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Barstow looking to increase business activity, development, jobs
BARSTOW • The City of Barstow is optimistic it will find ways to attract manufacturers and businesses to help boost revenue while increasing the number of local jobs in the coming year.
Barstow Economic Development and Planning Manager Gaither Loewenstein said adding industrial and manufacturing jobs is a high priority for the city this year.
Loewenstein feels the city will attract more commercial and housing development because there has been “a lot of pent-up demand for those things in Barstow.”
According to Loewenstein, building homes and bringing major stores in to Barstow would dramatically improve the employment base in the city.
City Manager Curt Mitchell reiterated Loewenstein’s statements and added that infrastructure will be a key factor for development.
“We’re going to be looking to get more jobs, particularly industrial jobs and other economic development opportunities,” Mitchell said. “We will also continue our focus on renovating our infrastructure. We’ve got a couple of major street projects that we will be done this year, as well as continuing the upgrade of our wastewater treatment plant.”
According to Loewenstein, the majority of the year will be spent working on the general plan revision. The plan that guides growth and development for the whole city, including housing, commercial and industrial development.
Loewenstein said the city is in the process of hiring consultants and will be presenting the revised plan to the planning commission in a public hearing, the date of which has yet to be determined.
Potential plans to revamp the downtown Barstow stretch along Main Street are also a priority, Loewenstein said.
“We’re also going to be looking into the downtown area, because it’s the longest stretch of historic Route 66 that is still a main street and in operation,” Loewenstein said. “We’re looking at possibly doing some plans for that area, but we really need someone to invest that first dollar.”
Barstow spokesman Anthony Riley said the Barstow Film Office will take advantage of renewed state tax credits for the film industry and will aggressively market Barstow to filmmakers — which should help local businesses when film crews come to town.
According to Riley, the Barstow Film Office used virtual tours, mostly in 2013, to market the old Barstow Community Hospital, Harvey House and other landmarks throughout the city. The marketing paid off as several films were shot in Barstow along with a Dodge commercial that was filmed on the First Street bridge.
“One of the things we offer to prospective filmmakers is low permit fees of $100 a day,” Riley said. “We have a low-cost film permit fee, a 50,000-square-foot facility known as the old BCH building (and) the Harvey House. There are so many things here that we have and people in the film industry are looking at us and saying ‘Wow, you guys have these assets in your backyard that we would like to take advantage of.’ ”
Riley said the Barstow Film Office will spend 2014 marketing Barstow by filming “teaser-trailers” to replace the virtual tours of landmarks around the city and points of interest that make Barstow unique.
Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com.