LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Development Authority Friday released a draft plan for promoting local and regional economic development, starting a 30-day period for public comment.
The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the county sets goals and identifies ways to leverage local strengths to overcome barriers. The stated objective is inclusive economic prosperity and a better quality of life for all Los Angeles County residents.
The plan was developed over several months of sessions with representatives from private business, higher education, labor, education, government and community-based organizations.
Much of the plan was developed before or during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it includes a commitment to expand various recovery and relief programs to provide loans, grants and rent subsidies to small and struggling businesses. The county’s Economic Resiliency Task Force is also directly addressing the impact of COVID-19.
The overarching goals of the draft county strategy include:
— improving government responsiveness;
— growing and supporting small business and entrepreneurship;
— targeting industries and high-growth clusters;
— developing talent; and
— advancing sustainability and economic resiliency.
The proposed plan acknowledges that several departments, agencies and individuals are responsible for coordinating the county’s economic development work. That includes the members of the Board of Supervisors, each of whom emphasizes a different approach to job creation based on the needs of their district.
For example, Supervisor Hilda Solis may prioritize micro-finance loans and pushing out predatory lenders, while Supervisor Kathryn Barger may be more interested in promoting a business-friendly environment, according to the proposal.
Los Angeles County ranks behind Atlanta, San Diego and Miami as a competitive environment for small businesses and enterpreneurship, according to the plan. It ranks higher in terms of self-employment and very small businesses, with two-to-nine employees, but only average on innovation and as to women, minority and veteran-owned businesses.
Some of the fastest growing jobs are in the health care and bioscience industries, which provide about 16% of all county jobs, according to the strategic plan. Jobs in tourism and recreation and professional, scientific and technical services, are targeted as other areas for job creation.
How those rankings and targets might change given the economic effects of the coronavirus was not immediately clear.
The region’s workforce will need more training and education to succeed in the jobs of the future, which poses a challenge given that 22% of county residents have not earned a high school diploma, according to the plan.
“There needs to be a significant increase in the number of individuals with industry-valued, middle-skill degrees, certificates and credentials,” the strategic plan states.
To combat inequality, more focus also needs to be placed on early childhood education, according to the plan.