By: Rebecca Mikkelsen
How are our region’s leading economic development entities collaborating to push through this dismal economy’s inflection point? Read on to learn how these groups are setting aside partisan differences, cultivating strategic alliances and achieving tangible results that benefit the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys.
Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)
Bill C. Allen,
President & CEO of Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.
Throughout the last century, Los Angeles has been at the forefront of taking innovative ideas from conception to “Main Street” and the beacon for the rest of our nation’s creative output. Indeed, Los Angeles County, with its $540 billion economy spread across 14 leading export-oriented industry clusters as diverse as entertainment and analytical instruments, is the recognized global center for creative research, design, manufacturing, and trade.
Even so, and despite our longstanding history of success, much work remains to be done to ensure that we remain similarly and continually competitive in the fast-changing, ever-connected global economy. At its core, this is the guiding vision of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC): to ensure a strong, diverse, and sustainable economy for Los Angeles County’s residents and communities.
Business Assistance Program
Our award-winning, internationally-recognized Business Assistance Program (BAP) has been helping businesses of all shapes and sizes take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer for more than 15 years. Leveraging its ties to a broad-based coalition of educational institutions, chambers of commerce, trade organizations, public officials and other regional partners, the LAEDC's team of economic development professionals offers free-of-charge services to not only keep the doors open for existing businesses, but open new ones for those businesses looking to come or expand into this great region.
While we focus our work within L.A. County, global competition demands that we also expand our focus internationally. One of the region’s greatest strengths is its built-in assets, including LAX – the world’s busiest origin and destination airport – and our twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which represent the largest port complex in the nation. Taken together, these levers of economic growth help to support an international trade sector of over $387 billion, and serve as an enticement to the thousands of foreign firms supporting almost one out of 10 private sector jobs sited here in the County.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen the fruits of our global outreach efforts with companies such as BYD and China Air locating operations here in L.A. County.
Common Sense Public Policy
But our efforts are not limited to programs. That’s because sensible government policy is part of the equation to create a more welcoming environment for businesses and the jobs and tax revenue that businesses create. Guided by the analysis of our team of expert economists, the LAEDC has taken the lead to promote common-sense public policy solutions at the local, state and federal levels. We have also made it a priority to work with our numerous partner-organizations not only here in L.A. County, but up-and-down the state, to identify and galvanize support behind important initiatives that will spur economic recovery, sustained growth, and keep our state and region competitive.
And finally, our most important initiative of the last few years has been our work facilitating the development of the Los Angeles County Strategic Plan for Economic Development. Predicated on the need to build broad consensus amongst a diverse set of labor, business, environmental and community-based stakeholders around core economic development principles, the five-year plan proposes 12 objectives and 52 strategies to achieve five goals in the areas of: preparing an educated workforce; creating a business-friendly environment; implementing smart land use policy; and enhancing our quality of life for the residents of our communities. Now in its second year of implementation, and widely adopted by 84 of the County’s 88 cities, the plan – along with the support of our partners both in the county and throughout California – has served as the model for a number of similar strategic planning efforts up and down the state.
BIZFED, the Los Angeles County Business Federation
CEO of BizFed, the Los Angeles County Business Federation
What is BizFed?
A modern-day grassroots alliance, Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) comprises more than 95 top local business groups representing more than 165,000 business owners and more than 2 million employees across the breadth of LA County. Our alliance’s united charter is to mobilize the collective - and cooperative – voice of existing business organizations, trade groups and chambers of commerce on business and policy issues that affect the economic vitality and quality of life in Los Angeles County and all of its 88 cities.
What’s the Secret Sauce?
It is this “power in numbers” that empowers BizFed’s diverse and growing business membership. Organizing and tapping into BizFed’s “network of networks” with a depth of regional economic expertise– all with the single goal of collectively advancing public agendas for strong sustainable economic vitality for our region.
How Do We Do It?
