Major company could be coming to Patterson

January 11, 2012 9:57:54 PM PST
There's a lot of excitement in the Central Valley about what could be a huge economic boost. New jobs and new tax revenue could be coming to a town that could use both. There is word that a major company could be building a facility in Patterson, in Stanislaus County.

Many in the area were hoping to hear more about this mysterious project at a special meeting set for Wednesday night, but the meeting has been postponed at least a week so lawyers could look at things. If and when it does go through, this big project could help turn around the struggling local economy.

"We are beside ourselves with joy over this project," said Patterson City Councilmember Annette Smith.

Patterson city leaders are calling it "Project X" -- a deal that could bring a major international company to their little town.

When asked why there was such a need for the secrecy, Smith said, "That is at the request of the end-user. And while they finalize all their details, they prefer to have some privacy in the matter."

Citing a confidentiality agreement, city leaders won't divulge the name of the company just yet, but there is wide speculation it is Amazon that's planning to put a million square foot distribution center on 120 acres on the west side of town.

"First, they're going to bring thousands of jobs to California," said Gov. Jerry Brown last September.

At that time, Brown cut a deal with Amazon to delay collecting online sales tax in California, if the Internet giant created 10,000 new jobs in the state.

The unnamed Patterson center would bring in 1,500 jobs a boon for a town with an unemployment rate approaching 21 percent.

"The agricultural base of our economy has always brought along with it a lot of seasonality and higher unemployment. We've been working hard as a city to diversify our economy over the last few years," said Patterson city manager Rod Butler.

Shawndell King is unemployed and excited about the prospect of all those new jobs. When asked what he thought of $14 to $18 an hour jobs, he said, "I think that's great for the Central Valley because $14-$18 here is like about equivalent to $20 to $30 in the Bay Area," said King.

The new distribution center would join several others already in Patterson, like CVS and Kohls. It would also help offset expected job losses. This week, the 48-year-old Patterson Vegetable Company announced it may close next month.

"In the same week that we're hearing about this, we have four companies that announced that their either planning to shut down or reduce employment to the tune of 750 employees. So I guess it ebbs and flows and comes and goes," said Bill Bassitt from the Stanislaus Alliance.

If this deal is finalized in the coming weeks, it's expected to move it will move very quickly. The company hopes to have this new distribution center open by September of this year in time for the holidays. As for whether it's Amazon or not, that company did not return our calls for comment today.


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