Holly Schroeder: At last – Newhall Ranch

Proposed site of Newhall Ranch development, looking southeast state Route 126 in Castaic. Dan Watson/The Signal.

After almost 30 years of planning and a dozen years of litigation, it appears that Newhall Ranch is finally ready for construction. As someone who works and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley, this news makes me tremendously excited both professionally and personally.

It’s probably clear why I am so excited about Newhall Ranch professionally. As president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, it’s my job to attract more jobs here in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Newhall Ranch will create tremendous economic development opportunities for the region and the entire state of California. That’s good news for everyone.

The SCV is already home to major corporations such as Princess Cruises, Sunkist, Advanced Bionics and Scorpion. The “sleepy suburb” of years past is gone, replaced by a vibrant and growing business sector, where 70 percent of the jobs added last year were in high-wage sectors.

New commercial and industrial development is currently under way in projects like IAC Commerce Center, Southern California Innovation Park and Needham Ranch, providing high-quality jobs in diverse industries such as biotech, aerospace, health care and manufacturing.

I expect these projects and their associated job growth to accelerate as Newhall Ranch takes shape, which will add nearly 74,000 permanent new jobs.

Beyond new permanent jobs, Newhall Ranch will create another 130,000 jobs in the construction industry. These are jobs for engineers, construction trades, designers, landscapers and more. While economists call these jobs “temporary,” they will provide stable and consistent employment for a tremendous number of men and women, growing our economy even more.

Newhall Ranch will also help alleviate the urgent housing crisis stifling L.A. County’s economy. According to the Southern California Association of Governments, new home construction in the last decade is 38 percent lower than the previous decade and 50 percent lower than the decade between 1975-85.

Newhall Ranch will combat this challenge by providing abundant new housing, including apartments and starter homes for new families as well as executive housing and affordable units. As a result, an entire generation that grew up here in Southern California will have a better chance of staying here to work and raise their families.

So those are some of the reasons I’m excited professionally for Newhall Ranch. Why am I so enthusiastic personally? For one reason, I’m a bit of a technophile, amazed by the way that advances in technology can improve our lives and our world. Technological innovations play a central role in the Net Zero Newhall initiative, which enables Newhall Ranch to create no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of global climate change.

As a large new community built from the ground up, Newhall Ranch can embrace and integrate the latest sustainable innovations at a fraction of the cost of retrofitting a city.

As a result, we are poised to leap ahead of other communities in reaping the benefits of new advances – whether autonomous vehicles that reduce traffic and improve safety; clean energy vehicles and solar panels that reduce air pollution and smog; or a “connected community” that manages resources much more efficiently. Thanks to Net Zero Newhall, we can be leaders as these breakthroughs emerge.

My hope is that Newhall Ranch will be home not only to the consumers of these promising new technologies, but also to the companies that develop them due to the sheer scale of the business opportunity Newhall Ranch provides.

It will all contribute to a remarkable new community that sets a new standard for development and enriches our entire region. I’m betting we will soon look back and wonder why it all took so long.

Holly Schroeder is president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

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