When Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal thinks about the future of Lathrop, he sees a lot less traffic headed west in the morning across the Altamont.
While the idea of reversing the commute to the Bay Area by bringing Bay Area companies to the Central Valley – either though satellite locations or new offices where land is far cheaper and more plentiful and a large portion of their workforce already lives – is a long-term one, Dhaliwal, who earned a third-term as mayor by promoting the idea of job creation, believes that the city is on the right track to move forward.
And there could be big news on the horizon.
After a prolific stretch where the city secured a Tesla manufacturing facility, a new UPS distribution center and the repurposing of the shuttered Pilkington manufacturing plant into a Kraft Heinz distribution warehouse, Lathrop is gearing up to announce the names of two additional companies that are currently in negotiations to call Lathrop home.
With developers dedicated towards building complexes that will serve as attractive options for companies looking to relocate, the boom that has helped Lathrop factor into the South San Joaquin County growth conversation appears to be far from over.
“Having these companies come here is going to create more jobs and it’s going to bring us good-paying jobs,” Dhaliwal said of relocation efforts that are being made to Bay Area companies that may be running out of room for capital for future expansion projects. “We can show them that we have land that is available cheaper than what they’ll find there and we have their workforce waiting for them – most of those already commute over there.
“We’re never going to be able to completely reverse that commute, but if things go as they have we will be able to reduce it and help bring more jobs to the South County where our residents can enjoy more time with their families.”
Dhaliwal, who as a commuter to Santa Clara knows what the grind is like along one of the most densely-packed roadway systems in California during peak hours, said that the council remains committed to the prospect of job creation and growth by backing projects that they know will make the city attractive to companies looking to come here.
In one example, the South Lathrop Specific Plan – which will completely transform what is now a vacant plot east of I-5 and just north of the Highway 120 Bypass into a 315-acre mixed-use project that will include millions of square feet of light industrial spec buildings – at least one approaching a million square feet on its own – that will help steer the city towards a new future.
Dhaliwal said he couldn’t comment on the arrival of the two new businesses that have agreed to break ground in Lathrop, but said that efforts are underway at the city level to bring as many jobs as possible to the community. He used the example of Tesla, which kept its expansion into the Central Valley a secret all the way through the negotiation process with the city because of the torrent of media that coverage that would and did come after the announcement was made, as just one of the success stories that helps keep Central Valley residents working within the Central Valley.
“There are now 500 to 600 less cars driving over the Altamont every day because they decided to come here,” Dhaliwal said. “Those are the kinds of things that as a council and as a city we’re trying to bring here, and with our location and the freeways and the rail it’s an attractive option.
“There are more companies on the horizon, and Tesla is a good sign that companies are willing to follow where their workforce happens to be.”