Mass Exodus of Simi Jobs

Approximately 1200 jobs are leaving Simi Valley and going to the recently vacated 21st Century Insurance building in Woodland Hills (vacated by 21st Century when parent company AIG terminated all operations at that facility). The following is a snippet from their press release.

The company announced that it will move approximately 1,200 people, or 20 percent of its Greater Los Angeles workforce, from building space it leases at 3041 Cochran Street in Simi Valley to another leased facility at 6303 Owensmouth in Woodland Hills. The Woodland Hills facility is already home to some Farmers employees and the building currently is branded 21st Century Insurance Company, but the name on the building will be changed to Farmers Insurance. (21st Century Insurance Company was acquired by Farmers Insurance in July 2009).

The move of the 1,200 employees will take place beginning in early 2011. Farmers Insurance has more than 6,000 employees and agents in the Greater Los Angeles area, making Farmers Insurance one of the largest employers in Southern California.

While this may be a good move for Farmers Insurance who will enjoy the benefits of a more modern building, this is terrible for Simi Valley. Not only are 1200 jobs vacating, but surrounding businesses will be impacted as well. This will impact restaurants in the immediate area, the shopping center across the street, not to mention local hotel occupancy.

What happened, and didn’t anyone see this coming? Farmers Insurance has occupied the large building on Cochran Street since 1982. With a move of this magnitude, was there no discussion between Farmers and the City of Simi Valley? This will surely impact our local economy in a number of ways and I hope this becomes a top issue in the upcoming election.

UPDATE: After more careful thought and consideration, I’ve posted a follow-up on this topic. Please click here to read it.

Candidate Sojka’s Economy Bolstering Programs Approved

Sojka delivers Business Advocate, Business Roundtable for City

Pro-business ‘Vision’ adopted by City Council as part of 2010-11 balanced budget

SIMI VALLEY – Simi Valley City Councilman Steve Sojka announces approval of two of his proposals to bolster the local economy in Simi Valley. The addition of a Business Advocate and Business Roundtable for the City of Simi Valley were included as part of the Council’s approval of the fiscal 2010-11 Budget on June 21.

“Even though I can say we are more business friendly than we were 12 years ago, we are not where we need to be,” said Sojka, the leading candidate for Mayor of Simi Valley in the November election. “This is a step toward where we need to be.

“It comes down to streamlining the process, which creates jobs, and more jobs creates a better local economy, which creates a better City budget.”

The Council on Monday approved, as part of the budget for the Community Development Agency, a Business Advocate. This senior management analyst position would focus purely on assisting any business existing or planning to open in Simi Valley with any necessary action such as proposed improvements, relocating here, or application processes.

The Council also concurred on Steve Sojka’s proposal to form a Business Roundtable to bring together businesses that already have gone through City processes, along with City administrators, management and even the City Attorney’s office if necessary to discuss processes and the needs of Simi Valley businesses small, medium or large.

“In tough budget times, it is good to have a vision,” Sojka said, “and that vision is to support, supply, promote and create jobs. With these actions, the City has greatly enhanced its connection to, and liaison with, the local business community,” Sojka said.

The Business Advocate position becomes effective July 1. The Business Roundtable will return to the Council for further discussion in coming weeks.

“I think it’s awesome. Anything the City can do to help a business get through the red tape is a great thing,” said Darrell Coletto, owner of the First Auto Group, a prominent auto dealership in Simi Valley. “The sooner we can help businesses grow and expand, and hire employees, and increase the City’s sales tax revenue and boost the local economy, the better.

“If we can get that done, then these are great ideas,” he said.

Coletto applauded the proactive pro-business actions by Sojka, who currently serves as Chairman of the City’s Small Business Advisory Committee which is responsible for the Shop Simi Valley First campaign.

Steve Sojka is a three-term Simi Valley City Council member, starting in 1998, who twice served one-year shifts as Mayor Pro Tem. A lifetime resident of Simi Valley, he has been a business owner and active community volunteer and leader in Simi Valley for the past 25 years. His father Bob Sojka was Chief of the Simi Valley Police Department; and today Steve Sojka proudly serves on the Board of Directors for the Simi Valley Police Foundation. Sojka and his wife Laura have three children in Simi Valley schools.

Steve Sojka is endorsed for Simi Valley Mayor by current Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller; Council members Glen Becerra, Michelle Foster and Barbra Williamson; former Mayors Bill Davis, Ginger Gherardi and Ted Grandsen; former City Council member and County Supervisor Vicky Howard; former City Council members Nancy Bender, Dave Reese and Howard Rogo; Simi Valley Board of Education President Jeanne Davis and Trustees Janice DiFatta and Eric Lundstrom; former Simi Valley School Board members Carla Kurachi, Judy Barry and Steven Gould; Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board members Gene Hostetler, Mark Johnson and Dee Dee Cavanaugh and former Park District Board member Jim Meredith; Simi Valley Planning Commissioners Mike McGuigan, Tim Shannon and Jim Dantona, Jr.; and former Commissioners Rick Kunz and Bob Swoish.

Sojka also is endorsed by dozens of other leaders from community organizations representing police, education, business and youth sports and services interests. For a complete listing visit www.sojkaformayor.com.

Jobs Leaving Simi Valley

I haven’t been actively posting lately due to some job related stress.  The economic crunch has struck and the place where I work felt the squeeze with a round of layoffs.  The result has been stress and a whole lot more work to do.  Simi Valley workers will be affected as well.  This is from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal:

Farmers Insurance is transferring customer service jobs from its Simi Valley office to new facilities in three states.

The company has set an April 10 deadline for when up to 82 employees must decide to relocate to Austin, Olathe, KS, or Hillsboro, Ore. In total, 120 employees were notified back in October the jobs were moving and some have already gone to the new facilities

Those employees choosing not to leave California will receive a severance package, a company spokesman said.

On one hand, I want to be critical of Farmers for uprooting lives to save money, but I can’t.  Everyone is just starting to feel it and there’s likely more to come.  I worry about large employers in town relocating… the impact it will have on our local economy and real estate.

Farmers is one of the largest employers in Simi Valley, with more than 1,100 workers remaining in the office there. Farmers also has its primary claims facility in Westlake Village and a training office in Agoura Hills.

I still have a handful of projects in the works that I’m hoping will do a small part to connect employers with job seekers.