KERN BUSINESS JOURNAL
April / May 2015
PHOTO COURTESY OF ROLL GLOBAL
American Tire Distributors’ 1-million-square-foot distribution center in the Paramount Logistics Park will soon begin operation.
Kern County set to grow ‘distribution center’ industry By Dianne Hardisty
ern County has long been dependent on oil production and agriculture to fuel its economy. But with logistics and warehousing emerging as powerhouses, the local economy is no longer a “two-trick pony,” concludes R. Brent Green, Shafter’s business development director. Kern is becoming home to some of the nation’s largest distribution centers, which put the products of online merchandisers, as well as brick-and-mortar stores within reach of millions of consumers. The logical places to locate distribution centers are near West Coast ports, especially the Los Angeles-Long Beach and Oakland ports. But these ports and the roads that surround them are plagued by traffic congestion. Land zoned for industrial development in the Southern California basin is being gobbled up and real estate prices are skyrocketing. Adding to development costs are new fees and regulations cash-strapped Inland Empire cities are layering on builders. Developers now are looking for al-
ternative locations. Increasingly, they are turning their eyes toward Kern County, which is less than 100 miles from the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach and 230 miles from the Port of Oakland. “The Tejon Ranch Commerce Center has several advantages,” said Barry Zoeller, Tejon’s vice president of corporate communications and marketing. “It’s great being located right on Interstate 5” and able to serve 97 percent of California consumers within a single day’s truck turnaround. Tejon Ranch Commerce Center is home to such mega-distribution centers as Caterpillar Logistics Inc., IKEA, Famous Footwear and Dollar General. The company is engaged in confidential discussion with other developers for future projects. Tejon Ranch officials use Kern County’s “business friendly” regulatory environment and streamlined permitting processes as selling points. As an example, they note that from “deal to delivery,” Tejon was able to get the Caterpillar parts center permitted and built in just eight months. Also attractive is Kern County’s relatively low land prices,
PHOTO COURTESY OF TEJON RANCH
Tejon Ranch Commerce Center’s location on Interstate 5 puts distribution centers within a single day’s truck turnaround from 97 percent of California’s consumers.
wages and transportation costs. Just a few miles north of Tejon on Highway 99 is the city of Shafter, where Roll Global’s Paramount Logistics Park is located. Shafter is developing an intermodal rail facility to serve industrial clients, including those in the Paramount Logistics Park. This year, around 4 million square feet of distribution center space will come on line in the Paramount Logistics Park, with the massive Ross for Less and American Tire distribution centers, as well as a FedEx ground hub beginning operation. Shafter also is home to Target, State Farm, Hillman Group, Formica, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Weatherford. John Guinn, Roll Global’s vice
president of forward planning, said his company is in talks with at least three confidential clients interested in bringing additional projects to Shafter. The city’s location along two rail lines and a major highway, as well as the intermodal rail facility, enhance Paramount Logistics Park’s attraction. Shafter’s Green reports the city has completed installation of 17,500 feet of railroad track, with 9,000 feet uninterrupted by grade crossings. This allows an entire unit train to be pulled off the main rail line and delivered to industrial tenants. In the intermodal rail facility, conContinued on page 19