The Madera County Economic Development Commission (MCEDC) held their annual State of the County Luncheon on March 31st. A record crowd of over 220 people listened to commentaries on Eastern Madera County, the City of Chowchilla, the City of Madera and the County of Madera.
Darin Soukup and Joelle Leder representing the Eastern Madera County Chamber Alliance led off the event. They described their alliance as an official committee of MCEDC consisting of the Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Bass Lake and North Fork Chambers of Commerce. Their main focus is to promote Eastern Madera County helping to grow and improve the local economy. They highlighted their “Work Where You Play” marketing campaign, the promotion of the State Center Community College District Measure “C” bond campaign, and continuing the fire safety drive. Another important topic for Eastern Madera County is the tree mortality caused by the Bark Beetle. Thousands of trees are dead and more are dying at an alarming rate. State and local leaders continue to seek solutions to this devastating problem.
Mayor, Wassem Ahmed gave the overview of the City of Chowchilla. The city council is proud they can say they are on sound financial ground and continue to work diligently to provide quality services to the citizens of Chowchilla. The mayor was excited to announce they have the slogan “Chowchilla-Open for Business!” The city council has approved a number of aggressive incentive programs and want business organizations to know they are ready for all comers. Ahmed emphasized that Chowchilla is a great place to live. The council is holding town hall meetings so they can hear what people want and need.
Madera Mayor, Robert Poythress linked economic development and the need for educational opportunity to bridge the skills gap that exists in Madera. He stated the city was extremely proud of the recent opening of Freedom Industrial Park which consists of just under 100 acres of shovel ready industrial lots. The project was made possible through a unique partnership between the City of Madera and Span Construction and Engineering. However, Poythress went on to say as citizens we cannot stop there. “Madera is ground zero for skills gap”, he said. We need to partner with our local school system and State Center Community College to improve our education programs including special trade skills. The Mayor then referred to a video with local community leaders discussing a variety of subjects from water, education, parks and recreation and public safety. He closed by adamantly stating that even with challenges “No one is waving a white flag!” He noted that he is proud to work with passionate people determined to develop creative solutions to the challenges.
Rick Farinelli opened his speech with thanks and praise for his fellow board members and staff. He also recognized the efforts of MCEDC in putting on the event. From there he spoke about the budget and authorizing salary increases for staff. He was proud to announce the county received an A+ rating from Standard and Poor’s, was ranked number one for America’s strongest farming and agribusiness region and number one in the nation for new job growth in manufacturing. Switching gears, he described the major development that is underway in Southeast Madera County. But one of his major concerns is water and the impacts of the drought. He closed by stating the future of Madera County is strong and through forward thinking the county will remain on solid ground.