The Antonoviches also brought Lancaster officials to China in 2010, where they toured BYD's headquarters in Shenzhen and even test-drove its electric vehicles. Antonovich also backed BYD on its bids for contracts with Long Beach and the MTA; in June, the MTA board, including Antonovich, awarded the contract to the Chinese company as part of a $30-million clean air pilot program.
The supervisor, whose district includes Lancaster, said he hoped the BYD factory would become a linchpin for other foreign investors interested in the Antelope Valley.
His interest is not exclusive to Lancaster; he also pushed for another recently announced project, a light-rail manufacturing facility that Japanese firm Kinkisharyo International is bringing to neighboring Palmdale.
He said he first met BYD executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2008 and brokered the meeting with Parris shortly after.
"It was a fierce competition between Los Angeles city and Lancaster," Antonovich said. Los Angeles got the company's U.S. headquarters, but the factory, and most of the jobs, went to Lancaster.
Christopher Tang, a business professor at UCLA, said Parris may succeed to a certain extent.
"The Chinese will not have heard of Lancaster, but they can position it as just north of L.A.," he said. "The cost of setting up a factory in L.A. or San Francisco or San Jose is getting very expensive. If you can give some concessions to build a factory, that would be attractive."
Staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.