Soon after Dr. Robert Garcia became mayor in July 2014, he made it a priority to restore the city’s economic development efforts, and spearheaded the revival of the Long Beach Economic and Property Development Department and the Long Beach Economic Development Commission. At his and the Long Beach City Council’s direction, the commission and a consulting group, Beacon Economics, has been moving forward with an Economic Development Blueprint – and now, it is finally coming close to fruition.
Early this year, the commission hired Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based economic research firm, to collect data on the city on which to base the blueprint. Last week, the mayor held a press event to release the draft report on the data – 40 pages outlining where the city stands economically.
Are you interested in how the city’s economy compares to the county’s, the state’s or the nation’s? Would you like to know which are its strongest industries, and its struggling ones? Are you curious about how its real estate markets are doing? Do you want to know the city’s ethnic makeup?
All that and more is detailed within the pages of the report prepared by Beacon Economics, which largely sourced its data from state and federal government studies.
“We’ve never had this much data on Long Beach before. Ever,” Garcia told the Business Journal. There are a lot of data to sift through, but the mayor has already identified some key highlights in the report. For example, “The national economy has been growing about 2% [annually]. The Long Beach economy is growing at 4%. We’re actually growing faster than the national economy,” he said.
“The city has not done in the past a great job of collecting economic data. So for the last six months we’ve been collecting data, and now we have an enormous amount of economic data to get this blueprint started,” Garcia said.
To develop the Long Beach Economic Development Blueprint, the commission and Beacon Economics, with assistance from the Long Beach Innovation Team, will review the data to fully understand its overall implications, Garcia explained. “They’re going to have a series of public meetings at the commission meetings to include some of the community,” he said. “And then they will also be doing interviews of key business leaders and business sectors.”
After the data has been sifted through, meetings have been held and interviews have taken place, a report will be developed and presented to the mayor and then brought to the city council for adoption. The final result will be a document “to guide the city’s economic development efforts for the next 10 years,” Garcia said.
“The blueprint is really about strengthening the current industries that we have – supporting them, expanding them – and then bringing in new industries and job growth, particularly in the higher wage job market around technology and around health care, around education,” Garcia said. “Those are jobs that I think we want to grow.”
The final blueprint will be completed in the first quarter of 2017, Garcia said. After that, the commission will continue to gather and review economic data two to three times a year and update the blueprint based on that information. In other words, it will be a “living document,” he explained.
Garcia reflected, “We need to also have a document that kind of brings the community together – includes the business community, includes residents – so that we can really have a strong plan moving forward.”