Written by Gabriel Dillard
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand gave community leaders a run through of his first 100 days in office Monday, as well as a look ahead to the future.
Speaking at the Fresno Rotary club luncheon, Brand painted the picture of a city that is getting its fiscal house in order and is primed to add up to 10,000 new jobs in the next eight years, according to his vision.
Brand, who pushed economic development as a cornerstone of his campaign, said an announcement should be eminent on whether e-commerce giant Amazon would build a fulfillment center in Fresno.
If that happens, it would mean the creation of 2,500 jobs, eventually up to 3,000 jobs. Brand, who recently announced that Ulta Cosmetics would also open an e-commerce fulfillment center in town to create up to 1,000 jobs, has spoken about the Amazon deal with an abundance of optimism.
He said that is also what Fresno needs — to see itself as a city that attracts business giants.
“We need to believe in ourselves,” Brand said.
He said the city is still working to attract a Nordstrom e-commerce center, and combining those jobs with potentially 1,500 from a potential high-speed rail heavy maintenance facility, that 10,000-job mark in the next eight years doesn’t seem to far fetched.
Part of his vision for Fresno is as an e-commerce hub, with its central geography, weather, energy prices and water infrastructure investments. He pointed to Kansas City, Missouri, with its 10 e-commerce centers, as a model.
“Fresno will be on the map,” Brand said. “Success breeds success.”
Public safety and quality of life were other key planks in Brand’s mayoral platform. He said he will be introducing a new fiscal year budget in the next couple weeks, with plans to boost the current police force from 764 officers to 824 — the highest level since 2009, he said.
He eventually wants to hit the 1,000 officer mark.
Brand said another key to the region’s success will be a warmer relationship between the City of Fresno and Fresno County. He said May 30 will be the first joint meeting of the two bodies in recent memory.
Brand was also bullish on the downtown region, with the Fulton Mall set to reopen to traffic in the next two to three months, he said.
“Ten years from now, you won’t recognize downtown from what has gone on there,” he predicted.