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Morton heading to Lancaster

Longtime local manufacturer relocating, bringing more than 200 jobs to Antelope Valley

Posted: June 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

A longtime Santa Clarita manufacturer announced Thursday that it’s relocating to Lancaster, taking 200 jobs with it.

Morton Manufacturing, founded in 1967, manufactures fasteners for the aerospace industry. The company plans to add more than 100 new positions in the Antelope Valley, after it relocates its corporate headquarters.

The firm began seeking a new location in 2011, when orders started to outstrip the production capacity of its current facility. Lancaster became a leading contender for the company’s new headquarters because 40 percent of its employees live in the Antelope Valley.

Morton’s client list includes industry giants like Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.

“Our search for the right location to construct our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility led us to the city of Lancaster, and we are glad it did,” Yolanda Morton, chairman and CEO, said in a news release. “We are happy that a local business that had been here 40 years was so successful they needed to expand, but we are very disappointed that they have to move to the Antelope Valley since there is not enough available space here for them to expand into,” said Jason Crawford, economic development manager with the city of Santa Clarita.

Vacancy rates for industrial space in the Santa Clarita Valley have been very low, making it difficult for companies to relocate or expand locally. The SCV Economic Development Corp.’s latest economic report showed vacancy rates in March were 3.7 percent.

Morton cited a lack of space for which to expand to as a contributing factor for moving, said Stacie House, marketing and business retention manager with the SCV Economic Development Corp.

While it’s good to have low industrial vacancies, it proves an obstacle for companies that want to expand, House said.

Santa Clarita has been working with Morton Manufacturing and the company has benefited from the region’s Enterprise Zone, Crawford said. The Antelope Valley’s Enterprise Zone expired in January of this year.

Two months ago, Jason Caudle, deputy city manager with the city of Lancaster, said the loss of the Enterprise Zone status had a greater impact than the loss of redevelopment agencies.

Lancaster is subdividing a 21-acre parcel in the Lancaster Business Park and plans to install the necessary infrastructure to support Morton’s needs, the city announced. Morton Manufacturing will occupy a 10.06 acre parcel in the park.

The city worked with CB Richard Ellis who advised Lancaster to prepare sites for development to accommodate the needs of companies considering the region for relocation purposes. The city also worked with a third-party developer, said Mayor R. Rex Parris.

The type of base manufacturing jobs Morton Manufacturing provides are highly sought after by local governments because they are considered “wealth inducing,” said Mark Bozigian, city manager for Lancaster. Manufacturing jobs not only generate revenue when employees work and live locally, cities also benefit from the sale of the manufacturer’s products.

“These new jobs will make great strides in stimulating our local economy,” Bozigian said.

Relocating to Lancaster is going to require up to two years said local sources but the information could not be confirmed with Morton Manufacturing.

“We really wish there was a space here they could expand into and hope it can still be salvaged during the couple-year time frame of the proposed move,” Crawford said.

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