Hundreds of new jobs will be added to the local workforce in health care, aerospace, manufacturing and other critical business sectors, the mayor announced this week during a gathering to promote business and innovation.
The city is at a critical juncture, transitioning from its reliance on oil revenue to what it hopes will be more jobs in other areas, such as the city’s burgeoning space industry.
“The way we fund our city services are fundamentally changing,” Mayor Rex Richardson said at his “Grow Long Beach” event at the Aquarium of the Pacific Wednesday. “In order to secure our city’s financial future and continue to deliver essential quality public services that our residents depend on, we have to grow our economy in a new and more sustainable direction.”
Richardson focused on five key economic growth sectors: aerospace and aviation; health care; ports and logistics; housing and education; and arts, culture and tourism.
One of the most significant announcements was that ExLabs, which focuses on cleaning space debris, is moving into its new manufacturing and assembly facility on Oct. 1. The 26,000-square-foot space will be located on the Long Beach Airport property, and will be utilized for 3D printing of its robotic system.
The company, founded last year, already needs a larger facility as it moves into its next phase of prototype development, CEO Matthew Schmidgall told the Business Journal in a recent interview.
Schmidgall hopes that by next year, 75 positions will be added, with about 50 or so focused in Long Beach, he said. Schmidgall also said he plans to develop partnerships with local colleges, with sights set on eventually developing an internship program.
“This move to manufacturing really highlights our progress and capability to take design to physical elements, so it’s a big step for us as a company and really is a pivot point in our capabilities,” Schmidgall said.
“We’re super excited to be here in Long Beach,” he said. “It’s a fun time to be here, and be in this industry, so (we’re) excited to continue to grow.”
JetZero, which recently received a $235 million investment from the U.S. Air Force, is also expected to double its workforce of 75 employees over the next year.
And Rocket Lab recently secured what was formerly Virgin Orbit’s Douglas Park headquarters, a 140,000 square-foot facility, which will be used as an Engine Development Center and will bring over 120 new jobs to the city. The company will celebrate its ribbon-cutting on Oct. 4.
Richardson also referenced Long Beach Airport, and its recently opened baggage claim, ongoing work on its historic terminal, and its offering of numerous new destinations, including Orlando, El Paso, Colorado Springs, and more.
Other business announcements included:
- After completing a $27 million investment in its North Long Beach facility, Toyota Motor North America has expanded its production capacity in the city, Richardson said, and has added the company’s first coil-fed laser blanking line.
- Richardson highlighted Blue Shield’s recent opening of its Long Beach office, which brought about 1,000 employees to the space, and noted that the health care industry represents 20,000 Long Beach jobs, among its numerous institutions from the VA Hospital, to MemorialCare, and St. Mary, along with insurance providers.
- Richardson noted the Port of Long Beach’s pier wind project concept, announced earlier this year, which will assist with meeting offshore wind goals while providing economic benefit.
- The Taiwanese billion-dollar steel distribution company, Ta Chen, also brought its international headquarters to Long Beach. The company is a major importer through the Port, Richardson said.
Since last year, $408 million in development projects have been completed, while $507 million in projects are currently under construction, and $2.1 billion in new projects have been approved or moving ahead in the pipeline, said Richardson.
In the first two quarters just this year, Long Beach grew more than 1,500 homes, 500 of which were affordable, and over 200 were reserved for formerly homeless individuals, Richardson said.
“We’re proud, incredibly proud of the steps being taken to be able to approve affordable housing projects within 60 days or less,” Richardson said.
Richardson highlighted a few housing projects: the recently completed 432-unit Onni East Village apartment community, Edgewood Point, 38 homes now for sale in North Long Beach, the nearly complete 88-unit Wellspring affordable unit project in Midtown, the proposed East Village 103-unit affordable housing development known as Denali, and Mosaic in Downtown, which will include 900 units, 54 of which will be affordable, he said.
An Onni Group 600-market-rate-unit development near 2nd & PCH was also recently approved by the Planning Commission, Richardson said.
The city has also entitled 93 micro-units, with 517 still proposed in the pilot program, Richardson said.
Educational partnerships include the Hillside North Housing project at Cal State Long Beach, which will include 424 beds for students, and Long Beach City College’s North Long Beach higher education center, which is scheduled to open later this year, with hopes of also developing student housing in coming years.
Arts, culture and tourism
After years of renovations, Fairmont Breakers Long Beach has an opening date: March 2024. The historic building was used as an assisted living facility from 1991 to 2015, before being purchased by Pacific6 in 2017.
The mayor also unveiled plans for the Queen Mary, which include developing the surrounding acres as an amphitheater. Richardson is calling for a five-year development plan to be initiated in advance of the 2028 Olympics, which could include determining if building an amphitheater next to the ship is feasible.
With the Olympics on the horizon, Richardson also announced a $50 million investment into the Convention Center, recently approved by City Council in preparation for 2028. The Convention Center has been awarded for the eighth time as “Best in the West” by the prestigious Stella Awards, Richardson noted.
USA Diving has also selected Long Beach as its location for its high diving event, “the first of its kind on the entire West Coast,” Richardson said.
Expected to be held on Labor Day weekend next year, and featuring athletes from over 20 countries, the hope is that the event becomes a “destination event” unique to Long Beach ahead of the Olympics, President of USA Diving, Lee Michaud told the Business Journal.
With its location near the lighthouse, Michaud hopes that the event will draw in 20,000 spectators, with conservative estimates that around 10,000 audience members from outside the community will be drawn to the event, supporting the tourism economy. Michaud also hopes the event will also spur more sports tourism, which not only brings funding and jobs to the ciyt, but also provides more opportunity to involve young people in sports, he said.
“I believe Long Beach’s best days are ahead— It’s not just a belief, it’s my goal,” Richardson said during the event.