L.A. County 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas welcomes participants to the Further-ing Economic Opportunity gathering at Cal-State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 22. Photo In the Works Media

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas convened an economic development gathering within the 2nd District on September 22, at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Co-conveners were Dr. Willie Hagan, president CSUDH, Councilmember Curren Price, and Benny Tran, senior vice president of Development and Strategy, Los Angeles Football Club.

Leading economic development officials, policy makers, practitioners, and business organizations met to discuss economic development priorities, address challenges, identify solutions, and encourage greater intra-regional collaboration amongst key-economic development stakeholders.

“Furthering Economic Opportunity in Los Angeles County’s Second District” brought together academic, business, community, and governmental leaders across its diverse area of eight cities and nearly two million residents. The forum was designed to bring economic development stakeholders and practitioners together with public sector leaders,” said Ridley-Thomas in his welcoming remarks.

“Our goal is to develop real solutions designed to break down barriers; you’ve heard this before, to economic growth that promote prosperity that is more equitably distributed and shared by as many as we can possibly extend it to and/or accomplish,” stated Ridley-Thomas.

He looked to the group for innovative and creative solutions to challenging issues faced in attempts to create sustainable and well-paying jobs.

“Three objectives that I wish to accomplish as a public official first is jobs. The second is jobs, and what do you think the third is? There you go. You’ve passed,” Ridley-Thomas said, prompting laughter from the audience.

The effort was also about investment, business ownership opportunities, and equity of a variety of sources, not just jobs, said the veteran public servant.

Addressing unemployment and under-employment is critical to the health of the 2nd District, he continued. Those remain pervasive, he said, as he applauded efforts on the local level to promote jobs.

Ridley-Thomas congratulated the cities of Compton and Inglewood, finalists for the L.A. Economic Development Corporation’s 2017 Most Business-Friendly City in Los Angeles County Award.

Participants text questions to panelists in interactive moment during the Furthering Economic Opportunity in L.A. County’s Second District gathering at Cal-State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 22. Photo by In the Works Media

Compton’s business friendliness and public engagement help companies succeed, and its business loan programs, online permit portal, and business roundtables seeking input for new initiatives are all examples of business-friendly practices indicated the LAEDC.

Inglewood is increasingly known for attracting major real estate and entertainment investments, and welcomes new businesses with a customer service approach, according to LAEDC.

“Being business friendly is important, because although unemployment rates have improved significantly since the great recession, we take that point paying attention to the health of our regional economy as necessary for weathering the next economic downturn,” said Ridley-Thomas.

Dwayne Gathers, founder of Gathers Strategies, Inc., and Ridley-Thomas’ representative on the LAEDC, facilitated the economic forum, and thanked Hagan for opening the campus to participants.

The event included working sessions to address challenges and constraints, and to identify solutions to further economic growth and opportunity. Topics for the sessions included access to capital, education, training, and workforce development, housing a growing workforce, and technology and infrastructure.

The sessions tackled issues ranging from capital for start-ups, small business lending, aligning education with industry sectors and clusters to provide skilled workers in “new collar jobs” and workforce housing needs.

Ninth District Councilman Curren Price, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, discussed efforts to enhance core city services, the importance of fostering intra-regional collaborations in the 2nd District and South L.A. He also highlighted work to improve quality of life for his constituents.

One was increasing the hotel living wage to help workers better provide for themselves and families, and increasing the minimum wage to $15 by the year 2020.

“Angelinos now have 40 hours of sick pay. That was a benefit many of us just take for granted, but for the average working stiff, it really can make a difference,” Price stated.