At its April 4 meeting, the Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to approve the draft Economic Development Blueprint.
“The Blueprint defines priorities for the city and outlines specific strategies to advance the vision of Long Beach as a hub for innovation, jobs and development,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement following the vote. “It recommends a focus on areas that will drive economic growth over the next 10 years, including key industry clusters and emerging sectors, economic inclusion, workforce development, business assistance, the development environment, quality of life, and economic leadership and cooperation.”
According to John Keisler, director of the Long Beach Economic and Property Development Department, comments, clarifications and additions asked for by councilmembers during the meeting will be incorporated into the document before returning to the economic development commission for review and finalization.
Keisler said several councilmember recommendations mainly focused on strengthening items or the implementation process. Some of the recommendations and comments are as follows:
First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez wants an emphasis on tracking key performance measures, incentivizing innovation, addressing unemployment disparities and how to better leverage music and entertainment events for economic growth.
Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce suggested recommendations by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance be considered, including the White House Housing Development Toolkit and housing affordability. Pearce also recommended online accessibility and predictability for conditional use permits and licensing, and also would like a bigger focus on live entertainment downtown.
Third District Councilmember Suzie Price stated the importance of establishing realistic performance measures, identified by implementation phases.
Fifth District Councilmember Stacy Mungo recommended the formation of an implementation committee – consisting of members from both the city council’s economic development and finance committee and its economic development commission, the chair of the Workforce Investment Board and city staff – to prioritize the initial measures.
Seventh District Councilmember Roberto Uranga said the document needs a stronger focus on air quality, transportation and mobility, as well as workforce training, jobs and living wages.
Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin said he would like a greater emphasis on creating and maintaining quality jobs, as well as tying economic development to “employment development.”
Ninth District Councilmember Rex Richardson discussed a platform for tracking entrepreneurs through the startup process.
These comments and recommendations will be added to the document and considered by the economic development commission at its April 25 meeting, according to Keisler.
“At this point, the council did not include a motion to bring it back to council,” Keisler said. “We know we will be going back with regular updates . . . [but] there’s no date set for when we will come back to council with an update.”
In an e-mail following the meeting, Pearce noted the months of hard work dedicated to creating the blueprint. She said the process included 26 public meetings, 25 individual listening sessions and discussions with 20 expert panelists. Garcia said the document is only the beginning of an ongoing discussion to improve the community and the economy.
“Our Long Beach economy is booming, and this Blueprint will advance our city’s efforts to grow a 21st century city,” Garcia said. “This is just the start of an ongoing discussion to find ways our city can help build a vibrant community, while supporting entrepreneurship, workforce development and a thriving, diverse economy.”