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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023


Employ/garcia/22″/cw1st/mark2nd By SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter Those help-wanted shingles around the San Fernando Valley won’t be coming down anytime soon. Two new surveys assessing manpower needs suggest that at least a third of Valley employers expect to add to their rosters in the coming year. While new hiring is expected to be robust for Los Angeles County overall, the employment picture is rosier for the Valley than it is for other parts of L.A., including the Westside, according to one just-released report from Manpower Inc., a national staffing company that conducts employment trend surveys. Manpower reports that 41 percent of Valley employers surveyed expect to increase their workforce numbers in the first quarter of 1999, compared with 25 percent of Westside employers and 35 percent of employers in the county overall. Another 43 percent of employers surveyed in the Valley expect no changes in their workforce, and 13 percent said they had not made any decisions concerning their staffing needs for 1999. Only 3 percent of Valley employers responding said they had plans to reduce staff in the first quarter of next year. “Basically, their findings are consistent with our findings,” said Jack Rooney, president of the Valley Economic Development Center, which has been conducting its own survey of employment needs in the Valley. The VEDC just released an interim report showing that 35 percent of Valley employers expect to increase their staff rosters in the coming year. The survey of 1,000 businesses found that 376 companies currently have job openings, including 236 spots in the service industries, 70 in manufacturing, 42 in retail and 28 in distribution and wholesale trades. “It’s largely the smaller companies, under 500 employees,” Rooney said. Although the strong economy is expected to contribute to hiring across all industries, activity in the Valley will come primarily from two particular groups of employers high tech and entertainment. “I think the increase is going to come a lot from the new-technology area,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County. “You have a rapidly growing new-technology sector in the Valley, and regardless of what’s been said about entertainment, I think you’re still going to see some growth in that industry as well.” While other centers of high-tech manufacturing have been adversely affected by the Asian financial crisis, which curtailed sales of semiconductors, only a small portion of the business in the so-called Tech Corridor that runs along the Ventura (101) Freeway from the San Fernando Valley to Ventura County, relies on that segment of the business. The vast majority of Tech Corridor companies are devoted to aerospace, biomedical manufacturing, computer software and multimedia program development, said Cliff Numark, program director for the Los Angeles Regional Technology Alliance, a non-profit organization that assists the high-tech industry in Southern California. Those types of businesses have been increasing steadily. Countywide, Numark said, the number of aerospace and high-tech jobs is estimated to have reached 145,000 in 1998, up from 139,000 in 1996. Though there are no specific figures for the San Fernando Valley, Numark points out that anecdotal evidence suggests much of that growth has taken place along the Tech Corridor. “The 101 Corridor is what people talk about in terms of a multimedia place,” Numark said. Last year, an engineer working in the Tech Corridor created a Web site to keep tabs on the companies in the area. When he began the project as a hobby, Benjamin Kuo said he identified 30 to 40 companies. Since then, he and others who have visited the site have compiled a list of nearly 180 companies in the area. They range in size from firms with annual revenues of less than $1 million to billion-dollar companies. Along with firms engaged in more predictable segments of the business like networking products and services, biomedical manufacturing and aerospace electronics companies, the list now includes Web site designers, developers of encryption software, computer animation companies and manufacturers of digital surround-sound systems and simulation rides. At the same time, the burgeoning biomedical field is churning out new companies almost daily, said Ahmed Enany, executive director of the Southern California Biomedical Council, a group that helps startups obtain financing and technical support. “The three universities are doing a good job of turning out entrepreneurial scientists who want to start up their own firms,” Enany said, referring to Cal State Northridge, Cal Tech and UCLA. “What you’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.” Entrepreneurial startups are not limited to the high-tech industries either, according to Rooney of the VEDC. That agency’s survey shows that many of the companies that will offer new employment opportunities in the coming year are small firms that have found lucrative niches in the expanding economy. “We have a roofing business that hired 100 people and a company that manufactures wheelchair lifts that has hired 250 people,” Rooney said. “These are not the glamour industries that economists point to, but in the Valley, it’s this cross-section of non-sexy industries that are representing the bulk of the (business) population.”

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