The Greater Sacramento Economic Council on Friday called on the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent other states from poaching California companies and jobs.
Members of the council’s board joined Executive Director Barry Broome in a brief news conference outside Wells Fargo Bank at 400 Capitol Mall. Congressman Ami Bera also attended the gathering, which was called in response to this week’s announcement that Aerojet Rocketdyne would relocate or eliminate about 1,100 of its 1,400 jobs in Rancho Cordova and shut down manufacturing operations in the city by 2019.
Broome chastised the state for not doing enough to keep jobs in California and said the economic council was committed to a “new beginning to make jobs a priority.” He said the state “lacks compassion” when it comes to widespread job losses. Council officials cited Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Washington and Alabama as having more sophisticated statewide economic development programs.
Broome said such a program developed in California would “help communities like ours build a more advanced economy.”
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Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, agreed and added: “This isn’t a handout to business. This is about creating jobs.” The congressman said he was “disappointed that we are losing these high-skilled jobs.”
Broome cited the example of the state of Washington twice working to keep Boeing operations from moving over the past 14 years, an effort that brought billions of dollars in spending and taxes to Washington over that time.
Brook Taylor, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, noted that a special GO-Biz committee on Thursday approved $91.4 million in tax credits for 114 companies. In an emailed statement, Taylor said “GO-Biz has a long-standing relationship with Aerojet and worked with them over the last couple years with regards to their facility in Rancho Cordova.
“We were upset to see them decide to shift jobs elsewhere, and we are now focusing our efforts on the employees. We are working with the executives at Aerojet to mitigate further job losses, transition existing employees to new jobs and identify creative ways to repurpose their properties.”
Taylor said the state is “focused on growing our overall economy, workforce development for the next generation of employees, helping launch our entrepreneurs and assisting existing companies (to) expand. As a result, California has led the nation in job growth the last three years running. The state is home to 20 percent of the U.S. headquarters, which is by far the most in the U.S. It’s the No. 1 state for manufacturing, biotech, logistics, film and many other categories.”
On Monday, Aerojet announced that it would consolidate local manufacturing jobs in a new plant in Huntsville, Ala. The company said defense-related program management, engineering and related support positions in Sacramento will be moved to Huntsville by the end of 2018. The majority of the remaining local programs and support positions will be relocated to the company’s space headquarters in Los Angeles.
The 300 employees who will remain in Rancho Cordova will work in finance, legal, personnel and other support functions.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake said the company is two years into a consolidation aimed at creating annual costs savings of $145 million when completed in 2019.
The job cuts will close out a major chapter of Aerojet’s long history in the Sacramento area.
Aerojet’s Rancho Cordova rocket engine-building operations date back to 1951. At its peak in 1963, amid the space race, Aerojet employed nearly 20,000 locally.