Councilwoman Holly Blair asked to discuss a $20,000 yearlong agreement with Kings County Economic Development Corporation, also known as Kings EDC, because she said she was not confident in what the organization could provide for the city.
“I would just like to know what your plans are and how you would be different than in years past where we’ve given money and not seen a lot of return for the investment that we’ve placed in your hands,” Blair said.
The city and Kings EDC maintained a relationship for most of 45 years until 2014 with the understanding that the organization attract and retain business to Lemoore, including services to support and help facilitate growth of existing business through financial counseling and assistance, business incentives and routine visitation of existing businesses by Kings EDC.
John Lehn, President/CEO of Kings EDC, relayed to council what the organization has been able to provide, including maintaining contacts with Lemoore businesses, visiting various places across the U.S. to talk to business leaders about the Central Valley, sending email blasts and annual reports to real estate brokers and providing expert advice to Lemoore businesses regarding state and federal incentives.
Lehn told council that Kings EDC tends to focus on industrial growth and economic development, but Blair was still skeptical and said she thinks city staff has done fine on their own in terms of planning for economic development.
Councilman Eddie Neal was also critical of the organization’s track record, and wanted to hear concrete plans as opposed to just the strategy presented.
“If we’re going to keep doing the same thing we’ve always done, then we’re going to have the same outcome, and I’m not seeing anything here that’s vastly different,” Blair said.
After about 30 minutes, Mayor Ray Madrigal said the discussion had become too long on something that should have been a simple decision. He said he thought Kings EDC could help with economic growth and an agreement with the organization would send a positive message to developers looking at Lemoore.
Finally, Councilman Dave Brown made a motion to approve the agreement with Kings EDC, but no other council member seconded the motion, so the motion failed.
The city did, however, unanimously approve an agreement with CrisCom for governmental affairs consulting services for $3,750 a month.
The CrisCom deal was different in that CrisCom specializes in lobbying, grant service and governmental outreach on a level of expertise that City Manager Nathan Olson said city staff just doesn’t have.
Besides the lack of specific expertise, Olson said the city just doesn’t have the staff to spend a large amount of time lobbying in places like Sacramento.
“This is really our voice for Sacramento and through the assembly to help us get additional funding,” Olson said.
CrisCom, who has been providing services to Lemoore for a few years, actually took a pay cut in the deal; going from $5,000 a month to $3,750.
CrisCom president and CEO Chuck Jelloian ensured to council and community members present that the company would not relax on the scope of work and advocate for all the city’s departments.
Recently, CrisCom was involved in getting over $900,000 to the police department and an ARCO Gas Station has agreed to locate in the city, which Jelloian said should generate about $30,000 in revenue.
Neal had nothing but praise for the work CrisCom has been able to do for the city in just the last few years. Blair also said she felt confident in the work CrisCom has been able to accomplish in putting Lemoore’s name out in Sacramento.