Every day, BizFed’s focus is on intelligence-sharing among our members and LA County businesses. BizFed supports all of its members such as the Burbank Chamber, the Valley Economic Alliance, Valley Economic Development Corp, Glendale Assoc of Realtors, Pasadena Chamber, Building Industry Assoc, Regional Black Chamber of SFV, and the LA American Institute of Architects through alerts on critical issues and breaking news on federal, state and local issues, getting members’ access to key decision-makers and elected officials. We’re changing the outcomes for the job creators by facilitating a larger, more powerful and united voice on businesses’ priority issues.
Why Do We Do It?
There’s no more time for “Blah, Blah, Blah” – among our elected officials or any one of us. True to BizFed’s charter, our members believe we all need to work collaboratively to move our economy forward with a focus on jobs first.
Some Examples of Success by Mobilizing Together
BizFed was an early supporter of Measure R, the half-cent sales tax, to fix the region’s transportation gridlock that is strangling our economic growth. Approved by voters in 1998, it is bringing $40 billion in traffic relief and transportation upgrades and creating an estimated 166,000 jobs for our county.
We successfully supported the ballot initiative that has led to this year’s top-two open primaries system for the first time, leading the way to reduce partisan gridlock. With the goal of getting more business experienced people elected to office to bring pragmatic solutions to dealing with government regulations, permitting processes, taxes and public policies.
On another urgent note, many of our members are actively engaged with the Governor’s Office and the legislature developing the critically needed “next-generation” tax increment financing tools to find the workable successor to tackle redevelopment needs in our underserved areas.
See us in action 24/7 at bizfed.org, facebook.com/bizfed or call us at 213.426.3282 and join our next Board meeting.
San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP)
President, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
Partner, Lucas, Horsfall, Murphy & Pindroh
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” --Henry Ford
The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership is all about partnerships. We pride ourselves on being a collaboration of businesses, local governments, and educational and non-profit organizations committed to helping attract and nurture successful businesses that enrich the quality of life in the San Gabriel Valley. Our strength comes from the partnership between the public and private sectors working together to promote business and investment in the region.
If success is working together, then to be successful the Partnership’s partnering must reach far beyond our region. Our long time collaboration with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) has allowed us to offer professional technical assistance to more than 1,600 businesses and resulted in the creation and/or retention of almost 5,000 jobs in the last three years. Through LAEDC, the Partnership has access to international trade groups and exhibits that promote the San Gabriel Valley to a worldwide audience.
Public Policy Advocacy
Our members tell us that one of the Partnership’s most important programs is our public policy advocacy work. Members of the Partnership study issues and legislation and recommend positions that will benefit the San Gabriel Valley’s economy. By partnering with County-wide advocacy groups such as the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed), the Partnership is able to leverage our members’ policy voice with those of trade groups representing tens of thousands of businesses from every region in Los Angeles County. Collectively the strength of our message increases dramatically when businesses coalesce around issues that are important for creating jobs.
Collaboration that brings together like minded enterprises from throughout the state of California is also important. The Partnership has been a member of the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) for many years. CalChamber has worked to enhance the economy and prepare California for a prosperous future for more than 120 years. They represent businesses employing one-fourth of the State’s workforce. Recently Marc Burgat, Vice Present of Government Affairs, visited the San Gabriel Valley to tell us about CalChamber’s comprehensive strategy for economic recovery. Now it is the Partnership’s task to help move this strategy forward.
Henry Ford really got it right. Working together is success and is the only way to be successful in today’s world economy.
The Valley Economic Alliance (VEA)
President & CEO, The Valley Economic Alliance
The Valley Economic Alliance collaborates for success with other economic development organizations by being the boots-on-the-ground working partner of the LAEDC. The county financially supports the LEADC and they in turn support the VEA in the form of a paid staffer dedicated to business assistance.
The VEA is also a strategic partner of the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in this region. Together, we hold the largest job fair event in the Valley each year. This event “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” is aimed at placing veterans into the private sector but is also open to the general public in the afternoon. Last year, 163 people found employment that day, with 88 of those being veterans.
