Advances in technology and the expansion of global markets have transformed entire industries and changed the face of business and commerce in Long Beach. While careers and jobs continue to evolve, many of our families continue to struggle to make ends meet. As a city, we need to be intentional with our actions and ensure every resident in every neighborhood is prepared to take on the jobs and economic opportunities of today and the future.

 

That’s why I am launching Everyone In, an initiative designed to promote a local economy that includes and benefits every Long Beach resident, no matter their race, gender, age, socioeconomic or housing status, or criminal history.

 

In Long Beach, Latino and Native American residents are five times more likely to live in high poverty neighborhoods. Two times as many African American and Latino women are working full-time and still living 150% below the poverty line. African American and Latino homeownership is 50% less than white households. Fewer than 15% of Asian and African American residents have access to the resources needed to own a business.

 

The Everyone In initiative will set out to increase access to capital through re-evaluating banking and financial services, create pathways to homeownership, modernize government contracts and procurement to increase local benefit, and cultivate job training and development programs that promote career pathways for every resident.

 

Our city has already begun taking steps on much of this very key work. We’ve also shown a commitment to fairness and inclusion by creating the Office of Equity to ensure every Long Beach neighborhood is treated fairly when it comes to health, city investment, and services. The Everyone In initiative expands upon this work to ensure all of our residents have economic opportunities.

 

I’m confident this initiative will succeed because we are already doing this work in North Long Beach.

 

We’ve created a new business improvement district in a non-traditional location and invested in our infrastructure to set the stage for a new “Main Street” in North Long Beach. We’ve helped small businesses improve their storefronts to attract new customers. This investment in our corridors has contributed to the Uptown PBID’s 6.7% increase in sales tax since 2014. Finally, with the PATH young adult diversion program, we’ve created programs that give second chances to young people who want to improve their lives. These are a few examples of things we can do to expand economic opportunity to every segment of our community.

 

By embracing the Everyone In initiative, I am confident we will expand upon the work being done in North Long Beach.

 

The Everyone In initiative will begin with two essential steps: analyze our city’s economy for equity performance and establish an innovative method for providing capital to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

 

First, we will ask our city council to make a commitment to addressing the economic disparities in Long Beach. We will direct our city’s Economic Development Department and Commission to embark on a listening tour engaging underrepresented groups such as businesses owned by people of color, women, and Millennials.

 

We will then seek the means to create an economic equity profile that provides us with a better understanding of the challenges our communities face. This profile will serve as a marker for us to track progress and move toward a more prosperous economy.

 

Second, we will focus on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. Small businesses are the backbone of our city’s economy, accounting for 86.8% of all businesses in Long Beach. However, access to capital continues to be a challenge for entrepreneurs.

 

That’s why we’re proposing to partner with the Long Beach Community Foundation and the Local Initiative Support Corporation to make Long Beach a “Kiva City.” Kiva is a non-profit, innovative online microfinance platform that provides borrowers the opportunity to apply for crowdfunded loans of up to $10,000 with a 0% interest rate. Across the United States, 16 cities have been designated as a “Kiva City” and Kiva has crowdfunded more than 2.4 million loans totaling over $1 billion worldwide.

 

I believe this will be an innovative tool that will help provide new pathways to opportunity and start more small businesses in Long Beach.

 

Everyone In will transform the lens in which we view economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for all of Long Beach’s residents. By investing in our community, we’ll be able to create quality local jobs that provide pathways to the middle class and can’t be outsourced. We’ll increase economic security and mobility for vulnerable families and workers. Most importantly, we will cultivate homegrown talent through a strong cradle-to-career pipeline.

 

Let’s work together to ensure every community, every resident, and every business is included in our city’s prosperity. It’s time to bring Everyone In.

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