This piece was originally posted on the California Economic Summit blog
Only 150 years ago, Los Angeles was a sleepy pueblo surrounded by rolling ranchlands. Today, if Southern California were its own country, its economy would rank as the world’s 11th largest –approximately between the economies of Mexico and India. L.A. County alone would rank 16th, between Australia and Russia, and has a larger GDP than Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Taiwan.
The key reason for this success, beyond the weather, is a diverse range of industries, from entertainment to aerospace, manufacturing to high tech and more.
That’s the good news. While the nation holds a high level debate about economic policy and job creation, here in Southern California local leaders are striving to produce real results in these areas every day, but the climb is steep.
On August 22, the Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities will hold its second annual City Economic Development Conference to explore the challenges facing the region, how local government can produce positive impacts for their local and regional economies and what partnerships are available to city officials.
In addition to the lingering effects of the housing crisis, the loss of Redevelopment as a economic development tool has hamstrung local government at the worst possible time. Unemployment in the six county Southern California region stands at 10.5 percent and a number of key developments stand to exacerbate the employment situation across the region.
The expansion of the Panama Canal and a new facility coming online in Ensenada pose direct threats to L.A.’s port complex, which currently move about 40 percent of all containerized goods entering the U.S., for now the largest seaport in the Western Hemisphere.
The region’s defense and aerospace industries, long a cornerstone of its economy and a springboard for high tech innovation, face uncertainty from federal budget cuts.
These threats to specific industries are only compounded by increased competition for California businesses and talent. The City Economic Development Conference will convene mayors, councilmembers, city managers and staff together with business leaders and leading voices from the fields of economics, law, land use and academia to address workable strategies that local governments can implement to foster growth and aid the region’s economic recovery.
A full agenda and registration information can be found online at www.lacities.org/econdev. The day will begin with an economic forecast report from Dr. Robert Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), and new speakers are being added almost daily. I hope you’ll join us at this important event.
Robb Korinke is the Executive Director, Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities.
The California Economic Summit that was held last spring addressed major issues facing the state economy. We will continue to cover how Californians are working to improve the state’s ability to create jobs and improve the state’s economic climate.