Keep an eye on California manufacturing

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Tudor)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that is designed to spur economic development in the state, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

The new legislation includes hiring credits for companies in areas blighted with the highest jobless rates, a sales tax exemption on tools for manufacturing and research and development equipment for biotech firms, and tax incentives for companies that create jobs and pay the highest wages.

He signed the bill in San Diego at Takeda of California, a bio-tech firm. As he was thinking about locations, he might have also looked into the Inland Empire for a growing California company that is quietly building a significant manufacturing presence here in California in the field of ophthalmology.

Aaren Scientific was founded in the state over 20 years ago and develops and manufactures intraocular lenses (IOLs) and ophthalmic surgical equipment. IOLs are used to replace cataracts—there are around 3 million cataract surgeries in the U.S. alone.

One of the founders of the company, CEO Rick Aguilera, congratulated the governor for his action.

“California is obviously a great place to live and work,” he said. “These tax incentives should help create a better climate for manufacturing in California.”

Aaren has always manufactured its products in California, while larger ophthalmic device companies like Bausch + Lomb, Alcon and Abbott Medical Optics will often build their products elsewhere.

“We are very proud of the way we have built our company from the ground up right here in California,” said Aguilera. “We employ over 180 people in manufacturing alone.”

The CEO has worked in ophthalmology for the past thirty years, and his company, while not yet known very well in the United States, has made its mark overseas. Sales in Europe and other international areas support the manufacturing jobs in Ontario, California.

“We have many products in development and some in the FDA regulatory pipeline,” said Aguilera. “As these come to market we expect to see manufacturing jobs increase and those jobs will be here in California.”

Advancing manufacturing is one of the signature initiatives identified by the regional meetings held recently in advance of this year’s California Economic Summit which will be held in Los Angeles November 7 and 8.

“Manufacturing jobs are the type of middle-class jobs that many Californians desire,” said Paul Granillo who heads the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and is also co-chair of the Summit Steering Committee. “The commitment of more companies like Aaren Scientific build products the state will increase job creation and improve the state’s economy.”

The California Economic Summit process has been underway for nearly two years now through the collaboration of California Forward and the California Stewardship Network.


Ed Coghlan

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