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Plant Transfer Means Jobs
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Riverbank City Council was due Monday to approve transfer of the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant to the city at no cost under an arrangement with the Army called an economic development conveyance (EDC).

The city's project manager Debbie Olson reminded the council in her written report that the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) was formed in 2006 to guide the city through the base reuses and closure process and this was approaching completion.

The LRA has three goals, she said; to use the former Army base to better the economic condition of the community and provide the maximum number of jobs; to set a high standard of environmental responsibility for current and future users; and to ensure the reuse plan makes a regional impact.

In her report, Olson noted the importance to the local and regional economy of converting the ammo plant to a successful industrial park without losing jobs.

The base closure will result in the loss of 89 direct jobs associated with the shell casing production, 122 indirect jobs and a potential 300 jobs in loss of private business tenants.

Riverbank is "already taking a beating" from the economic downturn. Its unemployment rate sits at 22.7 percent, the worst for a city in Stanislaus County and almost twice the state's rate.

The proposed EDC transfer of property, however, is expected to result in significant job creation, starting with the retention and expansion of the existing tenants. Added to this are expansion of two local businesses that will locate on currently undeveloped parts of the site and three "green" energy businesses that plan to locate there in the first year after conveyance.

Conservative estimates call for close to 1,400 permanent jobs at the site within eight years, Olson said.