By Carol E. Schatz

Los Angeles is the trade and manufacturing center of the world's largest economy and home to hundreds of companies that are spearheading the development of new products and industries. "At its best," says The Economist magazine, "looking forward, there is no more inspiring city in America."

The heart of this economic and cultural activity can be found in Downtown Los Angeles where more than 350,000 people work. Among them are bankers and brokers, accountants and architects, engineers and retail entrepreneurs. The Downtown community includes various districts, many unique industries, and the largest government presence outside Washington, D.C. It draws tourists from around the world and offers easy access to virtually all means of transportation. Moreover, Downtown LA's crime rate is is the lowest in all of Los Angeles, lower even than cities like Seattle, Dayton and Little Rock.

Despite recent hard times, Downtown in bouncing back. Over 1.4 million square feet of office space has been recently leased to companies that have decided to relocate into Downtown. A number of exciting projects are underway such as Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings and Clippers are expected to play their 1999 seasons, the Cathedral Square project for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Disney Concert Hall.

But Downtown Los Angeles isn't strictly business. Downtown also boasts major educational and cultural institutions that have helped transform Los Angeles into a capital of international culture.

The LA Philharmonic, the Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Temporary Contemporary Museum of Art all call Downtown Los Angeles home. In addition, the Colburn School of Performing Arts which provides music and dance instruction to over 800 children now stands next to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

An emerging artist loft district on the east side of Downtown has sparked interest in revitalizing the historic core by converting old, abandoned office space into live/work spaces for artists and entrepreneurs.

Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Broadway cater to the city's diverse population and offer residents and tourists a wonderful variety of food, merchandise, and year-round activities that celebrate LA's diverse heritage. A visit to historic Olvera Street offers visitors a glimpse back in time to the birthplace of Los Angeles,El Pueblo de Los Angeles.

The University of Southern California, Mount St. Mary's College and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise offer a variety of educational opportunities to Southland residents. The recently renovated Los Angeles Central Library, which boasts over 2.5 million volumes, serves as a valuable research and learning center for the city.

As President of the Central City Association of Los Angeles, I can announce with confidence that Downtown Los Angeles is truly a great place to work, live and play.

Central City Association Makes a Difference

For 74 years, the Central City Association (CCA) has been Downtown's premier advocacy organization. The objectives of CCA are clear, the mission focused, and "making a difference" is routinely accomplished.

Dedicated to revitalizing Downtown and making LA more business friendly, by actively encouraging economic growth and retention, CCA's 250 members include headquarters companies, law firms, property owners, non-profits, hoteliers, manufacturers, retailers, developers, service firms and many others from the Downtown area.

Thanks to the hard work of CCA members and their excellent relationships with city leaders, we have accomplished much recently. One of our proudest achievements was the launch of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District in February. The largest business improvement district in California, this $3.2 million annual assessment district will make Downtown a cleaner, safer, and more vibrant center for business, culture and investment.

You may have noticed the purple-clad Downtown ambassadors and safety patrols cleaning streets and assisting Downtown visitors. The CCA continues to work hand in hand with the Business Improvement District and property owners to turn the lights back on Downtown.

Success with these and other projects and initiatives will help to ensure Downtown remains the center for commerce, government and the arts in Los Angeles and the dynamic area of diversity we are all so proud of.

Carol E. Schatz is President and CEO of the Central City Association of Los Angeles.

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