Merced County Regional Foreign-Trade Zone No. 226
Foreign-Trade Zone Basics Business Benefits of FTZ Operations California's Central Valley FTZ 226 Locations Free Cost-Benefit Analysis Contact

California's Central Valley

Do you really know what the great Central Valley of California is, where it is, or its claim to fame?

Myth would have it that the area is an extension of Los Angeles or San Francisco. In fact, the Central Valley differs considerably from the rest of the state. Unlike those more notable locations, the Central Valley is a quiet, rural area. It represents 25 percent of the entire state's land but less than 10 percent of its population. The Central Valley is also adjacent to some of the country's best-known national parks: Yosemite, Sequoia, and King's Canyon. Another important fact distinguishing the valley from the highly populated coastal areas of the state is that the Central Valley is one of California's most seismically stable areas -- quite the opposite of the fast-action, big cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Commercial and industrial real estate prices are substantially lower than other locations, especially the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Prices for fully improved properties can be as low as $0.53 per square foot, and the average price per acre is $23,000. The low industrial and commercial property prices provide an incentive for companies to locate in the Central Valley.

The Central Valley is the world's most prolific location for food production and processing. Agriculture drives the valley's economy; the area supplies half the nation's fruits and vegetables. In addition to large agricultural production, the Central Valley is the nation's largest dairy region and is home to the world's largest ice cream plant. The high productivity level in agriculture and agriculture-related companies gives the valley a great advantage. However, the industry is highly cyclical. The Central Valley has recognized the need to diversify its economy. Indeed, it is moving rapidly toward being the new mecca for service businesses, distribution centers, high-technology service centers, and manufacturing industries. The valley will become the home for the newest, most modern university to be built in the United States in the past 30 years: University of California, Merced.

The valley is loaded with a talented, hardworking labor force anxiously awaiting an opportunity to serve companies, the region and the nation. The valley is also the transportation link between northern and southern California. It boasts two major highways (Interstate 5, State Highway 99), two rail lines that stretch the length of the state, and a number of airports (including Fresno-Yosemite International and the Castle Aviation Development Center, formerly Castle Air Force Base), one with a runway almost 12,000 feet long, 300 feet wide and able to park approximately one hundred 747 aircrafts.

The Central Valley certainly represents a unique part of California, located close enough to the large, active ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles to participate in international trade, but far enough away to avoid the urban sprawl and congestion accompanying city growth.

The counties of the Central Valley have developed their economic strategies for the future, and premier among them is the creation of a relevant FTZ program. The zone project created serves regional economic development projects in seven California counties on the verge of dynamic economic growth: Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Tulare. The zone project mirrors the region's existing economic development strategy, which is cohesively regional in its marketing and promotion. Zone status is available to qualifying companies in the Central Valley area and gives those companies involved in the site selection process a wider variety of locations from which to choose.

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Photo of Yosemite Valley