Merced County: Do Angel's Gate foghorns blast for you?

Submitted: Oct 26, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

If the public does not have a newspaper that will dig into the county's business life, it will never be able to judge important to our citizens of anything important from the so-called "news." Like so "very, very" (to lapse into Trumpian) articles in this McClatchy Chain outlet, this is nothing more than a press release, pathetically concocted by the newspaper itself for the purpose of pleasing local "leaders."

Below the main article is a second one by the same reporter. According to the headline, this piece was supposed to answer more pointed questions about the economic benefits of the proposed project. It reads like the ramblings of a man who has butted his head against the impenetrable wall of economic development jargon, which, if the word "soap" replaced the more meaningless word "development," might result in increased laundry sales.

We want to know what sort of salaries, skills, training, and benefits these alleged employment opportunities in the "trade district" might one day offer. Maybe. We'd like to know what the newspaper means by a "trade district." Free trade district? How does that affect local taxation? Will there be any local taxes levied at all? In other words, will this consortium of potential projects have any positive impact for public services provided by the county?  Or, why and how does a port authority get into the manufacturing business? Manufacturing what? Has environmental review been somehow whisked away in the "trade district"? Or will the economic override of CEQA decisions be automatic as the county plunges into manufacturing deals at Castle, some no doubt of the "public/private, win/win" variety?

What will the UC get out of this? Nothing with economic potential left in the county lies beyond the sticky fingers of the professors and  "entrepreneurial incubators." Will Castle at last become the locus for that "high-tech/bio-tech engine of growth" we were promised to very, very often by the carpetbaggers from UC Oakland Central, who came, saw, and preached the imperative of the New Economy over our tired old, very, very old economy of almonds and milk. The silver-haired carpetbaggers in their royal blue blazers and gold ties were an excitement for a season or two.

Now comes the Port of Los Angeles promising to streamline the exportation of our almonds and powdered milk, stimulating more overdrafting of the aquifer, larger threat to bees, and shorter, more miserable lives to the immense dairy herds that dwell in this county, knee deep in their own excrement.

We may have an old economy but it's a big economy and it is "rationalized" according to all the latest principles of agribusiness: very, very large farms; very, very few owners; very, very high debts; very, very deep wells, and what employment there is left in these agro-industries is a private matter between the agribusinessman and his labor contractor.

But, not to worry, Public. Our County CEO, Jim Brown, said: “It might work,” he said. “It might not work.” No naive booster our Mr. Brown. Not a man to encourage a wave of hysterical speculation among the business classes, at least until the Right People get the inside track if it is determined that any local money can be made at all.

 

But we who are afflicted with a slice of memory of things past at the former Castle US Air Force SAC base, remember Anne Eisenhower (Ike's grand daughter) and her Pegasus scheme, and the amusement park that went broke. The most amusing thing about it was the Sun-Star story of its bankruptcy, which began, in the words of the great Gary L. Jones, "Ding, ding, ding went the bell. Bounce, bounce, bounce went the check."

--blj

 


10-24-17

Merced Sun Star

Merced County inks deal to (maybe) bring in thousands of jobs. But when?

 Thaddeus Miller

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/business/article180710676.html

 

Merced County has landed a deal with the Port of Los Angeles in a plan that leaders say could help revitalize the former Castle Air Base, not to mention bring thousands of jobs to the area in the coming decades.

The board of supervisors voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve the effort to make more than 8 million square feet available for industrial development. Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza was absent.

Leaders have dubbed the space the Mid-California International Trade District in an agreement that partners Merced County with the largest port in North America, according to officials.

The vast majority of the crops grown in Merced are exported out of the region, making an inland port a natural fit in Merced County, according to Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of LA. The port handled more than 182 million metric tons of cargo in 2016.

“It’s in (the) early days as recognized by the county board of supervisors, but we can’t wait to get to work,” he said. “We thought it was a good match to at least start the dialogue and see if we could enable the successive trade here in Merced County.”

Leaders have tried for years to diversify Merced County’s economy, which leans heavily on agricultural industries. The trade district could support 9,000 industrial and other related jobs in 15 to 20 years, and be a potential construction investment of $1 billion, according to the contract signed by both parties.

Castle is connected to Highway 99, and has a direct connection to transcontinental rail lines, as well as its runway, all considered assets for transporting goods.

A partnership with the Port of LA gives area leaders a chance to rub elbows with companies that may want to do business at Castle, and could help pull down state and federal funding for improvements in the area, according to Mark Hendrickson, the Merced County’s community and economic development director.

“We’re going to be interacting more effectively with a wider array of interests and industries,” he said. “We may on a daily basis interface with companies of a global magnitude.”

“We’re going to give our growers, ranchers and manufacturers throughout the San Joaquin Valley a better opportunity to do what they do best,” he said.

The partnership has begun speaking with elected officials in the state, according to Hendrickson.

A contingent of Merced County leaders visited the port earlier this month, including Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose District 3 encompasses Castle.

“We need something to come to fruition. We have so many balls in the air,” he said. “I’m glad the Port of LA was able to step up. They see our vision.”

The former air base landed one of its largest tenants in 2014, which leaders have touted as another asset for reinventing Castle.

Google’s self-driving car company, called Waymo, already has a lease at the former Castle Air Base, which has an Atwater footprint of more than 91 acres, according to the lease, which goes through April 2020.

More than 75 other companies also work out of Castle.

Merced County CEO Jim Brown was quick Tuesday to temper expectations on the deal with the port, though he said he remains optimistic.

“It might work,” he said. “It might not work.”

 

10-24-17

Merced Sun-Star

Could this deal bring thousands of jobs to Merced County?

Thaddeus Miller

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/business/article180563536.html

 

Merced County leaders will be asked today to approve a deal with the Los Angeles Harbor Department in a plan that leaders say could help revitalize the former Castle Air Base and bring thousands of jobs to the area.

The board of supervisors is set to vote on the effort to make more than 8 million square feet available for industrial development. They meet at 10 a.m. in the administration building, 2222 M St.

Leaders have dubbed the proposed space the Mid-California International Trade District. The agreement would partner Merced County with LA’s port, the largest port in North America, according to the agreement.

Leaders have tried for years to diversify Merced’s economy, which leans heavily on agricultural industries. The trade district could support 9,000 jobs and be a potential construction investment of $1 billion, according to the contract.

Castle is connected to Highway 99, and has a direct connection to transcontinental rail lines, as well as its runway, all noted as assets in the agreement.

The former air base landed one of its largest tenants in 2014.

Google’s self-driving car company, called Waymo, has a lease at the former Castle Air Base, which has an Atwater footprint of 91 1/2 acres, according to the lease. The lease goes through April 2020.

More than 75 other companies also work out of Castle.

 

 

| »

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Copy the characters (respecting upper/lower case) from the image.

To manage site Login