While the VEA does not create jobs itself, we foster job growth and economic development by helping those who do. We work with local developers to get their projects through the approval process so that jobs can be created. For example, we assisted Westfield Malls to gain community acceptance and approval for their Topanga Village Project which will produce some 7,000 jobs in total by completion. We also helped Wal-Mart locate in Burbank recently for another 300 jobs. Right now we are working with the Hidden Creeks Estates project to build 188 upscale homes adjacent to Porter Ranch, which will produce quality construction jobs during the build and ongoing tax benefits thereafter.
Impact of Losing City Redevelopment Programs
We believe the dismantling our cities’ redevelopment is, in the short term, creating chaos. People don’t know if they have a job or will be paid for the job of dismantling the system. In the mid-term, it is creating delays, confusion, and uncertainty. Projects and support are on hold. A lack of confidence in the future is being seen everywhere. In the long term, we could wind up with what looks very much like the old program. The difference will be that a portion of the incremental tax revenue will go to the state, which is what Governor Brown wanted all along.
Supports Film and Television Tax Credit
To counteract the challenges facing our region’s film and entertainment industry, the VEA worked with LAEDC, VICA, and Biz Fed to support California’s “Film and Television Tax Credit” program. This was enacted in 2009. In its first two years, it has generated more than $3.8 billion in economic output and works to help support more than the 20,000 jobs in the state. Most of which are right here in the region.
Perspective on Governor’s Pension Reform
Going forward public sector pensions must move from “defined benefit” plans to “defined contribution” plans, just as the private sector has done. This makes pensions portable and eliminates the legacy costs that we are seeing now.
The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA)
David Adelman, Chairman & Board of Directors of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association
Partner, Greenberg & Bass
The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) is a business advocacy organization. All of our work centers on creating an economic and regulatory environment that supports job growth and healthy business activity. When addressing legislation that impacts California businesses, VICA often partners with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Central City Association (CCA) to advocate for more business-friendly solutions. Specific to the San Fernando Valley, VICA collaborates with The Valley Economic Alliance and Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC) to improve economic opportunities for businesses and residents.
VICA fosters job growth and economic development through its advocacy efforts. Over the past year, VICA has celebrated many successes that either enhanced opportunities for economic development or defeated legislation that would compromise job growth.
VICA helped save tax incentives for businesses by successfully fighting against Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to eliminate enterprise zones in California. VICA also worked with the City of Los Angeles to create and fund its Office of Economic Impact. The purpose of the office is to issue reports about the economic consequences of city proposals and ordinances. Additionally, VICA fought for several city tax incentives to help boost local businesses and create jobs. These included a tax holiday for new companies in the City of Los Angeles and progress toward tax reform in Los Angeles that will eventually eliminate the gross receipts tax. VICA will remain focused on its goal to see the end of the gross receipts tax, which essentially penalizes companies for doing business in Los Angeles. More information about the gross receipts tax and VICA’s campaign to eliminate it can be found at www.axthetaxlosangeles.com.
Loss of Local Redevelopment Agencies “A Devastating Blow”
VICA believes the loss of local redevelopment agencies is a devastating blow to local economic development activities. Community redevelopment agencies were an important tool for cities to improve blighted areas and invest in local businesses. Without them, communities will struggle to empower the neighborhoods that need it the most. VICA is currently working with its members to develop alternatives to redevelopment programs and find ways to encourage investment in local communities. Fortunately, the state enterprise zone program averted that budget chopping block and designated communities can still take advantage of these valuable tax incentives.
Avid Supporter of FilmWorks
VICA is an avid supporter of FilmWorks and collaborates regularly with its entertainment industry members (from FilmL.A., Inc, which provides permits; to the major studios, prop houses and other businesses that serve the production process) to inform and educate elected officials about the importance of the film industry to California’s economy. VICA is an ongoing proponent of the California film production tax incentives and continues to advocate for extending this vital program. In addition to the filming tax credits, VICA was also active in helping protect the creative content produced by the industry. To do this, VICA helped the recording arts industry by working to pass a bill that enables the authorities to identify compact disc plants responsible for pressing fraudulent recordings.
Supports Governor’s Pension Reform
VICA supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s 12-Point Pension Reform Plan, which includes reforms previously introduced by VICA. Brown recognizes the need for change in the California public employee system and has crafted a plan that addresses system abuses and increases employee contributions.