Job Front: New plant opening today brightens West Sacramento's jobs picture

Published: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013 - 8:33 am

West Sacramento has struggled with double-digit unemployment, weathered the regional construction slump of recent years and absorbed the departure earlier this year of companies such as data storage firm Xyratex.

But recent housing projects in the works along the city's riverfront and the new, relocated and expanded businesses show that jobs are returning to the city.

Today, Nippon Shokken's new Japanese food seasoning plant opens in West Sacramento.

Near downtown, the Capitol Yards housing development in the city's Raley's Landing neighborhood is expected to create up to 200 jobs during the 14-month, $50 million project.

It joins the Bridge District Townhomes and Apartments and the Rivermark affordable housing project, which is under construction, also in the nearby Bridge District.

"These are all really positive developments for the city," said Diane Richards, West Sacramento's economic development director. "There's obviously been some downsizing in the city, but this is a really positive balancing for our labor force."

West Sacramento's jobless rate remains Yolo County's highest at 13.5 percent, according to the state's Employment Development Department, well above the county's 8.7 percent unemployment rate.

But in recent months, West Sacramento has seen Bayer Cropscience relocate to the city from Davis and the planned expansion of Norway-based conglomerate TOMRA Sorting, which signed a long-term deal at the Riverside Commerce Center near Interstate 80.

With its expansion, TOMRA expects to add about 25 workers to the current 45.

Bayer officials in July said the firm has the capacity to employ 300 workers at the 164,000- square-foot West Sacramento site. Richards said Bayer Cropscience plans to move into the old Affymetrix site at 890 Embarcadero Drive at year's end.

Nippon Shokkon's first U.S. production facility in Southport Business Park means another 400 jobs, city officials say.

So far, Nippon is hiring for its production line and quality control along with other shift workers and administrative staff, said Steve Roberts, an employment services specialist at the Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services, who is helping to coordinate Nippon Shokkon's local hiring effort.

Other positions, Roberts said, will be filled over time.

But, he said, the recent activity in the city is reason for optimism.

"It makes our work so much more enjoyable now, because there are jobs for people who will fill them," Roberts said.

Ask the expert

Job-hunting questions?

Terri Carpenter, spokeswoman with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, will answer your questions at www.sacbee.com/personalfinanceblog.

Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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