Jobs, PLA’s, Slauson, MLK

Tech Extravaganza Inspires Youngsters

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas welcomed more than 100 middle and high schoolers from across Los Angeles County to the Microsoft YouthSpark DigiCamp Extravaganza, to encourage them to consider careers in technology.

img_2699“You are the next generation of inventors, scientists, and developers,” he told the enthusiastic youngsters, including students of Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter High School. “I look forward to seeing how your ideas and your creativity will contribute to bettering the communities and the world in which we live.”

Microsoft organized the two-day bootcamp, held in Microsoft Square at L.A. Live, as part of a series of programs to benefit the community. The event featured hands-on breakout sessions and a hackathon in which students were given the opportunity to code.

img_2696“I’m hoping these kids can learn about technology and be young spark plugs for the future!” said Forest Riley, assistant teen development coordinator for the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, who said opportunities for applying new technology abound at the neighboring Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

Microsoft organized the event in partnership with the Brotherhood Crusade, Center for Digital Inclusion, Challengers Boys & Girls Club, Sunburst Youth Academy National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, Titus Single Parent Mentoring, and Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has previously reached out to young boys and girls of color to bridge the digital divide, encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. In October 2015, he hosted the County’s first hack day at Lennox Library, in which technology giants Microsoft, IDEO, CGI and NeoGov led workshops for about 100 youth ages 16-25 on such topics as turning an idea into a product, developing software applications, and launching a career in Information Technology. Students were able to create their own apps and share their innovations with one another.

In March 2016, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spoke at a DigiGirlz Day event, co-sponsored with Girls Build LA, that urged middle and high school girls to identify a problem in their communities and engineer a plan to solve it. Students from Grace Hopper STEM Academy in Inglewood and Orville Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet in Westchester were among those who participated.

 

Exposition Park Welcomes New Soccer Stadium

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Los Angeles County and City officials along with owners of the Los Angeles Football Club joined together with a few hundred soccer fans to break ground on a new stadium in Exposition Park. Designed by LA-based architectural firm Gensler, the new soccer-specific facility named Banc of California Stadium will be built on the site of the former Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena accommodating 22,000 fans and LA’s newest soccer franchise.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAFC owners including Los Angeles legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, actor and comedian Will Ferrell, inspirational life coach and entrepreneur Tony Robbins, entertainment and sports legend Peter Guber, business leader and LAFC Lead Managing Owner Larry Berg, Co-Managing Owners Bennett Rosenthal and Brandon Beck, and LAFC President Tom Penn, in celebrating the historic groundbreaking.

“The stadium project represents a tremendous investment in South Los Angeles, providing a major league boost to our economy,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

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IMG_0456The new development will bring more than $350 million in private investment to South Los Angeles including a commitment to 40 percent local hires and 35 percent minority business. The development will include a large public plaza, restaurants, retail store, and a conference and events center, serving as a sports, entertainment, civic, and cultural landmark for Los Angeles.

“We start here,” said Larry Berg, LAFC Lead Managing Owner. “After years of planning and hard work we are set to make history here in the heart of the city.”

“This world-class stadium,” said Peter Guber LAFC Executive Chairman and Owner, “Will be a state of the art venue featuring ‘state of the heart’ experiences for players, fans and artists.”

“Los Angeles is the sports and entertainment capital of the world, and today we open a new chapter in our rich history with the world’s most popular game,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“It has always been important for me to invest in projects that create and support jobs in communities that are often overlooked, especially here in Los Angeles. The shovels in the ground today mean real dollars are now flowing into this community, benefitting thousands of people,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“So I say to the LAFC, Welcome to Expo Park… Now let’s get to work!” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

The new major league soccer team is expected to begin play in 2018 at the new stadium.

A Promise Zone in South LA

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The Obama administration has awarded South Los Angeles a federal Promise Zone designation, giving it priority access to federal funding as well as technical assistance to address the area’s 46 percent poverty rate.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti made the announcement during a press conference at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). She said the goal of the Promise Zone initiative, created by President Barack Obama in 2013, is to significantly reduce poverty by providing greater resources to serve residents.

The new South L.A. Promise Zone is home to nearly 198,000 residents in parts of Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, and the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhoods. It is one of one of 13 urban Promise Zones in the nation, and the second in the City of Los Angeles.

