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Manteca working on future jobs
Projects aim to secure employment centers
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Manteca leaders – in partnership with two separate development groups – are quietly working to position the city to snag good paying jobs when the economy starts expanding.

The two projects – the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park and the 273-acre CenterPoint Intermodal Center – are being designed  to snare distribution centers of all sizes from small operations to upwards of a million square feet. The Austin Road Business park straddles its namesake thoroughfare south of its interchange with Highway 99 while CenterPoint is bounded by Lathrop Road, Airport Way, Roth Road and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Manteca and nearby Lathrop, Tracy, and Stockton are popular choices for firms seeking to relocate and consolidate distribution centers to more effectively serve the growing Northern California and West Coast markets. Manteca is at the heart of a triangle that puts Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco all within 75 miles. A 100-mile radius encompassing 17 million consumers puts Manteca-Lathrop at the epicenter. That is why Manteca secured Millard Refrigeration, Dryers Ice Cream, APDS Packaging, and Ford Motor small parts distribution centers among others while Lathrop has landed Ghirardelli Chocolate, Home Depot, JC Penney, and In-n-Out Burgers distribution to name a few.

The 100-mile radius advantage is what prompted BR Funsten to centralize all of its flooring distribution operations in Manteca last year.

Manteca also has a regional advantage as well being within 20 miles of almost 700,000 consumers. That prompted Frito Lay over a decade ago to combine their Stockton and Modesto operations in Manteca. Since then a number of service firms have followed suit. The latest company to do so is JM Equipment that has combined their Stockton and Modesto locations into one in Manteca at the former Sexton Chevrolet site due to its more central location.

Both of the employment center projects are in the environmental review process. There is still a good 18 months to three years before the project would be far enough along to turn dirt for infrastructure.

The two separate groups have invested well over $1 million in funding studies that the city has ordered to review environmental impacts. That is on top of each group’s own planning costs.

When it comes to employment centers, the two projects will give Manteca a wide repertoire of offerings that would be difficult for most cities to match for firms looking to expand or combine operations.

What makes the Center Point project unique is that it is being designed as a true intermodal distribution center.  That means every building would have rail service. Altogether there are four million square feet of such buildings planned.

The location is especially advantageous for two reasons.

First, it is just a few hundred yards from the southeast edge of the Union Pacific intermodal operation and within 10 miles of the Santa Fe intermodal operation that puts truck trailers on and off railroad flat bed cars for long distance transportation. The plus of having the two intermodal railroad operations nearby — one a four-minute drive, if that — and the other 15 minutes away means whatever companies locate there have the capability of moving goods to and from virtually every major market west of the Mississippi River in a  time-efficient manner.

Union Pacific is in the process of planning to quadruple the size of their intermodal (train-to-truck) operation on Roth Road in Lathrop that abuts the CenterPoint project. The intermodal facility currently handles 250,000 tractor trailers of goods annually moving them from rail to trucks and vice versa.

The site is also virtually smack dab at the midway point of Highway 99 and Interstate 5 accessed by Lathrop Road. It is also connected to the Highway 120 Bypass directly via Airport Way, which also provides access to Stockton Metro Airport.

If the distribution center materializes, it will be one of a kind in terms of location and size in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Austin Road will have 8 million square feet of industrial/business park, and office use or space equal to 17 times the coverage area of the Ford Motor Parts distribution center on Spreckels Avenue.

Both Austin Road Business Park and CenterPoint are in the process of being prepared for annexation to the city.