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Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Lancaster OKs Economic Stimulus Plan

The Lancaster City Council approved a plan to spur local spending by offering rebates to residents shopping at retailers and car dealerships. The full economic stimulus package the council unanimously approved on Feb. 10 is expected to bring in a $110 million boost to the city and wider Antelope Valley region. The stimulus package is made up of five areas – merchant assistance; forming a tourism and visitors bureau; public infrastructure construction; developer/broker Assistance; and new city revenues. To help area retailers, the city for a limited time will offer rebates to residents who buy a car at the Lancaster Auto Mall. For instance, purchasing and registering a $30,000 vehicle will bring the buyer a $300 gift card for use at Lancaster shops. Shoppers who spend $300 in products or serves will receive a $30 gift card. “It is way to recycle money ,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Not only does the auto dealer benefit but so do the local merchants.” The infrastructure portion of the program includes work on a Antelope Valley Freeway-Avenue I interchange; and two new parks, and a Museum and Art Gallery in the downtown area. The city will continue with a program to buy up foreclosed homes, refurbish them and selling them to families. The city has so far spent about $20 million on purchasing the homes, Parris said. Homeownership is key to reducing crime in Lancaster. Statistics collected by the city showed that having too many rental properties contributed to a rise in crime, Parris said. “We are doing everything we can to slow that down,” Parris said. An amnesty program for people owing money is expected to bring in as much as $500,000. The program would temporarily allow those owing money to pay the debt without incurring a penalty. The city will set aside $100,000 to give as commissions to brokers who find tenants for vacant industrial, office and retail building space. For a new lease, a broker will receive an extra 2 percent commission, while a sale brings an extra 1 percent commission. Filling the city’s hotel rooms particularly on weekends will be the goal of the new Convention Visitors Bureau. Weekdays are no problem when lodging is needed by visitors to the nearby military bases and aerospace companies but the weekends are another story. The city wants to promote and sponsor sports events, festivals and filming to contribute to the $22 million economic impact expected from that part of the plan. Lancaster has a premier national soccer center with 35 fields available for tournaments. There are many other activities available in the area that do not get promoted, Parris said. “We need to put it under one roof,” Parris said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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