By Dennis Wyatt
The Bay Area’s economic influence on San Joaquin County is growing.
It is why a move is afoot to rename Stockton Metropolitan Airport to San Francisco Stockton Regional Airport.
The recommendation from the County Aviation Advisory Committee goes before the San Joaquin County when they meet on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 9 a.m.
Airport Director Harry Mavrogenes notes the name change is a way of attracting business, increasing the awareness of the airport’s proximity to the Bay Area and promoting regionalism.
San Joaquin County is now part of the Combined Statistical Area of the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland region as the local economy and growth becomes more and more intertwined with the nine core Bay Area counties.
All three major cities have international airports with heavy passenger service as well as some freight service. When companies that need to move freight quickly and long distances locate in major metro areas they often seek locations near airports.
Given the growing congestion at the three airports and the distribution growth in San Joaquin County aimed at serving the high wealth Bay Area, the belief is Stockton Metro Airport can become a major draw to locate jobs in the county. It may not pop up on the radar of some firms not familiar with the regional dynamics due to its existing name.
The fact Stockton has a longer runway to accommodate bigger cargo jets, a manned control tower, and scheduled airline service via Allegiant arguably puts it in the position to be considered the Bay Area’s fourth most important airport.
Amazon is already flying more than three cargo jets daily into Stockton to move goods through distribution centers in the South County that service customers in the Bay Area west of the Altamont Pass. the firm has two fulfillment centers in Tracy, one in Paterson, and is building another near Stockton Airport that will have 1,000 plus employees.
The county has had plans in place to develop a business park on part of the airport property. In addition there is a vast tract of zoned land around the airport that can accommodate distribution centers and other concerns.
The county has been working to position the airport to become the heir apparent for major air cargo movements supporting the Bay Area as well as a secondary airport for scheduled passenger service.
The urban interchange built at Arch Road and Highway 99 more than a decade ago is designed to move a high volume of traffic. In addition the recent completion of the Arch Road-Sperry Road connection across the Union Pacific tracks tying into a new interchange on Interstate 5 gives Stockton Airport unparalleled freeway access to move goods.
The Union Pacific Railroad intermodal facility for truck-train shipping is seven miles away to the south adjacent to the northern boundaries of the cities of Manteca and Lathrop while the Santa Fe Railroad intermodal facility is eight miles to the northeast accessed by taking Arch Road to Austin Road. Toss in the Port of Stockton being 15 minutes away and firms locating in and around Stockton Airport have unparalleled access to transportation to move goods as well as people.
Back in the 1990s before San Jose International Airport sorted out issues with flight restrictions, a number of major high tech companies housed corporate jets out of Stockton as it was easier to fly in and out.
Mavrogenes noted San Francisco represents the core city in the region.
Dedicated by the City of Stockton in 1927 as Stockton Municipal Airport, the airport began as a private ranch providing a location for aerial barnstorming operations in the 1920s. During World War II it was used as an Army training facility. After the war ended, San Joaquin County assumed responsibility for it and began commercial service, including passenger service. Today, it’s a complex general aviation and commercial service facility boasting one of the longest runways in California.