EDA discusses long-range plans

By Seth Schmidt

Dennis Fultz, Tracy Economic Development Authority chairman, challenged fellow members to dream a little last week.
The longtime EDA leader shared a proposed five-year plan that he’d drafted, with specific ideas for adding jobs and businesses to Tracy. He challenged board members to add ideas of their own.
“This is looking at the big picture,” Fultz said. Besides setting new long-range goals, Fultz suggested identifying two to three immediate priorities to work toward.
The chairman’s five-year plan draft listed the potential development of an additional convenience store/gas station, a possible retail project, and working with Ralco to enhance prospects for a tru Shrimp hatchery in Tracy as first-year priorities. Fultz’s other economic development expansion ideas included thinking about a new residential housing addition on the east side of town, asking wind development, solar energy, and engineering firms to consider Tracy for office locations, a new laundromat, developing the Masonic lot; facilitating the planned hospice house construction, and being open to potential spin-off businesses related to Ralco’s visions for tru Shrimp.
Cal Brink, Marshall Chamber of Commerce director, suggested the EDA hold a three to four-hour retreat to discuss its “strategic goals” and “decide what you want to get accomplished.” Such in-depth planning, Brink said, is difficult to tackle at a regular EDA meeting. (Brink occasionally attends Tracy EDA meetings because of the Marshall Chamber’s collaborative connection to the EDA. Tracy EDA coordinator Tara Onken is an employee of the Marshall Chamber, which provides contractual services to the Tracy EDA.)
Brink suggested that the EDA’s various projects and goals be assigned to small work committees, who do the necessary groundwork on potential projects, and bring them to the full EDA board when needed.
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Vice Chair Mark Seager, who participated in the June 7 meeting through a remote audio connection, said the EDA shouldn’t overlook opportunities for pursuing on-line businesses. The high-speed Internet access that’s available in Tracy, he noted, is an advantage that not every community has.
“You are absolutely right,” said EDA commissioner Jeff Salmon.
Seager, who joined the EDA within the past year, also suggested that the EDA review its bylaws, and determine whether any updates are needed.
EDA member Sis Beierman wondered if programs were available to encourage people to renovate larger houses in Tracy that have fallen into disrepair, and in some cases are vacant and abandoned. Some of these once nice properties still have potential to be refurbished, she said, which in turn would generate more property tax base and bring more people to town.
The EDA agreed to put strategic planning and the possible retreat on a future agenda.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.