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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
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Small Businesses Find Refuge In Simi Valley Amid Downturn

When Heidi Stokka moved her fulfillment business out of Chatsworth to Simi Valley last month she was pleasantly surprised by the reception she received. Stokka is not just the owner of J&S Fulfillment Services but also its sole employee, a far cry from the big corporations most cities want to see move to their borders. Stokka, however, found the atmosphere at Simi Valley City Hall to be welcoming and that city staffers wanted her business to succeed. “They really take an interest,” Stokka said. Stokka moving her small business to the city is not seen as an unusual move by Brian Gabler, an assistant city manager and director of economic development. Over the past six months, Gabler said, the number of small businesses in the city has increased. These are the businesses with 10 employees or less that are vital to the economic base of any city, Gabler said. Simi Valley counts Bank of America, Farmers Insurance Group and Aerovironment Inc. as among its largest employers. Tucked away into the city are smaller businesses like J&S, metal fabricator and powder coater AG Machining and wireless device manufacturer and wholesaler Technocel.. Making the move from the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley was not a hard one for Stokka to make as she is a city resident. She also finds the new location to be safer and better maintained than where she had been in Chatsworth. Stokka had worked with her father in Chatsworth and struck out on her own as of Nov. 1. Her brother remains in the Valley handling DVD replication and inserts while Stokka takes care of 25 clients for whom she stores and ships the products they sell. Stokka said she looked at other buildings in the Valley but found none that suited her needs. “I felt like they were all the same,” Stokka said. That small businesses are relocating to Simi Valley may have to do with the economy, Gabler said. As rental prices go down, business owners are finding there are more options to where they can be located, Gabler added. City residents operating businesses in Los Angeles County or other parts of Ventura County are also finding benefits to living and working in the same community. The city benefits from that as well. “These business owners are no longer leaving the community and not adding to the L.A. tax base,” Gabler said. “They are adding to the Simi Valley tax base.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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