New partnership with shipping port could lead to thousands of jobs in the Valley

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A union between North Valley leaders and Southern California shipping port officials could mean billions of dollars for Merced County (KFSN)

A union between North Valley leaders and Southern California shipping port officials could mean billions of dollars for Merced County and thousands of jobs for the area.

County supervisors unanimously agreed to enter an agreement with the Port of Los Angeles in hopes of creating an inland port at the former Castle Air Force Base.

"The opportunity to leverage California greatest asset in the Port of LA to grow our economy in the state and particularly in Merced Country is really good work for us," said Gene Seroka.

Port officials say the Central Valley is an ideal site for industrial development and distribution including automotive and food processing.

With almonds being the state's top commodity, Dave Long says they have been his livelihood since 1980.

From sorting, packing, shipping--Long says Hilltop Ranch sends almonds all over the world, with Castle just a few miles from his factory, he says the port would make the shipping process faster and cheaper.

"It costs us without trucks about $550 to go to the port--going to this local depot would probably be less than $200 per container, and we ship up to 10 containers a day so it'd be significant," said Long.

Both the Port and Castle have direct access to the BNSF Railroad track. Castle's centralized location also provides quick access to freeways and airports.

Supervisor Daron McDaniel says work still needs to be done.

"The Atwater Merced Expressway is very key because we have to get our trucks to 99 which is a fright corridor. Once we get that done this is going to open a lot of possibilities," said McDaniel.

An inland port would create more than 9,000 jobs over a 20 year timeframe. The depot would also generate $3 to $5 billion in total investment.

Merced County and port officials are now headed to speak with state leaders in hopes of getting more support and funding to transform a silent former air base into a bustling port for business.

Related Topics:
careerssouthern californiajobsair forceSouthern California
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