Visalia EDC names Nicotero as new executive

Warehouse and distribution veteran Bruce Nicotero takes over as executive director for the Visalia Economic Development Corporation, which markets the Visalia Industrial Park

VISALIA – In the last 20 years, the Visalia Industrial Park has become a hub for distribution warehouses on the West Coast. No one locally understands the warehousing and distribution industry better than Bruce Nicotero, who has more than 50 years of experience in the sector, making him an obvious choice to become the executive to deliver on the industrial park’s continued expansion.

The Visalia Economic Development Corporation (VEDC), the organization in charge of marketing the industrial park to potential tenants, named Nicotero its new executive director last week. Nicotero was general manager of the West Coast distribution center for Jo-Ann Stores, the world’s largest fabric and craft retailer. Nicotero has more than 50 years of experience in the warehousing, logistics and distribution industry. He was part of the team that set up the distribution center in Visalia, Jo-Ann’s first facility west of the Mississippi when it was built in 2001, where Nicotero managed the distribution of 30,000 unique items to thousands of Jo-Ann Fabrics locations.

“I am excited and humbled to be chosen by the Board of Directors to become the executive director of the Visalia Economic Development Corporation,” Nicotero said. “I am looking forward to working with local businesses, especially those in the Visalia Industrial Park, as well as the city staff, the Workforce Investment Board, local educators and utility providers to enhance the economic benefits for all. My experience managing several industrial facilities throughout my career will allow me to use my perspective to drive improvements and fulfill the mission and vision of the VEDC.”

Initially, Nancy Lockwood and The Lockwood Agency will continue to serve as the executive director, aiding and on-boarding Nicotero with the knowledge and tools to efficiently transition him into the position. Lockwood has guided the organization since 2009.  Prior to her tenure, the VEDC was led by Jim Claybaugh. With her retirement, we knew those would be hard shoes to fill.  

With her retirement, we knew those would be hard shoes to fill,” said Matt Sealts, incoming chair of the VEDC board. “We welcome Bruce’s experience and leadership to the VEDC at a time of transition for the organization.”

Nicotero was selected from 16 candidates identified by the Search Committee, said Seals. The committee narrowed the applicants to seven qualified individuals, who then provided answers to detailed follow-up questions. In addition to the published request for proposals and job description, detailed follow-up questions were sent to the applicants in order to provide a more detailed candidate analysis. Interviews were conducted in late May with a final decision and selection made last week.

Nicotero has worked in the industrial park for more than two decades and had previously served as chair of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County and was involved with the South Valley Industrial Collaborative. Nicotero will be tasked with implementing the strategic plan drafted by the VEDC which looks at all facets of economic development for the City of Visalia, specifically focusing on retention and workforce development of our existing business base in the industrial park.  

The industrial park has become a hub for distribution centers, fulfillment centers and warehouses for many companies in recent years. In addition to Jo-Ann Stores, the industrial park is home to distribution centers for Amazon, Ace Hardware, UPS, VF Outdoor, VWR, Hilti USA, Pacific Stihl, Inc., Heilind Electronics, MWI Veterinary Supply, Millipore Sigma, Service Spring Corp. Distribution centers in the Visalia Industrial Park ship overnight to 95 million customers within a 300-mile radius in Southern California, Sacramento and the Bay Area. The industrial park offers quick access to Highway 99, the largest north-south trucking corridor in the nation’s largest state, an available labor force of 62,000 workers, affordable land for development, and a city with a business-friendly climate that seeks to remove barriers to growth and expansion. 

The VEDC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed in 1996 to help businesses expand and create jobs. Members support the work of the VEDC through annual dues, with additional financial support from the City of Visalia. For more information on the Visalia Economic Development Corporation, contact Matt Seals at [email protected].

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