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Exports pump life into SJ economy
Shipping means 670 Manteca, Lathrop jobs
The Port of Stockton is expected to help generate jobs in Manteca and Lathrop. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Almonds and wine — much of it produced by agri-business in Manteca-Ripon — helped send San Joaquin County’s exports soaring past the $1.1 billion mark in 2011.

That represents a 22-percent jump over 2010 when county exports hit $914 million

At the same time, Port of Stockton export shipments more than doubled going from $244 million in 2010 to $515 million in 2011.

A report by the Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific anticipates the $30 million maritime highway project that developed a staging area at the Port of Stockton for moving containers by barge between the Stockton and Oakland ports will provide steady job growth. It is anticipated to add at least 670 jobs in Manteca and Lathrop over the next five years.

The port container facility that includes two cranes was completed several months ago.

It is also expected to have a big impact on valley air quality as well as reduce traffic congestion on Interstate 205-Interstate 580.

One barge can transport 456 containers that would otherwise move by truck. Upwards of 1,600 containers are moved daily between the ports in Oakland and Stockton.

The maritime highway is a major reason why the Union Pacific Railroad is expanding its Lathrop intermodal facility.

Maritime highway key factor in UP intermodal expansion decision

Union Pacific is expected to move toward breaking ground this year on the expansion of the Lathrop facility for transferring trailers from trucks to rail flat cars and vice versa.

And when it is done, the regional capacity for intermodal movements will soar to 1.3 million units a year. That reflects the combined capacity of the UP complex and the Santa Fe intermodal facility north off Manteca between Austin Road and Jack Tone Road. It is the equivalent of 3,561 truck movements a day.

The UP facility on Roth Road that abuts the Manteca city limits and the railroad tracks currently can handle up to 270,000 lifts or containers a year. At build-out that number will reach 730,000 lifts.

The 2001 expansion of the Santa Fe facility increased that railroad’s intermodal capacity in San Joaquin County from 120,000 to 300,000 units annually.

The expansion of the UP intermodal facility in Lathrop is expected to double the current workforce of 67 railroad workers to 137.

CenterPoint anticipates moving forward in the next several months with a 3.1-million-square-foot business park tailor-made for distribution firms that rely heavily on intermodal transport. It is being built directly across from the UP facility and within Manteca’s city limits. Center Point’s future tenants are expected to provide 600 permanent jobs.

That, however, is expected to be just the tip of the iceberg. The UP move will increase the demand for truck transportation in the area. That will make the immediate community - Manteca and Lathrop particularly - even more attractive to firms that are starting to do more and more cross-country shipping by rail due to the short trips to the intermodal facility.

UP spokesmen have pointed out that the facility expansion ultimately will reduce truck traffic on major freeways as one freight train moving trailer containers does the work of 280 long-distance trucks.

Export demand helping fuel Delicato expansion

The growing demand for California- grown fruits and vegetables as well as wine is already spurring job growth around Manteca.

It is a big reason why Delicato Family Vineyards is moving forward with a three-phase project to expand its annual crushing capacity by almost 43 percent. The winery will go from 140,000 tons of grapes to 200,000 tons of grapes over the course of five years. It ultimately will add just over 250 various tanks to the existing tank farms. The winery is located at Highway 99 and French Camp Road north of Manteca.

Delicato last year leased a 533,000-square-foot warehouse in Spreckels Park to consolidate all of their distribution operations. The warehouse is located between Ford Motor Company’s Small Parts Distribution Center and Millard Refrigeration Services.

Some 230 of DFV Wines’ 350 year-round employees work in the Manteca winery along Highway 99 southwest of the French Camp interchange. They also have another 350 seasonal employees.

County exports have grown steadily since 2005 when the overall value was pegged at $629 million.

Most wines’ almonds and other food products grown and processed in San Joaquin County do not currently pass through the Port of Stockton. Rice accounts for 78.1 percent of the dollar value and 46.3 percent of the volume.

While the port is seen as creating more transit related jobs, the UOP study predicts a growing export business fueling primary job growth in food processing related concerns within the county.

The report by the Eberhardt School of Business was conducted in conjunction with the San Joaquin Council of Governments.