Calling it a step in the right direction, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan on Thursday praised a Panorama City-based maker of wheelchair lifts for expanding and adding jobs in the northeast San Fernando Valley, an area with a stubbornly high unemployment rate.
As part of his regular business outreach program, Riordan toured the 200,000-square-foot production facility of the Ricon Corp. In February, Ricon became the first major industrial tenant to relocate to The Plant, the 73-acre retail-industrial complex located on the site of the former General Motors facility.
Since moving from its former headquarters in Pacoima, the privately held company, which has about $90 million in annual revenue, has added 50 jobs, including designers, draftsmen and engineers. President Andrew J. Loduha Jr. said Thursday he plans to add another 50 by year's end.
Asked about the effect of 50 jobs on the area's overall unemployment picture, Riordan said: "It's one step at a time. The demand for manufacturing space in the northeast Valley is very high today. You're going to see more and more manufacturing jobs coming to the northeast Valley."
Ricon, which also makes bus ramps and converts commercial vans for use by the disabled, was wooed by communities outside the Valley, including Valencia, Loduha said. But the mayor's business team persuaded them to stay.
For locating in the area, which is part of a state enterprise zone, the company receives state sales-tax credits for machinery purchased for production, which this year will net the company about $200,000. It also receives employment tax credits--an estimated $140,000 this year.