With Northrop Grumman Corp. announcing an intent to move their corporate office from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. by 2011, many columnists have begun to mourn the end of an era for Southern California.
Los Angeles became known as the capital for aerospace development during the early 20th century. In recent years, companies have moved more and more of their resources and employees elsewhere, typically D.C., to be closer to the government clientele. Northrop Grumman Corp represents the last of major aerospace firms in the industry to leave the area, following Lockheed Martin in the mid-90s.
William Deverell writes, in LA Observed, that a huge factor in this gradual shift is that "land is no longer cheap, and instead of relishing distance and independence from Washington DC, government and corporate leaders seek closer connections."
The NY Times reports that 30,000 Northrop research jobs will remain in California, and of the companies 120,000 employees, only 300 inhabit the corporate office, but its the symbolism behind moving headquarters that really matters. Los Angeles might be losing its reputation for being the ideal place for corporate giants.
Aerospace organizations aren't the only types of big companies looking seeking relocations to help their companies continue to profit. The Wall Street Journal notes that Hilton Hotels Corp left Beverly Hills for D.C. just a year ago, and Countrywide Financial Corp sold to Bank of America Corp, which is based in North Carolina. Even television and film companies have moved many productions to different states in order to avoid high Los Angeles costs in a crippled financial climate.
The worry is that continued exodus from Southern California might indicate that Los Angeles and surrounding areas are losing their cachet. And with the state's economy getting worse by the day, California residents will continue to lose jobs and livelihood, possibly forcing them to relocate as well.
Is it time to start singing California's requiem? Or does this mean California simply needs to celebrate its thriving history but now seek to reinvent its purpose in this country?