Litton Industries, facing cutbacks in defense budgets, will transfer its Aero Products division to an existing Litton operation in Canoga Park this fall as scheduled but will close its 600-employee plant in Moorpark, where it is the city's second-largest employer.
Litton had planned to move its Data Systems operations, which employs 1,500 people in Agoura Hills and Van Nuys, to Moorpark. Instead, it will consolidate the Data Systems operations at its Agoura Hills facility.
"Economically, it's going to make a big dent in the city" for Litton to leave, Moorpark City Councilman Roy E. Talley said.
Litton spokesman Dirk Koerber said, however, that the decision is final.
"With the defense outlook the way it is," there is no sense for the company to spend millions of dollars building new facilities, such as the addition planned for Moorpark, he said.
Litton Industries announced last year that it would move its 600-employee Aero Products Division from Ventura County, but had planned to replace that group with an even larger work force at its Moorpark facility.
Officials at the giant defense firm have now told city officials, however, that they have decided to abandon their Moorpark plant instead of going forward with the previously planned expansion.
Litton has already begun moving employees of its Data Systems division, which manufactures command systems for the armed forces, to the Agoura Hills facility. All 1,500 employees at the firm's 24-acre Van Nuys plant will eventually be transferred, Koerber said. The 400,000-square-foot Van Nuys facility, which during the 1980s employed 2,500, will be sold, he said.
Litton will probably lease or sell the existing 140,000-square-foot Moorpark plant, where it has produced electronic aircraft systems since 1984, Koerber said.
The company's 600 employees currently working in Moorpark provide a steady source of revenues to restaurant owners, dry cleaners and other merchants in the city's struggling downtown business district, officials said. Besides the impact on merchants, the city will lose sales taxes.
"We're in love with this company and we're in love with the image of this company," said Ric Carrott, former owner of Egg City in Moorpark. "The community cannot be expected to sit back and accept the decision" lightly, he said.
But Moorpark Mayor Paul W. Lawrason Jr., who works at a Northridge-based aerospace and electronics firm, said he doubts a community protest could cause company officials to change their minds.
"I'm also in the corporate world," Lawrason said. "I can understand why they made a decision" to consolidate their operations.