A South Korean company – Simwon America Corp. – has selected Lathrop as the location for its first manufacturing plant in the United States.
The auto parts manufacturer is locating in the old Medline Distribution Center on D’Arcy Parkway right in the heart of Lathrop’s commercial and light industrial hub right behind the Tesla Facility.
While details about the corporation – which only filed its paperwork with the California Secretary of State last year – are scare, speculation points to their operation potentially supplying Tesla with parts which would make it the first supporting business that has located to the area to support the electric car and battery manufacturer that came to Lathrop in 2014.
According to Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore, the company could potentially employ up to 100 people through a variety of phases of construction and implementation of equipment suited for making car parts.
The announcement reinforces the city’s position as a viable alternative for Bay Area companies that are looking to expand manufacturing operations but don’t way to pay exorbitant prices for land in an area that caters almost specifically to white collar workers.
“We have us and Manteca and Tracy that are kind of the gateways to the Bay Area, and it’s a lot more cost-effective to locate here in terms of land value and the fees associated with coming in,” Salvatore said. “And while the workforce that they’re looking for isn’t as robust in the Bay Area, we have people here that can do those types of jobs.”
While it may have seemed far-fetched to position Lathrop and other communities in the South County as an alternative to Bay Area operations for some of the country’s most recognizable companies, Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal says that the Simwon announcement reinforces the position of the council to try and attract jobs that will prevent local residents from having to drive over the Altamont to find work suitable for sustaining a family.
Negotiations have been ongoing with the company for months. Dhaliwal said the announcement just shows the viability of Lathrop and the South County when it comes to light industrial manufacturing and distribution jobs that are driving the local economy.
“This is very good news for us,” Dhaliwal said. “We promised our citizens that we would continue to create jobs that people would normally have to drive to the Bay Area for so that they can spend more time with their families. This reaffirms that promise.”
The fact that a company potentially manufacturing parts for a company like Tesla that is normally associated with Silicon Valley has located to the community, he said, sends a very clear message that Lathrop is an alternative when looking for expansion or even relocation.
“It definitely sends a message to Bay Area companies that we are a better and cheaper alternative to what they have around them,” Dhaliwal said. “Bay Area rents are skyrocketing, and companies are starting to look elsewhere.
“That’s how we got Tesla to come here – they were looking for room and we have room for them. The city right now is doing well and is on stable ground economically and we have a relatively low crime rate and those are big parts of what attracts interest in Lathrop.”
Currently there are multiple concrete tilt-up buildings in the works for Lathrop, including one that will measure in the neighborhood of a million square feet – the types of buildings suited for manufacturing, distribution and light-industrial uses.
Because of Lathrop’s location and the location of other cities in the South County, Dhaliwal said that it has become a cooperative effort to try and land companies that will provide jobs that cater not only to specific cities, but the region as a whole. By working together with Manteca and Tracy, he said, the entire region wins at providing both jobs and economic activity that benefit all residents.
“We meet every month – the three mayors and city managers – and we’re working well together,” Dhaliwal said of the three South County communities. “We all support each other because these jobs we are attracting are for everybody – it helps the whole region.
“These companies look at the whole picture when they look at coming into an area – the politics and the economy of a region – and it helps to be on the same page about what we’re trying to do to help our residents.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.