IMG_0656 (1)A coalition of 53 community partners and more than 50 allies who developed the winning application call it the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z). They seek to capitalize on opportunities that new light rail lines bring for economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

“SLATE-Z represents an unprecedented partnership among dozens of diverse organizations with the collective vision of improving the quality of life in South LA,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This place-based approach aims to transform distressed neighborhoods into destination neighborhoods.”

Larry Frank, president of LATTC and convener of the SLATE-Z coalition, said, “With preference points on most federal grant opportunities and a partnership with HUD staff, the existing LA Promise Zone received more than $100 million in grants since designation in 2014. It is now South L.A.’s chance to step up.”

The federal designation will bring crucial benefits to residents. For example, students at the 11 comprehensive high schools in SLATE-Z will receive increased support to prepare for colleges and careers. Currently, more than half of residents older than 25 have less than a high school education and only nine percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The coalition also plans to tackle the 12 percent unemployment rate and under- employment to move more residents into living wage jobs and career pathways.

One of the coalition’s early victories was securing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s unanimous approval to create the Universal Pass or U-Pass pilot program, making more part-time students eligible for fare discounts. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Metro Board chair, carried the motion.

“The Promise Zone designation will help build on the incredible things already happening in South Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This will bring new resources, energy, and urgency into our movement to expand opportunity in all of L.A.’s neighborhoods.”

US Rep. Karen Bass added, “This isn’t just an incredible victory for South Los Angeles, it shows that when our community leadership works together, we can accomplish great things for our neighborhoods.

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Creating Jobs in Los Angeles County

Making good on its promise to create and promote good paying jobs across the region, the Board of Supervisors received and filed a report and presentation on the Economic and Community Development motion approved by the Board last year.

On a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis on October 20, 2015, the board funded a consultant team led by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation with an initial deposit of $965,000 into the Trust Fund, including $365,000 to boost the bioscience industry and $450,000 to support other sectors that could generate high-paying jobs that can support local families. At that time, the Board set an initial minimum goal of $4.5 million for this coming fiscal year, followed by a gradual increase over the next five years to an annual commitment of at least $15 million.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, March 1, 2016

“Maintaining economically healthy and sustainable communities is essential County business,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We need to be vigilant and proactive in the quest to maintain a healthy economy.”

He elaborated further on the need for putting increased focus on the County’s economic development strategy in an Op-Ed, Job Creation: Essential Los Angeles County Business.

The Economic and Community Development initiatives focused on retaining and expanding employment opportunities throughout the County at all skill levels. The new initiatives complement other programs including permit streamlining, small business assistance, local hire, living wages for County contractors, the minimum wage initiative and the new industry sector focus of the Workforce Development Board.

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“Economic development efforts need to be multi-dimensional,” said Martha M. Escutia, former California State Senator and Vice President for USC Government Relations.

Left to Right: Cecilia Estolono, Martha Escutia, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Sherry Rudnak, Bill Allen

The major program elements include 1) assistance for the manufacturing sector; 2) commercial corridor revitalization, and 3) formulating strategies and loan programs to grow key industry sectors.

“The focus will be on those industries with the greatest growth potential such as bioscience,” the Supervisor said.

The Trust Fund will provide loans to small and medium-sized manufacturers, as well as technical support to the bioscience industry, which includes research on genes, living organisms, agriculture and food processing to develop new medical procedures, devices and pharmaceuticals. Although currently a small sector of the regional economy with approximately 40,000 jobs, bioscience has significant growth potential, according to a 2014 County-commissioned study by the Battelle Memorial Institute.

The bioscience industry is the initial key industry sector that has received support from previously Board-approved directives. County real property assets are also targeted to assist with the growth of the bioscience industry, including underutilized assets located at the County’s five medical campuses.

“If we are going to do a bioscience cluster and a bioscience sector, it has to be related to employing our youth, the folks coming out of our community colleges as well as our Universities,” said Cecilia Estolono, Executive Director for Los Angeles Bioscience Hub.

“In the areas of biomed and advanced manufacturing, there is a lot of research coming out of our lab at USC. But we need to make sure that research and its job creation capacity stays in LA County,” Escutia said.

The economic development programs approved by the board are slated to be funded and implemented by June of 2017.