Honors pile high for Lindsteadt’s efforts

Gilroy
– The collaborative effort that turned Gilroy into a big-box
mecca has earned the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation a
grand prize award for innovative economic-development
partnerships.
Gilroy – The collaborative effort that turned Gilroy into a big-box mecca has earned the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation a grand prize award for innovative economic-development partnerships.

Gilroy received the award from the California Association for Local Economic Development for creating a special assessment district to finance the widening of Highway 152 from two to four lanes. The $21-million project allowed the creation of Gilroy Crossing and Pacheco Pass shopping centers. The city beat out 11 other finalists for the 2004 CALED award, including the Los Angeles Community Development Department.

“These are all projects that demonstrate very unique partnerships in economic development,” said Jane Howard, interim head of the EDC. “Gilroy was competing against really large cities and counties, which is another example of the leadership and accomplishments under the direction of Bill Lindsteadt.”

The former economic development director, who died in January, is widely credited for igniting the retail boom in Gilroy and keeping the city budget out of the red during tough economic times. Under his stewardship, the city boosted its annual taxable sales revenues from $600-million in 1996 to nearly $1.16-billion in 2003.

The Highway 101/152 Crossroads development, as it is known, “was the obstacle that needed to be overcome to get the shopping centers to even come to Gilroy,” Howard said. “It dealt with how we were going to get the infrastructure built.”

The project started in 1997, just a year after Lindsteadt took on the role of Gilroy’s first economic development director. It required developers to partner with city officials to create a special tax assessment district that financed $5.5-million of the roadwork, with the remainder coming from the Valley Transit Authority. Howard said economic incentive programs, fashioned by Lindsteadt and city officials, generated initial interest among big-box “anchor” stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, city officials expanded programs that waive front-end development fees – in exchange for a guarantee of certain amounts of tax revenue or new jobs – to allow small- and medium-sized shopping centers and businesses to also benefit.

In addition to recognizing the Gilroy EDC’s efforts, CALED honored Lindsteadt for his 20-year effort to promote economic development throughout the state. His wife, Raisa, accepted a Shining Star award on his behalf.

Lindsteadt’s efforts to attract biotechnology and industrial firms earned the Gilroy EDC a 2002 grand prize award from CALED in the category of marketing and promotion.

City officials, developers, and others will honor Lindsteadt’s contributions by naming a cross-road in Pacheco Pass, off Camino Arroyo Boulevard, in his honor. The ceremony takes place across from Lowe’s at 10am today.

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