An emphasis on training workers along with attractive energy rates helps Riverside lure plastics processors.
``Riverside is trying to be full-service for the plastics industry,'' said Kevin Palmer, the city's economic development manager.
The municipal utility's electric rates - typically at least 60 percent lower than those of the competing investor-owned utility - give Riverside an advantage in drawing plastics users and other heavy electricity consumers to the city.
The city also is putting together a customer technology assistance center that will offer hands-on training for prospective plastics industry workers.
Riverside Community College's economic development department is organizing injection molding and mold-making courses, typically for machine operators and set-up technicians.
The college, along with the city and utility, plan to locate the courses at the proposed center, which might allow machine makers to showcase their equipment.
``My dream is to set up the program by the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter,'' said Hank Rogers, director of a state-funded center for applied competitive technologies at the college.
Educators and representatives of the city, utility, several plastics processors, machine makers Sumitomo and Toshiba and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Western Region in Irvine, Calif., attended an autumn meeting about the program, which would target youths unlikely to attend college. Alvord Unified School District has shown interest.
``The city is getting companies to move to Riverside, and we form training centers to prepare the work force to work at these companies,'' Rogers said. ``The city is taking a long-range view and has a competitive advantage with the electricity rates. Many firms move management and technical staff, but not workers.''
The extension program of the University of California at Riverside offers higher-level plastics engineering and technology programs that might be collocated with other courses.
In recent times, Riverside has attracted outside development from injection molders Trademark Plastics Inc., AME Manufacturing Inc. and AmericanMaid, a unit of Advanced Plastics Inc.; blow molder Plascor Inc.; and thermoformer Sabert Corp.