Tulare County EDC gets back on track

A business team meeting to brainstorm and analyze financial data and marketing business strategies for the profit of their company.(Freedomz on Adobe Stock)

Economic Development Corporation sees notable fiscal improvement in recent years as business booms in Tulare County

TULARE – Just four years ago, the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation (TCEDC) was operating with a massive deficit, but fortunes have turned around as a swell of businesses have rolled into Tulare County.

In 2020 and 2021, the TCEDC closed the fiscal year with a $317,282 deficit that restricted how effective the group could be in attracting businesses to the county. This year, the deficit will have shrunk to less than $50,000 and President and CEO Airica de Oliveira said the group will do no worse than break even in the 2025-2026 fiscal year.

TCEDC’s fortunes have turned around with the efforts de Oliviera and her staff have made to bring in new private business partners. For the first time since 2009, TCEDC raised $70,000 through private partnerships with businesses and all of the cities in the county. The group raised an additional $68,620 through events and attained a $25,000 grant that brought fiscal year earnings to $163,620.

In addition to this funding, TCEDC receives membership payments from public sector governments that include all of the cities in Tulare County and the county itself. Each city pays a different rate based on a formula that weighs various factors to determine an appropriate rate. On June 17, Visalia City Council approved paying for its membership with TCEDC for the coming year in the amount of $60,000.

The corporation functions to attract businesses to Tulare County by advertising properties and promoting the region. According to the website, TCEDC has attracted more than 100 businesses that created 13,000 jobs and injected $350 million into the economy since 1983.

“In December, we launched our new marketing campaign which is, ‘A Different California,’” de Oliviera said. “We partner with a marketing vendor and site selector. We worked together to help generate our new branding message. From December to the end of May, we have sent out a little over 70,000 email impressions. These go to various site selectors, brokers and companies themselves.”

Impressions are essentially a marketing email that allows an individual who opens the email to visit the website or to view featured properties. TCEDC then follows up with those who open the email.

“We have about a 15% open rate, so it’s about 10,500 of these individuals, who are again, site selectors and brokers that represent companies and companies themselves who might have an interest in relocating to Tulare County,” de Oliviera said. “These companies are companies that would potentially fit our area. We are really trying to increase our interest and engagement with manufacturing companies.”

The recent turnaround in finances is largely due to new recruitment strategies and the harnessing of technology. This makes it easier for businesses to locate properties that are a good fit for them by identifying features such as access roads, power availability, workforce numbers and other metrics businesses need to make informed decisions. TCEDC provides a range of services that help to attract and retain businesses in the area.

TCEDC also partners with local Chambers of Commerce to provide enhanced services for small, medium and large businesses. The Chambers in turn help to promote various events produced by TCEDC such as the Economic Summit, sponsorship opportunities and workshops. The Chamber helps to connect TCEDC with local businesses looking to expand and relocate, helping to enhance the growth of business in Tulare County.

“The Chamber itself is what you would call a ‘Champion for business and community,’ so we have a focus on economic development which includes business attraction, retention and expansion,” Tulare Chamber of Commerce CEO Donnette Silva-Carter said. “We also promote the community and the region, both for potential businesses to attract them, residents and visitors. We also provide opportunities to bring businesses together.”

Silva-Carter explained that while the Chamber is primarily focused on the city of Tulare, they also partner with other chambers and organizations in the region. 

“Often, that lends itself to supporting multiple communities because for job creation, people may be living in Tulare and driving for their job to Visalia or vice-versa, and we have certainly seen that,” Silva-Carter said. “We get really involved with all of the different communities that are impacting workforce development, education and economic development.”

She added that the Chamber is also involved in legislative work by promoting pro-business legislation and opposing job-killer bills.

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