Toyota withdrawal a bombshell, economic blow to California city
Toyota Motor Corp’s decision to move its North American sales headquarters from California to Texas was met by disbelief in Torrance, this Los Angeles exurb where the Japanese car manufacturer has run its U.S. operations since 1982.
Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto, looking grim, said outside city hall on Monday that he had been blindsided by the move. A few feet away sat Pat Simpson, a Torrance resident for over 60 years, with her head in her hands. “Why do they want to tear this place apart?” Simpson, 72, asked.
Scotto said his first inkling of Toyota’s decision to move to Plano, Texas, came last Thursday, when he was told by Toyota to expect a phone call at 9.45 a.m. on Monday - just before the company was to make its decision official.
“At first I thought it was about something else,” Scotto said. “Even this morning, despite all the rumors this weekend, we thought it was only going to be part of Toyota moving - not just everything.” The decision, he said, was “sad news”.
The two biggest employers in Torrance, which has a population of 147,000 according to city figures, are Toyota and Honda. Both have about 4,000 employees. Losing Toyota will mean an annual loss of $1.2 million in tax revenue, Scotto said, but the emotional toll and wider economic impact will be much bigger, he said.
he also said it takes the state of California, not a small city such as Torrance, to stop large manufacturers from leaving the Golden State.