Thursday, April 24, 2014

City honors business award winners

Lawrence Chan, vice president of information technology for Mori Seiki in Davis, and Adam Hansel, center, chief operating officer of the Japanese company, receive an award from the Davis City Council on Tuesday. From left are Council members Lucas Frerichs, Rochelle Swanson, Dan Wolk, Brett Lee and Joe Krovoza. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Mori Seiki Manufacturing and John Natsoulas were honored last week by the Davis City Council as recipients of the city’s sixth annual Business and Economic Development Awards. Mori Seiki was recognized for its business contributions to local economic development and Natsoulas was recognized for extended excellence in contributions to local economic development.

The Mori Seiki Corp., based in Japan, is the pre-eminent global leader in machine tool manufacturing, with offices and facilities worldwide. In 2012, it opened its first North America manufacturing facility in Davis.

“The Davis community has already benefited greatly and continues to be enriched by Mori Seiki’s contributions to UC Davis research, investment in Digital Technology Laboratory Corporation’s research and development, and the company’s high-value job creation,” a news release said.

“The new manufacturing facility provides further direct benefits to the local economy through higher property taxes and new higher-wage, highly skilled jobs. It is also expected to stimulate generation of additional employment in the region and act as a catalyst for further investment.”

Mori Seiki’s 221,600-square-foot light manufacturing facility on Faraday Drive in Davis will assemble and produce energy-conserving, precision machine tools for distribution in California, the United States and abroad. Now producing two lines of machines, the facility eventually will produce five to seven different machine tools, the release said. Eighty-seven people are employed there now, and at full production, there are expected to be 150 jobs.

The new facility is adjacent to Digital Technology Labs, an innovation center for Mori Seiki, formed by UC Davis mechanical engineering graduates.

The Mori Seiki company has long-standing ties to UCD, especially through the work of Professor Kazuo Yamazaki of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The company has supported Yamazaki’s research on using computers to control and run machine tools, including gifts to UCD of $3 million in 2003 and another $4.25 million in 2007. Many UCD graduate students trained by Yamazaki have gone on to work for Mori Seiki and DTL.

Greater accessibility to Mori Seiki’s advanced technologies will enable other North American manufacturing companies to create their own product innovations while reducing resource consumption, the news release said. Recognizing the substantial investment Mori Seiki has made in Davis and the region, the Sacramento Area Trade and Commerce Organization gave the company its “New Industry Award” in March 2012 honoring the company as a valued industry leader.

Natsoulas, a Davis native, has made significant contributions to Davis’ art community for more than 20 years, the release said.

“John’s ability to create and organize events, bring people to Davis and provide opportunities for artists and musicians to share their work has put Davis on the map as a California art and cultural center,” the release said.

“Our downtown community’s reputation as an innovative center for the arts has been revitalized and re-energized by John’s recent public/private partnership for the arts. This year, John’s work to create a transmedia art walk of more than 35 major sculptures and murals throughout the commercial core has created a major asset for Davis residents and ongoing economic development efforts.”

Natsoulas also was a pivotal force in creation of a new city arts and entertainment district, the release said.

“Local artists working collaboratively have strengthened our arts community. The resulting unique public/private partnership has strengthened relationships with city of Davis, UC Davis, the Davis business community and the regional arts community.”

Highlights of Natsoulas’ contributions include:

* Davis Cultural Arts & Entertainment District, founded in May 2012, envisions as a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area in which a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities will serve as the anchor attraction for tourists.

* Davis interactive transmedia sculpture and art walk, installed in February 2012, with 35 new works of art: sculptures and murals placed on private property within public view, throughout downtown with embedded technology by local software developer Monto Kumagai that guides smartphone users to interactively learn about the work and artist.

* California Conference for the Advancement for Ceramic Arts, ongoing yearly since 1987, a weeklong event that brings thousands of artists and visitors to Davis, with 45 major ceramics shows throughout downtown, including 40 college shows.

* Davis Jazz Festival/Beyond the Beat Generation, ongoing yearly, since 2006, a two-day creative arts festival that brings thousands of visitors to Davis, allowing musicians, filmmakers, scholars, historians, painters and poets a place to converge to share ideas and talent in presentations and performances.

* Great California Paint Out, ongoing yearly since 2011, this daylong workshop features painting demonstrations throughout downtown with master painters working alongside regional artists, UCD and Davis High students in all mediums.

* Art of Painting in the 21st Century, ongoing yearly since 2009 to encourage youth participation and community involvement.

The winners’ names will be added to the Business Award Recipients plaque displayed in City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Enterprise staff


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