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Texas lawmakers tour Sriracha plant in bid for relocation

Carlos UrestiRick Perry
Texas officials tour Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale in attempt to lure business
Texas officials' tour of Sriracha plant comes during battle over factory's spicy smell

A delegation of Texas lawmakers and officials toured the Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale on Monday in another attempt to lure the beleaguered business from California.

Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba, state Sen. Carlos Uresti, state Rep. Hubert Vo and a group of Texas officials visited the plant and had lunch with Huy Fong Foods Chief Executive David Tran.

The meeting came weeks after Tran, whose plant has been locked in a months-long battle with Irwindale over a spicy smell, invited all potential suitors to tour the plant. 

Villalba, who can be seen sporting a Sriracha pocket square on his Twitter account, was one of the first to accept. 

“For many years now, Texas has demonstrated it is the premiere state for economic development, expansion, and relocation,” Villalba said in a news release.

The Texas overture comes weeks after Toyota announced it would move its headquarters and thousands of jobs from Torrance to the Lone Star State. Luring businesses from California has become a popular thing to say in Texas stump speeches, a tradition initiated by Gov. Rick Perry's 2013 "hunting trip" to California.

Huy Fong Foods flew a Texas flag next to the California, U.S. and Huy Fong Foods flags in front of the factory Monday. But any talks of Huy Fong Foods' relocation are premature, Texas officials said.

"It was more planting the seeds, no pun intended," Uresti told assembled media of the meeting. "We weren't given any authority, and we didn't offer any specific incentives."

Tran reiterated his desire to stay in Irwindale.

"David would like to stay in Irwindale, but it's dependent on Irwindale,"  executive operations officer Donna Lam told The Times. "Expansion might be a real possibility in the future when we maximize our capacity here."

Moving the business would be difficult. Sriracha has expanded in conjunction with local vinegar producers and pepper growers, and those parts of the operation couldn't move with the sauce maker.

But Tran remains open to the idea of expansion in another location, and he has no shortage of choices. Officials from 10 states and various municipalities across California have offered them a berth.

The city of Irwindale will take up the issue of Sriracha's spicy smell again on Wednesday. For a third time, Irwindale officials are expected to delay a decision about whether the smell is a public nuisance to a later council meeting, according to the agenda.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Carlos UrestiRick Perry
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