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Town is the apple of some manufacturers’ eyes
BY DAVID KECK SPECIAL TO THE DAILY PRESS  |  25-Feb-2010
           Manufacturers looking to position themselves for an economic recovery have once again cast a gaze to the High Desert.
           So says The Boyd Company, a New Jersey based consulting firm that advises businesses on where they should locate, ranked Apple Valley and Barstow among the Top 45 small market U.S. cities in a recently released cost-comparison report. Barstow ranked 28th and Apple Valley placed 32nd in the study. 
           “This is very good news for this part of the state,” John Boyd Jr., the company founder’s son and one of the firm’s principals, said Wednesday. He said some of the firm’s clients already have their eyes on the High Desert, he said. 
           Like a mom on a tight budget working the sales aisles, many company executives have shopped around during the economic downturn and see a bargain in the Victor Valley, Boyd said. And while popular opinion of those in business is that California is anti-business, other states have recently ratcheted up taxes and regulations, making them less-attractive options for expansion. 
           The study’s results could not have come at a better time for Ken Henderson, assistant town manager for economic & community development for the town of Apple Valley. 
           Apple Valley has worked hard to position itself for an inevitable economic comeback, streamlining its permitting process and pushing for completion of a large industrial complex on the north side of town, he said. Henderson said he wants the North Apple Valley Industrial Specific Plan completed by the end of this year. 
           “It’s excellent news,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.” 
           While Boyd said the two have not talked, he and Henderson seem to be of the same mind when it comes to industries the town should attract. Boyd sees the area ripe for green production facilities because of state and federal subsidies, while aerospace and high-end automotive parts manufacturers would also makes good fits. 
           Interestingly, Henderson
recently attended a medical industry trade show where he met with several medical device manufacturers. Without mentioning names he received what he called three or four “very promising leads.” 
           “At trade shows you talk to 100 companies and realize three, maybe four serious leads,” Henderson said. “That’s a pretty good batting average in the area of industrial development.” 
           Boyd, incidentally, said a medical device manufacturer would also be an excellent match for Apple Valley. 
           Not that Apple Valley comes up as the perfect place to set up shop, Boyd said. 
           Water — the lack of it — is a major issue in the High Desert that has also plagued industrial progress in other southwestern states. Another big obstacle is AB 32, the greenhouse gas reduction law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. Boyd said flatly that the law will hurt business, contribute to unemployment and cost consumers. 
           “This is not the time to saddle costs onto the business community,” Boyd said. “California needs to grow its way out of this recession and not tax its way out.” 
           Boyd based the study on the total costs of a hypothetical 250,000-square-foot manufacturing plant employing 300 workers. The firm created the study with hightech manufacturing companies in mind, specifically those using advanced or computer-operated production processes. 
           The firm, which is based in Princeton, N.J. and counts Hewlett-Packard, Honda Motor Company of America and Verizon Wireless among its clients, conducts similar studies every 18 months or so as a routine part of its business, Boyd said. Several of the firm’s clients are specifically interested in the Victor Valley in general, Apple Valley in particular. Boyd said he met with two on Wednesday morning, though he would not identify them. 
           Lenoir, N.C., topped the Boyd study. It cost $19.9 million annually to run the hypothetical factory. Best in the West was Quincy, Wash., where the factory there would cost $21.4 million each year. Quincy, which has plenty of water and cheap hydroelectric power from the Columbia River, finished ninth nationally.
           The same factory would cost $25.1 million in Barstow and $25.6 million in Apple Valley, according to the study. Except for corporate travel, virtually every cost category was cheaper in Quincy, with labor and power costs were each estimated to be more than $1.5 million less expensive. 
           “It used to be in real estate that everything was location, location, location,” Boyd said. “Now in 2010 for industry it has to do with energy, energy, energy.”

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