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