LOS ANGELES (AP) — Toyota delivered a surprise pink slip to California on Monday, announcing the company would move its U.S. headquarters and about 3,000 jobs from the Los Angeles suburbs to the outskirts of Dallas.
The world's largest automaker will keep a foothold in the Golden State - about 2,300 jobs will remain in California after the company settles into its new corporate campus in Plano, Texas. But the announcement is an economic and symbolic slap for California, a historic center of American car culture that has been trying to shake its reputation as a frustrating place to run a business, whether that involves shooting a film or selling a Prius.
"When you look at the whole package, it's difficult to be a business here," lamented Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto, whose community on the edge of the Pacific will suffer as the jobs migrate to Texas.
"If all these great, high-end jobs are leaving California, then we are going to turn into a place that's a retirement community" with low-paying service-sector jobs, Scotto said. "We can't have that," he added, warning that unless the state has a change of attitude, "it's going to be way too late."
Toyota's announcement comes about two months after Occidental Petroleum Corp. disclosed it was moving its headquarters to Houston from Los Angeles. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been on a publicity campaign to promote his state as a haven for businesses seeking lower taxes and eased government regulation, but Toyota didn't mention what, if any, role Perry played in the company's decision.
Perry, who made two visits to California to lure employers to his state, said Texas offered Toyota $40 million in incentives from the taxpayer-funded Texas Enterprise Fund. The Republican governor said Toyota is expected to invest $300 million in the new headquarters.
Republicans in California quickly blamed Sacramento for the loss, where Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature and every statewide office. A statement issued by Gov. Jerry Brown's Office of Business and Economic Development did not mention Toyota but stressed the state's steadied balance sheet and jobs recovered after the devastating recession.
"Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan continue to invest in California, and the Golden State remains the center of new electric, zero-emission and self-driving vehicle manufacturing and technology," the statement said.
Toyota will break ground this year on its new environmentally friendly headquarters in Plano, about 25 miles north of Dallas. Small groups of employees will start moving to temporary office space there this year, but most won't move until late 2016 or early 2017 when the new headquarters is completed.
The new campus will bring together about 4,000 employees from sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and finance.
Toyota also plans to expand its technical center near Ann Arbor, Mich., and move about 250 parts procurement positions there from Georgetown, Ky., where the Camry and Avalon sedans are made. That will free up space for approximately 300 production engineers to move from Erlanger, Ky., to Georgetown. Toyota will have 8,200 employees in Kentucky after the moves are complete.
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