At the December 21 Visalia City Council work session, a 5-0 vote was tallied by the council in favor of an incentive package to convince Nordstrom to locate an E-Center in Visalia’s Industrial Park. Visalia is competing with Fresno and another location out of state, possibly in Nevada. The E-Center, or fulfillment center, would service the entire Western United States and could provide up to 1875 jobs to Visalia and the surrounding area. Nordstrom does $2.4 billion in internet sales annually.
The city staff recommended that Visalia make the same offer in terms of incentives as Fresno, but Visalia’s offer ended up being much better. California industrial park developer Pat Daniels of MSJ Partners said that the property was priced “very aggressively,” putting Fresno at a significant disadvantage. Daniels has been negotiating with Nordstrom for about a year. The property is located in Visalia’s Industrial Park, north of Riggin Avenue and east of Plaza Drive.
Other advantages to locating in Visalia are the ambiance and pro-business atmosphere. Daniels says that he deals with millions of acres of Industrial Park land in California and that Visalia has been the most enjoyable to work with. Councilman Greg Collins said that it is difficult for site locators to put a dollar value on quality of life, a vibrant down town, the many parks, and everything else that makes Visalia a great location. A representative from the Joann’s Distribution Center spoke and said that, while Nordstrom is much bigger, because of Visalia’s smooth permitting process, Joann’s had their building up and running within six months.
That was 15 years ago and the process has since gotten even easier.
Visalia’s Economic Development Manager, Devon Jones, explained that another huge advantage is that Tulare County has more candidates per job opening than Fresno. Jones said that the Visalia/Porterville area is listed as in the Top 10 US Metro Areas for Logistics Labor, meaning that it has one of the biggest labor pools in the country. No other metro area in California was in the top ten.
Lastly, Visalia set a lower threshold for when Nordstrom no longer receives incentives. If Nordstrom provides less than 700 jobs in Fresno no incentives will be paid.
In Visalia, that threshold is 500 jobs.
The incentives given Nordstrom for locating to either location is $12,000 per fulltime job up to 875 jobs, then $10,000 for each fulltime job after that. The benefits received from hosting Norstrom in property tax, sales tax, jobs and support businesses far outweighs the cost of the incentives.
Many city representatives were in attendance to voice their support for Visalia. Porterville City Manager, John Lollis, emphatically supported the project and joked that he wished the same discussion was happening during the Porterville City Council meeting. Scott Harness, Vice Mayor of Dinuba, said, “A rising tides lifts all boats,” and that all of the cities are standing together and support getting the Nordstrom fulfillment center to Visalia. John Jansons, Farmersville city manager, applauded Visalia’s efforts to bring this project into Tulare County.
All five Visalia City Council Members voiced their support for the incentive package to get Nordstom to Visalia. Councilmember Bob Link said that he believes that Visalia will receive far more sales tax than what is projected because ordering on-line is the future.
“This is a high quality company,” he said, “and will send the message that Visalia is a good place to do business.”
Councilmember Warren Gubler said, “Visalia truly is the Jewel of the Valley, with good people and a good work force,” adding that the Nordstrom’s E-Center would be a nice magnet for the industrial park and show that Tulare County can host big projects like this better than other communities.
Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen said that this is a win-win for the county. “We have great companies in the Industrial Park,” he said, indicating that they are in support of Nordstrom joining them.
Councilmember Amy Shuklian said she was in full agreement with Collins about the quality of life in Visalia. She said that she lived in Fresno for 15 years and that’s what drove her to relocate and settle in Visalia.
“I still have my Nordstrom card though–so I’m ready for this.”