Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, CA
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young
The High Desert is being transformed into a major logistics hub for the entire Southwest, thanks to the redevelopment of a shuttered Air Force base into the Southern California Logistics Airport.
In the process, the project is turning a painful loss from Victorville's past into a huge victory for its future.
Reclaiming Old Air Force Base
When George Air Force Base closed in 1992, amid a nationwide wave of base closures, it sucked 8,500 jobs out of the local economy overnight. But even though the jobs were gone, the Air Force base's assets remained. A plan formed to turn those assets into a new jobs engine.
The old air base is being transformed into a multimodal distribution hub that will allow companies to quickly move products internationally, as well as throughout Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.
Located less than 100 miles from Los Angeles, Southern California Logistics Airport sits on 8,500 acres and is expected to eventually employ as many as 30,000 people.
The decades-long project is still in its infancy, but "over the long term, without question, the job growth will be substantial," says Keith Metzler, the director of economic development for Victorville and the airport.
SCLA's Huge Scale
Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Stirling Development is building the project in a private-public partnership with the city of Victorville.
About 60 million square feet of commercial and industrial space is envisioned. At 50- to $120-per-square-foot, depending on eventual building type, the project will cost $3 billion to $7.2 billion to build.
So far, about three million square feet of space has been built, and about 2,500 full-time jobs have been created. The project has employed as many as 1,000 workers in a given day.
Vito Bello, marketing manager for The Mall of Victor Valley, says that the SCLA project has raised the area's profile, and he expects retailers to follow the influx of jobs.
Businesses already at SCLA include Boeing, Verizon, the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, DHL, the U.S. Marine Corp., Plastipak Packaging Inc.
Brian Parno, Stirling's chief operating officer, says he expects SCLA to attract three major industries: aviation companies, food and beverage processors, and distribution companies.
SCLA's two runways are 15,050- and 9,100-feet long, making each one capable of handling intercontinental travel. Boeing has used the airport to test flight its 787 Dreamliner, while the military uses it to test predator drones. The desert climate, which makes for perfect flight weather, also makes it an ideal location for aircraft storage and maintenance since the arid climate prevents rust.
Parno says that excellent water and sewage capacity makes SCLA an ideal place for food and beverage companies like Dr. Pepper, which uses SCLA to serve the Southwest, as well as Asian markets.
The rail component will be the final prong. As Southern California continues to grow, companies will be able to turn to SCLA in order to avoid congestion and take advantage of lower costs.
Together, the three components will give the High Desert a level of economic diversity that it lacked when the Air Force left town.
"I think in the long run it will prove to be a reversal of fortune," Parno says of the rebirth. "It will be an even more positive economic driver for the region than it was before."
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