Oxnard-based Haas Automation, the nation’s largest maker of computer-controlled machine tools, has shelved plans to construct a new facility in Ventura County and is instead looking to other states with more stable regulatory environments.
The news came in a letter from Oxnard Mayor Tom Holden to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. In his letter, Holden expressed concern that Haas, which employs about 1,000 people in Oxnard in 1 million square feet of factory space in four buildings, doesn’t see the Golden State as a place for growth.
Haas Automation owner Gene Haas’s “general sentiment is that the tax and regulatory environment in California has grown incrementally and increasingly difficult through the years, to the point where it is no longer rational to make new investment in this state,” Holden wrote. “Therefore, while he his not talking at this point about relocating his entire operation out of state, [Haas] feels that any growth from this point forward needs to happen elsewhere.”
Tavi Urdea, the human resources director at Haas and a 20-year veteran of the company, told a group of Ventura County business leaders on Jan. 19 that California can be a harder place to do business than other countries. At the same time, he said the company must compete on a global stage. Haas expects to hit $1 billion in revenue in 2012, with as much as 70 percent of its sales coming from exports. He said “made in America” carries a lot of weight around the world.