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October 21, 2009 > Union City economic development report

Union City economic development report

By Shavon Walker

Economic Development Coordinator Christine Friday presented an update on the city's economic development activities to Council on October 13.

Economic development-retention strategies make it easier for community officials to work together. This, in turn, helps them to deal with problems local businesses face as they grow in the community. Site visits, one-on-one visits or follow-up meetings with owners, industrial roundtables (which include police and fire departments), workshops and forums are some of the ways to achieve this. An economic development website will launch in a few weeks at www.UnionCity4Business.com.

Business Development
Macusight and Delta Pacific are both examples of Union City's business development. Local biotech company Macusight just completed its patient enrolment in four on-going Phase Two trials of Perceiva, a drug to treat ocular disease. Eight months ago, they completed a 15,000 sq. ft. expansion that includes a wet and dry lab and an additional 20 to 25 employees. Delta Pacific Products experienced a 30 to 35 percent growth rate last year and increased their medical product manufacturing by 78 percent.

Business Expansion
Business expansion efforts have focused on attracting entrepreneurs from various technology sectors. They include hardware, software, and green technology. These sectors have high earning potential so the city is committed to encouraging and helping these businesses to be as successful as possible.

Union City has created a business resource guide, with help for business permits. A diversity certification program is also in place to help encourage minority business owners, as well as government contracting opportunities. The city's "Buy Local" program also assists local businesses. Unlike other similar programs, not only does this program have a retail component but it allows small companies to bid first when competing for clients against larger companies.

Axygen Bioscience, acquired by Corning International on September 15, plans to expand further in Union City. Hermant Gupta will remain as CEO. Abaxis, Inc., also has expansion plans but no further information is available at this stage.

Business Recruitment and Marketing
Union City has a number of methods to market and recruit businesses to the area. They include new marketing materials, a business ambassador program, direct marketing campaigns and more.

The city would like to use business familiarization tools which would be done in conjunction with broker roundtables. This would create the opportunity to market some of the 75,000 sq. ft. of wet and dry lab space available and give interested companies a setting in which to acquire that information. Investor roundtables are also very successful; many businesses have received funding because of them, and the city hopes to use the roundtables more often in the future.

Economic and Property Statistics and Trends
The recession has dealt less harshly with Union City than with other areas. There may be fewer jobs than before but annual payroll in the city has expanded by 19 percent as of the end of 2008. This demonstrates the city has attracted quality jobs and more professional employment. Union City has an advantage in that lease rates are lower compared to other areas.

Partnering Organizations
Building community is an integral part of the city's General Plan; consequently, several partnerships have been forged to maximize business retention and development. San Jose Biotech Center, East Bay Economic Development Alliance and the Union City Chamber of Commerce are a few of the participants in these types of alliances.

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