By Gregory J. Wilcox, Los Angeles Daily News
It’s a big Los Angeles-adjacent suburb with a cool small-town vibe. Residents have always loved it, and now Simi Valley has been selected a Best City to Work In, according to a poll of Los Angeles News Group readers.
And it’s not just employees who like the city, business owners think Simi Valley is a good place to set up shop, says Assistant City Manager Brian Gabler.
“I think the primary reason that we enjoy being in Simi Valley is the atmosphere. We’ve got the wide-open spaces, views of the adjacent mountains, and it’s a safe community,” he said.
“Anecdotally, we hear from companies that have moved out here that their employees become more productive. It must be something in the water. There is a nice vibe. You go into the neighborhoods, and you’ve got parents pushing strollers down the street — everyone says, ‘Hello.’”
Gabler says the city’s commercial base has been growing over the years, with about 75 percent of companies moving in from the San Fernando Valley area.
Simi Valley, the third largest of Ventura County’s 10 cities, was incorporated in 1969.
According to the city’s website, two Chumash settlements once existed in the area — Shimiji (or Shimiyi) and Ta’apu. It’s believed that Shimiji is the origin of the city’s name, while its Tapo Street and Tapo Canyon owe their names to the Ta’apu. A 1795 land grant refers to a spelling of “Simí,” thus indicating the proper way to pronounce Simí was more like “suh-MEE” rather than “SEE-me.”
Today, the 118 Freeway cleaves the city, providing easy access between the Simi and the San Fernando valleys and making for a generally easy commute.
That was one factor that intrigued Larry Pizzi, president of Currie Technologies, who moved the company from Chatsworth during the summer of 2012.
Economics, the environment and a more laid-back lifestyle played major roles in his decision.
“The primary reason was that the rent is more reasonable, it’s a cleaner environment, the housing (costs) for our team members are more reasonable, and I think the city services are a whole lot better than in L.A.,” he said. “I would say everyone is much happier than when we were in Chatsworth.”
The company, which develops and distributes electric bicycles, operates out of a 50,000-square-foot building in the 3800 block of Royal Avenue. When Currie signed a long-term lease, the owner did a buildout to suit the company’s specifications.
“It’s generally a much more pleasant environment,” Pizzi said. “The air is cleaner, and there are wide-open spaces. And being in the bike business there’s all kinds of great bike infrastructure … And it’s a degree or two calmer. It’s not as hectic as the San Fernando Valley.”
Gioia Goodrum has been in town only a month but knows it’s exactly where she wants to be. Four years ago, she started a new career in the chamber of commerce sector, taking a job in Williams, Ariz. a small town near the Grand Canyon that thrives on tourism.
She learned of Simi Valley through the Western Association of Chamber Executives and eventually the president’s job at the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau became available.
“I thought, ‘Simi Valley — I’d love to live there,’ and they picked me. I’m so lucky,” she gushed.
“Simi Valley is a community of 127,000 people, and yet everybody knows everybody. It’s homey, comfortable and really nice. And people are happy here.”