Originally posed on the California Economic Summit blog
“It is time to challenge our state leaders to unleash the power, creativity and dynamism of our regional economy.”
Those words from Bill Allen, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation highlighted the Los Angeles County Regional Economic Forum held at Loyola Marymount University on Friday.
Bill Allen, Pres. & CEO of the LAEDC speaks at the L.A.
regional economic forum (Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro)
Allen oversaw a process that included more than 1,000 Los Angeles County private, public and non-profit leaders in developing a county Strategic Plan for Economic Development that is considered a model for other regions in California to follow.
Allen and L.A. County will play a major role in the first California Economic Summit that will be held in Santa Clara on May 11. The Summit will focus on the best ways to develop a state agenda to generate jobs and improve how the state competes in a global economy.
The people who attended the Los Angeles meeting today voted on several questions and were very clear about what the top priority is for Los Angeles County: to create a more business friendly environment. What’s true in Los Angeles is a theme that has been fairly consistent in other Regional Forums around the state and that is we have to do a better job of preparing an educated work force.
Doug Henton, who is part of the Summit Management Team, emphasized that the California economy varies by region. But one sector of the economy that has been hit very hard throughout the state is the construction industry, where a staggering 700,000 jobs have been lost since the housing bubble burst.
After noting that Los Angeles is one of the largest manufacturing centers in the world, Henton said “there is a mismatch between jobs that are available and the skills of the workforce to take those job and our California training systems need to better prepare people for the jobs needed in the 21st Century.”
Henton and his team are focused on solutions, and emphasized to the people in Los Angeles what Summit leaders have been saying around the state at other regional forums.
“The summit aims to find issues of common agreement”, said Henton, particularly in the areas of workforce preparation, infrastructure development, innovation and regulatory reform.
While some members of the business community feel that CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) is a hindrance to business, some environmentalists think that argument is not a fair one. After all, said Joel Reynolds, a director at the Natural Resources Defense County today, “we don’t want oil being drilled for on our beaches.”
The Summit will tackle the big issue of regulatory reform in May and, and as an example, will look for ways that economic development can occur more quickly while making sure that the environment is being protected.
When Doug Henton talks about the Summit he says there are three elements that are critical to its success: Leadership, Expertise and Participation.
“We will identify local leaders or local champions as we like to call them, who are expert and interested in the issues we raise and who want to participate in finding solutions,” said Henton.
The Summit is the first of its kind in California and the plans are to hold it as an annual event to restore California’s rightful place as an economic leader in the world.
Words by Ed Coghlan. Companion video piece below by Cheryl Getuiza.