Sanger tries to lure business

City offers incentives for firms to occupy its vacant buildings.

February 25, 2011 

Sanger is trying to lure new businesses to the city with tax rebates, fee waivers and marketing efforts.

The changes are part of a push to fill empty storefronts, prepare for an economic turnaround and make a dent in the community's 27% unemployment rate.

The city wants the newly passed measures to "make sure that roadblocks to business development and operation are moved aside so businesses can feel comfortable locating here," said Dan Spears, the city's manager of planning, community and economic development.

Most recently, the City Council passed an incentive last week to return half of the city's 1% share of sales tax revenue to new businesses that open in a vacant building.

The business must open within the next 12 months, and the credit will apply to its first year of business.

The incentive could help lure businesses to the former Save Mart building and a handful of other empty storefronts downtown, Spears said.

The 37,000-square-foot Save Mart building at Church and Academy avenues closed in October and has been empty since.

A sales-tax break isn't likely to attract another grocery store because so many of their products are not taxed, said Shane Anderson of Commercial Retail Associates, who is handling the property.

Such incentives often are a bonus for retailers, but "typically don't play that big of a factor into most tenants' decisions" -- unless they are huge, he said.

Spears agreed that incentives alone won't prompt businesses to open in a city, but they will make them take a closer look, he said.

The changes already have prompted several phone calls from potential businesses, said Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

"I think it will help," said Fred McNairy, treasurer of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, who also owns an accounting business. "When you look back at cities and areas that do well, it's 100 small measures that add up."

Clovis approved a similar sales tax break in early February.

And Sanger already has approved other measures to lure new businesses, including hiring Buxton, a Fort Worth, Texas-based firm that matches cities with appropriate retailers.

The firm will research the Sanger market and determine what type of businesses are appropriate for the city. It will then market the city to the 5,000 retailers it deals with.

Sanger's City Council also agreed on Feb. 3 to waive sewer and water development fees normally charged for new commercial and industrial construction projects.

Other development impact fees will remain intact.

The reporter can be reached at bclough@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6431.

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