As Aircraft Factories Shutter, Space Remains Bedrock Industry in Southern California

Article excerpt

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--The C-17 factory in Long Beach remains the last remaining conventional airplane plant in Southern California, and the Globe-master's days are probably numbered. Boeing announced plans to lay off 900 workers there in January.

Aerospace employed some 160,000 workers in the region in 1990, but that is down to about 47,000 in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The space industry, meanwhile, seems to he more firmly entrenched in the area, executives said. The demand for space services, and the complex manufacturing facilities required to build satellites, aren't going anywhere soon, they said.

Other states such as Arizona may have friendlier tax codes, or lower cost of living for employees, but one can't easily pack up a satellite manufacturing facility and move it to friendlier states, said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing space and intelligence systems.

"What really built Southern California was the aerospace industry," he said. The state would benefit from an understanding of why so many companies have left, he added. He did not want to elaborate, but taxes and regulations have been the oft-mentioned reasons for the exodus.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a wave of space industry consolidations. Both the Raytheon and Boeing facilities in El Segundo were once part of Hughes. Northrop Grumman merged with TRW in 2002, and took over its facility in Redondo Beach.

Hughes Communications Inc. carried on the famous industrialist's name as an Internet satellite services provider for more than a decade after relinquishing its satellite manufacturing business to Boeing about the same time. …


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