$2.4 million EDA grant expected to lead to jobs in Weed

Steve Gerace
Starbucks is nearing completion in South Weed, and Weed City Manager Ron Stock expects a $2.4 million federal grant to pave the way for other news businesses. By Steve Gerace

The City of Weed has received a grant for $2.4 million from the United States Economic Development Administration to support transportation infrastructure improvement in the South Weed I-5 and Vista Drive interchange.

Weed officials expect the grant to help pave the way for new businesses, including a Love’s, new jobs, and less money spent on road repair in the future.

Weed City Manager Ron Stock said he conservatively estimates the grant will help bring 80 new jobs and $12 million in private investment to the South Weed area.

“Infrastructure improvement is vital to the economic development and community health of the City of Weed. This project will accelerate growth in the area by attracting new businesses and improving the accessibility for existing businesses in South Weed,” Stock states in a press release.

He said in a phone interview that the grant will help fund a $3 million project that’s expected to be done in 2018.

“That would mean new businesses opening in 2019,” Stock said.

Grocery Outlet opened in South Weed this year, Starbucks is scheduled to open soon, and Stock said Love’s has already advertised giving its notice of intention to do an EIR for development there.

He said the Love’s in South Weed “will be only the second one that will have a maintenance facility at the site, which means fairly high paying mechanic jobs.”

Stock said the application process for the third EDA grant Weed has ever received and the first in nine years, began 18 months ago and involved $300,000 in engineering and environmental studies.

The application was nearly a half inch thick in paper and had to be done three times, he said, because of changes requested by the federal government.

The City of Weed was supported in the project by the Siskiyou Economic Development Council, and SEDC program manager Sean Smith wrote the grant and gathered data for it.

The designated area in South Weed serves as a stop for freight haulers and travelers, providing gas, food, and lodging, according to a press release. “Over the past 20 years, the City of Weed has invested significant resources into infrastructure development in South Weed which has resulted in numerous businesses opening in the area and continues to incentivize more businesses to move to the area in the future. This investment in transportation infrastructure will be key to its continued growth and development.

“Completing projects like this one will allow regional businesses to operate more efficiently and would ultimately result in a boost to the local economy. Building new roads in rural America can only help small towns to thrive. These are the types of investments we need to continue making to see that happen,” said Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale).

Stock said the key is replacing asphalt roads with concreate because of the number of trucks, which he expects that number to increase “fairly dramatically” when Love’s comes.

“I always tell people that asphalt may look like a solid, but it’s really a liquid,” Stock said. “When trucks are coming down the hill from Pilot laden with fuel, other drivers know how long it takes them to get up to speed on the highway, so they pull out of Burger King, Taco Bell, and McDonalds and jump out in front of trucks so they don’t get slowed down. That causes trucks to slam on their brakes and roll asphalt down hill.”

He said the City of Weed has been spending $100,000 per year to maintain the roads, but this grant will allow the City to build it in concrete “so we won’t have that expense.”

With the successful completion of this grant application, the City of Weed has obtained $27.4 million in Federal and State grants since 2014, according to the press release. Of that total, $17.3 million was for debris clean up and infrastructure restoration following the Boles Fire, and another $10.1 million in roadway, water line replacement and sewer line replacement funds to replace aging infrastructure. 

Stock said a $1.3 million grant was used for new water lines for the entire Angel Valley at no cost to citizens.

“Obtaining Federal and State grants are a high priority for our community,” Stock explained. “Every dollar we can return to the community is a dollar that our citizens will not have to bear in higher taxes or our customers will not have to bear in higher utility bills.” 

He said he’s proud of the work he and his staff do writing grants. “It’s a major thing we do really well, and it’s really helpful to our citizens that we’re able to obtain these grants.”