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By MARC LUTZ
Business Journal Editor
STOCKTON – The port was buzzing with activity, at least in shed 20.
Community leaders, businesspeople, vendors, workers and many others gathered for the 19th annual Stockton State of the City address.
“It’s terrific to get the public down to see what we’re doing at the port,” Port Director Richard Aschieris said. “We’re happy to support the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce in this event.”
Chair of the Port of Stockton Commission Dr. Elizabeth Blanchard, who gave the port update, said leadership is working hard to ensure the longevity of operations through Stockton’s waterways.
“All the infrastructure development the Port is doing will bring in jobs. We’re keeping the channel deep. We’re making sure to take care of the environment,” Blanchard said. “We never settle for less.”
In 2016 the Port moved nearly 4 million metric tons of product, totaling $1.5 billion in value. That included everything from steel and cottonseed to sulfur and corn. Five million dollars in tax revenue was created for the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County, Blanchard said. “And that’s without taxing the citizens,” she said.
All this means employment. More than 5,500 jobs were supported through Port operations.
Mayor Michael Tubbs gave the State of the City address, emphasizing the work leadership and community members are doing to reinvent the city, while attendees enjoyed a lunch catered by local restaurant Papapavlo’s.
“In the last 100-plus days, I’ve been really honored to really see the best of what Stockton has to offer,” Tubbs said. “Together we faced challenges, we fought adversity, we never gave up and we showed the toughness that is Stockton. Thank you for believing in Stockton as it is and what it will be.”
Tubbs highlighted the city’s strengthening economy, returning from bankruptcy a few short years ago.
“Never again will we fall prey to false hopes and slick presentations offering simple solutions to complex problems,” Tubbs said. “We will deal with the reality of the situation and make smart, strategic investments for today.”
Because of that planning, Stockton has a budget reserve of $31 million dollars. It is now rated as one of the top 20 cities in the country in terms of fiscal solvency. It ranked No. 6 in populations over 300,000 for its financial health.
One thing Tubbs said he won’t continue to say yes to is subsidizing public golf courses to the tune of $700,000 per year. He believes the funds could be used in other areas such as a housing trust for affordable housing.
The City Council also voted to allocate funding that would help those in shelters or those who are homeless to better their situations.
Tubbs is also focused on creating more economic opportunities so that those who graduate will have a reason to stay in Stockton, rather than commute out of the area for better jobs.
Another area of focus for Tubbs’ administration is to continue to build a business-friendly environment in Stockton, playing into the economic development.
“We must also continue to act and support our small businesses to ensure the private sector will generate jobs and services to produce the tax revenue that government relies on.”
The mayor emphasized working together to reinvent the city in all aspects.
“Why not the great city of Stockton, California?” he said.
To read more on the Stockton State of the City address, pick up the June issue of the Central Valley Business Journal.