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Morton gave thought to staying local

A shorter commute and larger labor pool led to move to Antelope Valley

Posted: June 23, 2012 2:55 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2012 2:55 a.m.

Morton Manufacturing seriously considered remaining in the Santa Clarita Valley, but in the end the opportunity afforded it in the city of Lancaster benefited the needs of the company and its employees more, a company official said.

"We looked long and hard in Santa Clarita but didn't find a viable site," said Jim Vail, CFO, "We couldn't find a building or building site that would suit our needs."

Thursday, the company announced it was relocating to the Antelope Valley, moving 200 jobs out of the Santa Clarita Valley. Morton has operated in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1967.

The company needed a larger space to increase production capacity, Vail said. It wanted to move from its Canyon Country location to the west side of town, but a move to the Valencia Industrial Center would add too much drive time for employees who commuted daily from the Antelope Valley. Some 40 percent of the company's workforce lives in that region, company officials said.

The company is also hoping to find a larger available labor pool in the Antelope Valley to recruit from as it expands.

The aerospace manufacturer produces fasteners for the aviation side of the industry more than the military and space side, Vail said. As a result, the company's production cycles have been much less volatile - and, in fact, it needs a larger space to expand its production capacity. The company had no layoffs during the recession, he said.

The SCV has seen strong demand for large industrial buildings, said Jonas Peterson, president and CEO with the SCV Economic Development Corp.

"This is generally a positive indicator but does limit the options for a few of the employers, like Morton, who are looking for a specific type of building," Peterson said.

It's very rare that businesses leave the Santa Clarita Valley, he said. The area offers a high-quality operating environment with competitive pricing for the vast majority of local industries, he said.

Morton is a good company that has seen strong growth in the Santa Clarita Valley for years, Peterson said. The SCVEDC wishes them continued success and is glad that the company can stay within the larger region, he said.

"We're not moving out of Santa Clarita so much as we're moving into Lancaster," Vail said. "We have a lot of friends in Santa Clarita."





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