June 1st, 2014
On the morning of Monday April 28, residents of the South Bay woke up to news reports that Toyota Motors had decided to move out of Torrance. Milton Herring, retired Army lieutenant colonel, long-time Torrance resident and candidate for Torrance City Council, like most of us, was surprised and dismayed at the news.
However, Herring was very disappointed to hear Mayor Frank Scotto say that the city staff were surprised. Herring cites Jonathan Kaji, who serves on the California Economic Development Commission, who said in an e-mail to the Daily Breeze, “the city staff was fully aware of ongoing recruitment and outreach efforts,” Kaji stated. “I believe that due to complacency, arrogance, laziness and the belief that Toyota Motor Sales was ‘too big to leave,’ the city staff failed to launch a coordinated effort to retain Toyota.” see the Daily Breeze article here
According to Toyota, approximately 3000 jobs from Sales and Marketing and from Financial Services will relocate to Plano, Texas by 2017, leaving mostly vacant approximately 2 million square feet of office space on the 3000-plus acres of its current campus just off the 405. click here for the Daily Breeze article
While candidate Herring acknowledges state leaders have not been as supportive as they could have been in recent years, in dealing with Toyota, he also sees evidence in the Toyota move that Torrance city leaders were asleep at the wheel as well.
Losing Toyota to Texas is a major blow to the city of Torrance, but now the question is, what will the city do moving forward? Mayor Scotto reported that two other companies had expressed interest in the Toyota site, which could recoup the lost jobs. Daily Breeze article with Mayor Scotto's quote. However, the question remains not only how to prevent these types of decisions for other companies, but also how to reverse the trend and attract new business to the city.
Mr. Herring believes that in order to attract and retain business in Torrance there must be a greater collaboration between Sacramento and city leaders as they look towards future. Milton Herring agrees with County Supervisor Don Knabe's belief that Californians "need to come together, quickly and aggressively, and work across state, county and city borders to improve the business climate.” (Supervisor Knabe's Toyota Statement)
Says candidate Herring, “I think that Toyota is leaving for the same reasons Nissan left in 2006.” He cites statements by Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn when he announced the decision to move the company’s headquarters out of California, "The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee.” Read Carlos Ghosn 2005 quote here
Herring points out that just as Tennessee offered incentives to Nissan for its move in 2006, Texas is offering incentives to Toyota to relocate, in addition to the fact that Texas has no individual income tax, making it a challenge for Torrance to remain competitive as a home to business.
Says Herring, “I am proposing that Torrance, in cooperation with the city’s Office of Economic Development, establish 'Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs).’ These would serve as tech centers, Silicon Valley-like enterprise zones to attract and retain our tech savvy youth by providing incentives for start-up businesses.” Herring continues, “They [the tech centers] would also establish working relationships with schools like SoCal Regional Occupational Center and El Camino College.”
Herring believes that Torrance’s future job growth will be from the tech and space sectors and therefore “we must make plans for pursuing these kinds of businesses.”
Herring has been endorsed in his candidacy for Torrance City Council by former Torrance police chief James Herren, former Torrance city councilwomen Maureen O’Donnell and Marcia Cribbs, and the Daily Breeze.
On June 3rd, electing a pro-active and visionary leader like retired Lieutenant Colonel Milton Herring to the Torrance City Council could go a long way toward jump-starting that desperately needed job growth in the city.
Dotti Martin is a life long Southbay resident and tirelessly volunteers to help improve our community