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Sutter County officials say input from 'heavy hitters' needed for development

Posted @ Monday, November 11, 2013   
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A Sutter County economic development group heard suggestions from the community at workshop, but without more input from the area's "heavy hitters," the county won't hear anything they didn't already know, county officials said.

"We're looking to make long- and short-term decisions with economic development," said Ron Sullenger, Sutter County supervisor. "But we need to hear from the movers and the shakers in town to address the problems they face."

The group is called Sutter Forward, and it was formed by the Board of Supervisors to develop specific projects and actions based on feedback to stimulate economic development.

The group, which met last week, will hold another meeting before Christmas, and Sullenger hoped that more business and real estate representatives would attend.

"The bottom line is to try to find a way to make future generations want to live in this community," Sullenger said. "It's getting difficult to do."

Most local leaders agreed that a lack of infrastructure was the biggest challenge facing economic development.

"If (a business) was looking to move right now and was looking for 200 acres of industrial-zoned property, we wouldn't have the property to meet their needs," said Darin Gale, economic development manager for Yuba City.

The point is not lost on local leaders.

At a joint meeting between Yuba City and Sutter on Oct. 22, the two governments discussed a partnership to develop industrial areas along Highway 99 in southern Sutter County.

The consensus was the Sutter County had the land and Yuba City had the infrastructure, the challenge was to extend city sewer and water lines to the potential sites south of Bogue Road.

"The biggest constraint we have to development is the lack of infrastructure," said Steve Jepsen, Yuba City city manager. "Extending the sewer lines is probably the biggest thing you can do for the foreseeable future."

Gale noted that the city is in a good position to expand. The wastewater treatment plant has the capacity to double the population of Yuba City.

"We can go out and identify these properties and build infrastructure to them, so hopefully in a few years we will have sites ready for projects," Gale said.

Identifying those properties could be the next step for Sutter Forward, provided enough local leaders participate.

"Right now, we're playing catch-up with other communities," Sullenger said. "We have to maintain the ability to provide infrastructure and jobs."

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