What About Distribution, Warehousing For The Future?

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Publisher
July 20, 2017

When Amazon announced the opening of a major distribution center in Fresno recently, our first thought was: “Why not in our county?"
We have one of the best locations in all of California for a warehousing and distribution center, and it is not being used.
In fact, considering some inside sources, we are led to believe that those people who are supposed to be out looking for potential businesses to fill places like Castle Commerce and Development Center, and other sites, are not doing an adequate job.
The old Walmart distribution site sits vacant after five years of legal haggling. Merced was supposed to gain 600 good paying jobs from this distribution center which got bogged down in the courts. Nothing happened and nothing has happened since.
Castle sits waiting for development since 1995 when the former Air Force base closed. There was a glimmer of hope when UPS was looking for a new location, but the politicians in Sacramento would not allow one of their biggest employers go. Our understanding is that benefits were offered to keep UPS in Sacramento while local efforts went unnoticed.
A key to Castle’s future is the airport capacity for large air freight carriers. FED X is now buying its own airplanes to handle an increase in distribution which is coming along with Internet sales.
The last thing we heard from Castle’s Development Department was that it was looking to cut off part of the runway. What a terrible idea! The one asset which no one else has, and our county is thinking of doing away with it.
We hear repeatedly that the problem with the valley is not that it doesn’t have the workers, but that the workers are not educated at the level which industries need them.
Warehousing and Distribution may not be a high tech job, nor does it require a high degree of advanced education. And despite new robotics and drone technology, these operations still require a lot of manpower — the kind which we have waiting for employment here in our area.
Our focus should be in these two areas, and when the county and city spend money on companies who are supposed to be marketing our sites; they should require something for their money. Evaluate what opportunities we have and seek businesses which will use these facilities.
As a footnote, we are glad to see the City of Merced hire Scott McBride, a man who has been a major asset to Atwater, and should bring that kind of background to helping with future development in the city of Merced.
One of his first jobs will be to attract businesses like Amazon which need to build additional warehousing and distribution centers to meet tomorrow’s demands.


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