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Space for industry vital to growth, leaders say

Industrial work can be loud and messy.

It’s also vital to the future of Grass Valley’s economy, some local leaders said this week.

“People need places to pound metal where nobody will be disturbed,” said Councilman Chauncey Poston. “We need to identify a land base and have it ready to go for light manufacturing.”



The availability of industrial land in the city directly impacts the number of primary jobs that could be created, Gil Mathew, president of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, said at a town hall meeting hosted by the Grass Valley City Council Tuesday night.

The meeting was designed to provide Grass Valley leaders with suggestions on how to address declining sales taxes. Over the next two years, the city is facing a deficit of about $700,000 on its $10 million operating budget.




The council called the town hall to find ways to increase the city’s revenue stream and to create jobs, Mayor Lisa Swarthout said.

“We need to ensure we have industrial land available, so if someone wants to build a 40,000 square-foot building we’d have the space available,” Mathew said.

When he’s recruiting industries to move to Nevada County, Mathew said he focuses on businesses that can bring new wealth to the area, rather than service industry businesses such as restaurants that typically trade dollars.

For businesses to move to the area, it must be attractive from a financial standpoint, said other local business owners.

Regulations, taxes and fees undermine growth in the area, said Don Coenen, who owns a Christmas tree farm south of Grass Valley.

“We need to stop making revenue by charging more fees,” said Coenen, adding the price for a booth at the county fairgrounds grew significantly more expensive as fees were tacked on.

Industries such as timber and mining could add a significant number of jobs to the area.

“We need to create jobs. We need a broad base for companies here, and I’d like to see more industry,” Coenen added.

Three of the city’s four possible annexations from the county, including a planned mixed-use retail site at the SouthHill Village site, are stagnant due to the recession. SouthHill’s owner, Catlin Properties, declared bankruptcy last year and the bank took possession of the property recently.

The 65-acre SouthHill property – at Highway 49 near LaBarr Meadows Road – would make an effective place for a developer looking to build an industrial park, Poston said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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