Stockton’s fiscal implosion cost old bureaucrats their jobs and brought in a new management team. The new order, we were told, reflected new values: integrity, fiscal prudence, public service (as opposed to self-enrichment) and business-friendly policies.
It was going to be a whole new deal.
That sounded great. But the time inherent in effecting a major management culture shift, the bankruptcy and the recession created a lag between the proclamation of a new way of doing things and actually getting things done.
But we’re starting to see it now. Case in point: luring new employer Diesel Direct West from Sacramento to Stockton. Diesel District West makes $65 million a year providing “on-site fueling services” for trucks.
It’ll employ 40 people in Stockton. It’ll generate an estimated $227,500 annually in new sales tax revenue for the city.
It’s safe to say the city didn’t lure this outfit with its good looks. The city once so business unfriendly that its Community Development Department generated a perennial string of complaints from the business community offered a smart suite of incentives: a $422,500 rebate, based on this formula:
“If a new business that qualifies for the incentive generates a minimum of $25 million in new sales, $250,000 of the resulting sales tax revenue will be split evenly between the business and the city. At $50 million in new sales, the business will get 65 percent of $500,000, with the city keeping the rest.”
Certain business leaders have done literally hundreds of presentations in places such as Silicon Valley, vying to lure employers here. Their efforts met with little success in part because the did not address the underlying structural problems in Stockton government. But if the city keeps dangling this sort of carrot, Diesel District West will be seen as just the beginning of real economic development: jobs, higher incomes and a better quality of municipal life.