers, we have to become one, and try to work together to try to bring in industries. To do that, we have to get our Enterprise Zone back, and even at that we will be in a saving mode.
“You’re talking about shutting down half the glass plant unless we get our Enterprise Zone back,” he said. The glass plant, which makes wine bottles for much of the wine industry, is under mandate to install new pollution control equipment by the end of this year, Farinelli said. Without the Enterprise Zone, he said, the glass plant would not have access to money to help pay for mandated air-pollution control retrofits.
“Jobs at the glass plant starts out at $18 an hour plus benefits. We don’t want to lose that.”
The Development in Madera interview with Farinelli will continue Tuesday.