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Manteca benefits from Amazon locating in Tracy

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POSTED February 11, 2013 9:52 p.m.

Tracy landed an Amazon fulfillment center and an accompanying 1,000 jobs.

That’s good news for Manteca.

Yes, there are those who want to know why Manteca didn’t score the million-square-foot distribution center.

Manteca Economic Development specialist Don Smail points out that the only location in Manteca that can currently accommodate the Amazon construction schedule and a million-square-foot building - CenterPoint - has heavy train movements.

That doesn’t fit into the same-day and 24-hour turnaround model that Amazon is deploying to serve the lucrative Bay Area and Sacramento markets. Train movements connected with the nearby Union Pacific rail-to-truck facility would have built-in delays in moving goods to customers. Even 15 minutes can be a time killer in the competitive world of same-day delivery. And with the UP intermodal facility looking to more than double in traffic in the coming years, it wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for Amazon.

Manteca more than likely did play a role in Amazon’s decision. First, as Smail points out, Manteca was used by Amazon to leverage Tracy. It’s a standard negotiating trick. Pit one community against the other to get the best city fee deals. But at the same time what is a drawback for Amazon is also a plus.

More and more goods are moving by truck via rail cars. That means being close to both the Union Pacific facility and the Santa Fe intermodal operation northeast of Manteca works well for the delivery of goods to the Amazon fulfillment center.

In many ways, job creation is a regional effort. The sum of all of the parts is greater than just what one community can offer.

And Manteca will benefit immensely from Amazon being in Tracy — just 15 miles away. You can rest assured Manteca residents will land jobs there.

If you doubt that, consider this: Back in the late 1980s, when Manteca’s council refused to allow Yellow Freight to build a freight terminal on the southwest quadrant of the Main Street and 120 Bypass interchange, the trucking firm ended up building a terminal along Interstate 205 in Tracy.

This infuriated some in Manteca who accused the council of chasing away jobs. The council majority believed it was a bad location for a trucking firm and that it would negatively impact smart growth.

When Yellow Freight opened in Tracy just under one out of every four jobs were filled by Manteca residents.

But wouldn’t there have been more Mantecans working for Yellow Freight if they had located in Manteca? Perhaps, but it might not be as big a number as you’d think.

Back when Indy Electronics was the biggest employer in Manteca, they had 700 workers at the now-shuttered Industrial Park Drive location. The vast majority were from Stockton.

A San Joaquin Partnership survey done 14 years ago, when several Manteca council members were arguing the city got nothing for its $30,000 annual contribution for the quasi-public agency that scours the country for potential employers, also underscored the regional impact of job generation.

The Partnership showed that 28 percent of all the jobs they helped bring to neighboring Lathrop were filled by people who resided in Manteca.

Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop, Stockton, and Ripon all bring slightly different things to the table when it comes to being able to snare jobs.

That’s why a coordinated regional effort such as the one provided by the San Joaquin Partnership ultimately benefits everyone, regardless of where a firm locates in the South County.

And if you doubt that, remember that more than 30 percent of Manteca heads over the Altamont Pass to jobs. Driving 15 miles to work at Amazon, in comparison, barely passes as a commute.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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