Konami gears up to make Hollywood its new home 

While longtime gamemaker Konami, producer of the popular Dance Dance Revolution franchise, is leaving the city for a location closer to Hollywood, local experts say big business — and the tech sector — is healthier than it’s been in years.

Konami has operated a small facility in Redwood Shores since 1997, but is now consolidating with its El Segundo operation, about 25 miles from Hollywood, officials announced last week.

The decisions affects 74 employees, all of whom have been offered relocation packages if they want to move, said Suzanne Kantey, vice president of human resources for Konami.

Although Redwood City is home to giants like Electronic Arts and has hosted several other videogame companies over the years, Konami is taking its Silicon Valley operations closer to Hollywood so it can produce movie versions of its games such as "Silent Hill," Kantey said.

"The tech industry is funny; you have so many companies that come and go, and people do consolidate," said Larry Buckmaster, president of the Redwood City San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce. However, the past year has been a major boon for Redwood City, as office-space vacancies have dropped from 35 percent to roughly 15 percent, he added.

That’s partly due to Protein Design Labs BioPharma’s decision to move its operations from Fremont to Redwood City this July.

The biotech firm brings some 800 employees with it to the Pacific Shores campus on Seaport Boulevard, which will make it the 10th largest employer in Redwood City, Buckmaster said.

Many tech heavyweights are headquartered in Redwood City, including EA, Oracle and PDI/Dreamworks — and that’s always good for a city, said Pat Webb, economic development director for Redwood City.

Having major players in town creates a kind of synergy that draws similar companies.

"They like to cluster near each other, because you can get economies of scale," Webb said. "Smaller companies may choose a city based on who’s already there."

While that’s good for a city’s reputation, it’s less clear how much economic benefit it brings, said Brian Ponty, Redwood City’s finance director.

Many such companies don’t generate sales tax. However, "they bring in highly paid employees, and we’re told they’re more likely to shop here, or even buy a vehicle here," Ponty said. "We like having large groups of employees in town."

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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