Lindsay open for business
City has space and labor force available
LINDSAY — The town of Lindsay is a phoenix when it comes to economics.
“We’ve survived two major freezes,” said Mike Camarena city services director.
One occurred in 1990 that wiped out the town’s citrus industry and over 50% of the town’s workforce was left without employment.
Twenty-two years later the city has tried to diversify itself.
“There hasn’t been a big shift. The biggest thing is the closing of the plant. Over the years they’ve made that up with different businesses like Vita-Pakt,” said Bill Sanders a former Lindsay resident and former Tulare County Board of Supervisor member.
One new business that is interested in relocating to Lindsay is Dealers Choice Inc., a used car dealership. On Tuesday night, the city council approved a request by the company to establish the said car lot. According to the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce website, major employers in the area include 10 citrus packing houses.
But the economy is driven by more than just fruit. From manufacturing to salons, to restaurants and shopping, the town has morphed into a conglomeration of entrepreneurship with a bevy of small businesses replacing larger enterprises.
“We’re hoping to get new businesses in town,” said Virginia Loya the executive director of the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce.
In June Central Valley Payroll opened and Willie’s Market reopened after a renovation.
“I’m very excited to work here,” said Central Valley Payroll owner Maria Guitterez who operates the farm labor contraction payroll service with her husband, Miguel.
Lindsay’s major employers include the Lindsay Unified School District and National Diversified Sales, which manufactures plastic drainage, but it wasn’t always this way.
Mayor Ed Murray said he remembers a time when the city had big chain stores including a JCPenney’s, a Woolworth’s and a Ben Franklin’s.
On the manufacturing side, the city has seen its share of closures.
“The Lindsay Olive Company left in 1989 or 1990,” said Murray.
In 2011, the Tulare frozen foods plant, located in the same building as the Olive company, shut down. Murray and Kimball would like to see the place reused.
“I would really like to see a larger employer,” said Kimball.
However she is aware of the realities.
“There is big turnover rate of businesses in Lindsay. There’s not a lot of longevity in many of the store fronts,” Kimball said.
Camarena pointed out that there is available space.
“We have several parcels identified as Industrial Zone. It’s been many years since we looked at development,” said Camarena.
One area that may find resuscitation is the automobile industry with the addition of the Dealers Choice car lot.
Murray and Kimball remember a time when the Ford and Chevrolet dealerships were in town.
“My parents could decide if they wanted a Ford or Chevy,” said Kimball.
In the future Murray would like more specialty stores to come to town.
“I would like to see a Payless Shoe Store and more smaller stores open up. With an economically priced shoe store you could make some money here in town,” said Murray who added that big box stores would not be coming to Lindsay.
One of the community’s boons is the workforce.
“We have plenty of labor here and once trained the people have the ability to do the jobs, no doubt,” Murray said.