A little more than a year after threatening to move to a more business-friendly state, Rancho Cordova’s Vision Service Plan is undertaking a major expansion in the Sacramento area.
VSP said Wednesday it plans to hire 200 to 250 manufacturing employees this fall to work in a new lens-grinding facility in Folsom.
VSP already employs 380 workers in its lens-grinding operations, scattered among several buildings at the company’s Rancho Cordova headquarters complex. Those employees will move to the new facility, where they’ll be joined by the 200 to 250 new hires, said VSP spokeswoman Jill Novelo.
“It will help make it more of a streamlined facility and enable us to increase production capacity,” she said. The company spent $6 million buying a building on Folsom’s Blue Ravine Road to house the new facility; it’s expected to open in November.
With the new hires, the company will employ nearly 2,500 in the Sacramento area.
The announcement fulfills a pledge made almost 15 months ago by VSP Chief Executive Rob Lynch after the company ended its dispute with the state agency implementing a key portion of the federal Affordable Care Act. The agency was about to finalize a policy that would have effectively locked VSP out of a big piece of the online insurance market being set up by the state.
While the dispute raged, Lynch said in an opinion article in the Sacramento Business Journal that “we have been heavily solicited to relocate out of state with incentives and subsidies. Maybe it’s time for us to choose to go where we are wanted.” A slew of business leaders and elected officials urged the state to reverse course.
Lynch later said he was talking about future expansion and wasn’t planning to move VSP out of California. Shortly after state officials backed down, Lynch said VSP would hire hundreds of workers in the region.
While VSP is mainly known as an insurer, the company’s lens-grinding division, known as VSP Optics Group, is one of several subsidiaries. “It’s a growing part of the business,” Novelo said.
The company also has a software division and a eyewear frame manufacturer.
The lens-grinding facility is a laboratory-like setting, and the work is considered light manufacturing. The workers belong to Teamsters Local 150 in Sacramento. They earn an average of about $15 an hour plus fringe benefits.
Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.