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Before the Colusa City Council agrees to spend $75,000 on a consultant to help spring the old Pirelli Cable plant back to life, they plan to fully vet the proposal at a special meeting on March 10.
The City Council, gun-shy after the city spent more than $300,000 on economic development consultants nearly a decade ago that delivered no results, last week postponed approving the contract with Golden Oaks Business Services because recent discussions on marketing the shuttered manufacturing site as a business hub, of sorts, for processing biomaterials (hemp) have been done mostly behind closed doors.
“The project as a whole – the whole premise – has not been brought to the council in any form,” said Councilman Greg Ponciano, at their Jan. 18 meeting. “I would think the council needs to hear what we’re chasing before we commit the dollars to go chase it.”
Pirelli Cable, which was one of the city’s largest employers, shut its doors to manufacturing in 2002, and the building and property have been vacant since.
Colusa City Manager Jesse Cain said he tried courting manufacturing companies for several years to take over the plant, but the 200,000 square-foot facility has proven simply too large for most single manufacturers.
Cain recently hooked up with Kristy Levings, of Golden Oaks, and has had multiple meetings with agencies regarding grant opportunities, has talked to stakeholders, and has had one-on-one discussions with council members about the city’s prospects of filling the site with multiple small biomaterial businesses and start-ups. The city is even thinking about buying the property to lease space to businesses looking to cash in on the growing hemp industry, now that it has been approved by the local, state, and federal government as an agricultural crop.
“We’re trying to figure out what to do,” Cain said.
The City Council’s contract with Levings, if approved, would be for $6,891 per month through Dec. 31, unless terminated for “just cause” with a 30-day notice.
The council postponed approving the contract until the March 10 special meeting because they felt they and the public deserved to hear more about the project first.
“It needs to be vetted publicly before we decide if that is the path we want to go down,” said Ponciano, who admitted being nervous about spending the money while labor negotiations are going on.
Levings is expected to give a full presentation on the work she has done so far, and what she plans to do over the next 10 months to turn the former manufacturing site into the “Colusa Advanced Biomaterials Hub.”
“I think it is definitely something we should at least look at,” said Councilman Brent Nobles.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 PM. ■