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CONCORD, CA-The Concord City Council has adopted a new Economic Development Action Plan that it hopes will convince existing businesses to stay and expand while also attracting new business to the area.

At a recent council meeting, city staff approved a $4 million loan to Fry’s Electronics to enable it to open a new store in the Park and Shop center. Concord Mayor Bill McManigal warned city council members that the loan could be misinterpreted as a bribe to businesses. However, city council members say that the loan is in line with the city’s new plan, which aims to “retain, expand, develop, and attract businesses.”

According to city officials, Concord’s central location makes the City a regional draw for the majority of its existing and emerging business clusters. Because of Concord’s strategic location, these firms tend to be regional in nature, relying on a regional customer base and supplier network.

City officials say the success of Concord’s big-box retailers is primarily due to their ability to draw from a regional customer base. This advantage has also attracted new retailers to Concord such as Expo Design Center and Costco. The Fry’s loan is justified under the new plan, as it is expected to create 250 jobs and bring in about $18 million in sales tax over the next 20 years.

The Concord Fry’s Electronics store, which will be located in the former Levitz furniture store at the Park & Shop center on Willow Pass Road, will be the first to open in the Bay Area outside of the Silicon Valley and Fremont. The site will be remodeled into a 146,500-sf store, including a 43,000-sf mezzanine for offices and product storage.

The new plan calls for business-oriented focus groups, a streamlined permitting process and an economic development department, which will help fund new businesses and find land for expansions. The city will also host “Cash In on Concord” workshops, on topics of interest to business owners, including financing, leasing, manufacturing and retailing. The city hopes that the new plan will enable it to communicate with businesses, identify their needs and solve any problems that may keep them from relocating to or staying in Concord.

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