***UPDATE: CNET is reporting that Google Barge will officially move to Stockton in the next week or so, though there has been no official comment from officials with the city or Port of Stockton. You can read the story here.
Just two weeks ago, officials from the tech giant Google came to Stockton to hold a workshop to help area small businesses create an online web presence. But if rumors are true, Google’s next foray into Stockton will be much, much larger.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced linking the much-discussed Google Barge project to Stockton. Tech website CNET reports that multiple sources have heard that Google has settled on Stockton as a location. However, Google has not made a final decision, and other Bay Area cities are lining up to woo the barge to their ports, but Stockton is in an advantageous position. The company has decided to relocate the barge from its current location at Treasure Island because of licensing issues required to complete construction, but moving the barge to Stockton would free the company of these restrictions as the city lies outside the jurisdiction of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). The city’s location gives it a clear advantage over other port cities such as Oakland, Vallejo, and Richmond, who have also expressed interest in the barge.
Should the rumors be true, it could provide a slight boost for the local economy, which would benefit from construction jobs associated with the project. However, expectations should be tempered. It’s unclear whether the project would bring any highly-coveted tech jobs to the city, which are proven to provide more economic benefits than manufacturing or construction jobs. Moreover, the barge would not dock permanently in Stockton as Google intends to use the barge as a product and Google X showroom, floating the barge to various cities on the West Coast.
Still, the move does provide opportunities for Stockton to capitalize aside from construction jobs. The move opens up a channel from the city to tech companies who have probably never considered Stockton. But with Google Barge in town, suddenly Stockton officials have an opportunity on their hands to showcase Stockton’s assets and potential to companies that could potentially invest in the city.
In the mean time, if Google decides to berth its barge in Stockton, it would not be downtown at the waterfront, but instead would reside at the port. The Port of Stockton is no stranger to large-scale projects. In the 1950s, the port churned out Mine Sweeper Ocean (MSO) vessels for the Navy, and more recently, several spans of the new Bay Bridge were built there as well.