We are eager and hopeful about the role government can play to fuel the innovation economy. In regions where technology companies are succeeding, like San Francisco and New York, there has been recognition of the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between local government and its tech sector. Local government can help create the conditions for the technology industry to grow and thrive in Los Angeles through things such as business tax reform, investment in L.A.’s growing tech hubs and better use of workforce development dollars in the tech industry. A focus on technology can also make government more efficient, transparent and increase civic participation through the promotion of open data initiatives, civic hackathons and better use of online and app-based city services.
We hope to be part of a growing groundswell of civic leaders contributing to the growth of the local tech sector. Signs are that this is happening. Look at the tremendous work by the industry leaders who make up the Mayor’s Council on Innovation & Industry, which has published a manifesto on how government and the tech sector can work to promote this emerging industry. Or our tech-friendly mayor-elect, Eric Garcetti, who during his campaign proposed many innovative ideas, from hiring a chief innovation officer and developing a Compstat-style system to measure and manage city departments to supporting a network of incubators and working with local universities to commercialize their technologies – and, as a councilman, provided the very first grant to launch the Bixel Exchange.
So, you might ask, what does a 125 year-old organization get out of working with a newly growing technology industry? Los Angeles has always been a city of strivers, of world-class innovators and boundless creativity. Whether it was the birth of the entertainment industry or the growth of aerospace, the invention of the hula hoop or the fortune cookie, the chamber has historically played a role in supporting innovation and building those industries. So for us, moving Los Angeles into the future is just getting back to basics.
Sean Arian is the vice president for sustainability, innovation and emerging technology at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. He previously served as director of economic development under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.