EDITORIAL: Supervisors should adopt business incentive program

On Tuesday, Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas will seek approval from fellow board members on a plan to encourage job creation and make the county more attractive to businesses.

We have examined the proposal that county staff, the Economic Development Commission Serving Fresno County and Borgeas have come up with and urge the board to approve it.

What do we like about the plan?

For starters, it has minimal costs to taxpayers and no long-term commitments. Moreover, no one involved in authoring the plan is saying it's the ultimate solution to the county's need to diversify the economy and get more people working.

The idea is to stimulate expansion of local businesses and lure new business to our area by helping with site selection, expediting permits and waiving or deferring county filing fees.

There is a strategic element to the plan in that the incentives are focused on five core industries: food processing, logistics and distribution, manufacturing, clean energy and agriculture-related activities. This is a sound idea because the new incentives would further leverage the competitive advantages that these industries already enjoy in our region.

To take advantage of the deferred fees and expedited processing, a business must show that its proposal will result in the creation of at least 20 new full-time jobs. If a business generates 50 new full-time jobs, the filing fees would be waived.

The initial review of applications to determine eligibility would be the responsibility of the EDC. Final approval would rest with the county's Department of Public Works and Planning.

It's important to point out that while the county's goal is to expedite permits to construct and expand, all proposals must adhere to mandatory environmental land-use and building requirements.

We hear entrepreneurs commonly say two things: 1) time is money, and 2) help me navigate the bureaucratic maze of government. This proposal, which would designate a single point of contact within the county for applicants, should cut the time for businesses to get up and running.

The incentives are estimated to cost $150,000 to $350,000 for one year. Considering that the plan could result in 500 new jobs, that's an investment worth making.