Torrance is losing almost 100 high-tech manufacturing jobs as defense contractor Chemring winds down operations at its local plant and moves the jobs to Illinois in an effort both to cut costs and for logistical reasons.
One longtime Torrance defense contractor is shedding almost 100 jobs, while a SpaceX spin-off that could create up to 300 jobs within three years is in talks to move to the South Bay’s largest city, company and municipal officials have confirmed.
Chemring Energetic Devices, which makes missile components, radar detection systems and other defense-related products, has notified the state Employment Development Department as required by law of its plans to lay off 93 of its workers at its Lomita Boulevard plant as manufacturing winds down there by mid-2018.
“The decision to do so was driven by the need to remain competitive in the marketplace, and the significant savings that could be realized by operating out of one site, rather than two,” Pittman said via email. “At the time the announcement was made in August 2015, there were around 110 employees at Torrance. A number of people were offered relocation packages to move to the Downers Grove site, but only a few were willing to make that move.”
The Illinois location also had the capability to handle and store twice as much explosive material as the Torrance plant did because of federal regulations and its close proximity to residential homes, he said.
A clean-up crew will remain at the site until the lease expires in December 2018.
Fran Fulton, Torrance’s economic development manager, said officials knew about the 2015 plant closure announcement and worked to retain the company, but were unsuccessful.
However, in a move demonstrating the cyclical nature of the aerospace industry, Fulton said a SpaceX startup she could not name was in discussions to move to Torrance and hire as many as 200 employees within three years. SpaceX is expanding rapidly at its home base in nearby Hawthorne.
Torrance is benefiting from a tighter commercial office market and higher lease costs in cities like El Segundo
“We’re hearing from companies that are looking at El Segundo and they’re not liking the price,” Fulton said. “We’re still a little bit cheaper down here.”
Indeed, a trio of small aerospace companies— including Microcosm Inc., and Scorpius Space Launch Co. — recently relocated to Torrance from Hawthorne, bringing about 25 jobs, Fulton said. They were displaced from a building soon to be occupied by the headquarters of Urth Caffe, which is relocating from smaller quarters in downtown Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, acres of new commercial space is set to open up in Torrance, as Toyota and its thousands of employees begin heading to its new North American headquarters in Texas from its sprawling local campus.
Negotiations with a real estate developer expected to buy the entire 2 million square feet of office space spread across 110 acres are ongoing, Fulton said.
“They’re going to develop a plan for the entire campus to redevelop it,” she said. “It’s not going to be (bought by) one big company.Discover More