Los Angeles Business Journal

Getting L.A.’s Economy Moving

Op-Ed Projects at LAX, local ports and Convention Center could work to improve region’s job picture. By Russell Goldsmith and Michael Kelly Monday, December 10, 2012

As California regains its footing in the recovering economy, we must address one clear fact – the city of Los Angeles has lost 165,000 net jobs since 1980, but added close to 1 million residents during that same period. That fact underscores the need in this city, region and state for more quality jobs. That calls for more effective steps by the public sector to foster economic and job growth in the region.

Growing an economy doesn’t just happen. It requires many things, including capital, skilled and confident entrepreneurs, a talented and educated labor pool, and much more. But constructive and proactive political leadership and responsible government and pro-growth policies are also vital. L.A.’s Measure R and its “30/10” plan to accelerate the construction of 12 major public transportation lines throughout Los Angeles County is a perfect example of the positive contributions strong political leadership can make.

But with unemployment still above 11 percent, other delayed or new economic development initiatives must move forward now.  

L.A.’s history shows us that in key moments the region’s business, labor and civic leaders have demonstrated a shared commitment to economic growth. They focused on growing the economy by investing in significant projects that attracted and connected a growing population, and fostered new industries like entertainment and aerospace. They built aqueducts that deliver our water, the freeway system, the nation’s busiest port complex and one of the world’s leading airports. (The port and airport remain the two biggest job generators in Southern California.)

These achievements should serve as a guide for all of us who have a stake in L.A.’s future. Today, the L.A. Coalition for the Economy & Jobs is bringing together a number of the region’s business, labor, non-profit and academic leaders to work more closely with our public-sector leaders to collectively address today’s most pressing economic issues and opportunities. Right now, we are focusing on three initiatives that will create quality jobs, grow our economy and improve the quality of life in Los Angeles. Everyone in Los Angeles should support these:

Make much-needed and long-delayed investments in the Los Angeles International Airport and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Our region’s economic growth opportunities remain strongly linked to our two transportation hubs. The mayor and the City Council have recognized this with their support for LAX’s modernization improvements, such as the new Bradley West Terminal, and the port of L.A.’s $1.2 billion capital improvement program. Now, after a decade of debate, public policymakers must approve the following:

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