Anyone who thought Mayor Richard Riordan's innovative Genesis L.A. economic development program would die once he left office would be greatly mistaken.
Not only is the program not dying, but a new publicity campaign has been launched for it and another fund to assist inner-city small businesses is being added.
"It helps to have the government involved in creating jobs and economic opportunity," said Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo. "We can instill confidence in investors that money can be made in poor neighborhoods, help them with permits, and then get out of the way."
The project's newest for-profit venture, The Genesis L.A. Growth Capital Fund, is in the process of raising between $50 million and $100 million to invest in early-stage companies and to assist businesses needing to expand.
Deborah La Franchi, president and chief executive of Genesis L.A., said the new fund is expected to begin making investments within the next six months. The new venture is designed to concentrate on funding manufacturing, industrial, multimedia and biotech businesses.
"We have tentatively chosen two firms to operate the fund," said La Franchi. "One investment firm will handle early-stage investing and another will assist companies that need to expand."
The firms chosen to operate the fund will be announced within the next couple of weeks, she said.
The nonprofit Genesis L.A. Economic Growth Corp., which oversees both the growth venture fund and a separate $85 million real estate fund, has also begun a citywide publicity campaign.
TBWA Chiat/Day Inc., the L.A. area's top-billing advertising company, is masterminding the public awareness campaign for Genesis L.A. and doing the work at cost.
Account Director Maggie Silverman said the company has a history of working with the Mayor's Office and is happy to perform any services that might promote Genesis L.A. and its cause.Billboard campaign
The first step of a citywide public awareness campaign for Genesis L.A. kicked off a couple of weeks back with the installation of six cryptic billboards around town that read, "Visionaries Needed" and feature the organization's name.
La Franchi said the billboard campaign is the first phase of a campaign to generate buzz among potential sponsors, investors and developers.
"This really is just to heighten awareness inside L.A.," she said. "It's to get everyone thinking about it."
The billboards will be followed by a print media campaign targeting companies that La Franchi and others at Genesis L.A. think could be interested either in investing in the program or developing one of the target sites.
Silverman said that Eller Media Co. has provided vacant billboard space gratis, but that the advertisements could come down as soon as a paying customer wants the space.
Genesis L.A., created by the Mayor's Office in 1999, was designed to stimulate economic growth in neglected and under-served Los Angeles neighborhoods. After Riordan leaves office this summer, that will carry on through the Genesis L.A. Economic Growth Corp., a nonprofit corporation.
"We have designed (Genesis) to have a life of its own beyond any administration," said Delgadillo, who spearheaded the program for the Mayor. "The reality is that both Jim Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa have said they would continue to support the program."
As for any future involvement by Mayor Riordan in Genesis, Delgadillo said that is still being discussed.
Genesis L.A. does some of the same things that have proven valuable in past redevelopment efforts. For instance, its relationship with the Mayor's Office allows Genesis to expedite permitting and entitlements. And it identifies and coordinates use of many existing government programs, such as brownfield grants and empowerment zone tax credits.
The corporation also oversees the for-profit Genesis L.A. Real Estate Fund, which is managed by Shamrock Capital Advisors, a division of Shamrock Holdings of California Inc. That $85 million fund provides debt and equity financing in and around Los Angeles at competitive rates.
"Genesis has always known the Mayor would be leaving office," said George Buchler, president of Shamrock Holdings. "All of the infrastructure has been in place for a long time for the program to be successful, no matter what the political climate."
Principal investors in the real estate fund are Bank of America; Wells Fargo Bank, Washington Mutual Inc., Shamrock Holdings and City National Bank.Job creation
La Franchi said that all Genesis funds will help solve one of the major problems of inner-city job creation in Los Angeles, which is the high cost of land development. Genesis L.A. attempts to put vacant, blighted and contaminated properties back into productive use.
"City Hall can view Genesis L.A. as an extension of itself in order to get these projects done," she said. "Once the Mayor leaves office, we will continue to work very closely with the next administration and with the City Council."
Genesis recently invested $3 million in a nearly 300,000-square-foot office project in Hollywood. The $60 million Studio Center Hollywood project involves the renovation of the former ABC Television studio complex at 1313 Vine St.
In another deal, local development company LCOR Public/Private Inc. recently earned city approval on an $80 million development project at Genesis L.A.'s 12-acre site at Pico and San Vicente boulevards.
That project designed to be a 440,000-square-foot, double-deck structure sporting a Home Depot atop a Costco store will involve the on-site relocation of a bus terminal shared by Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. Plans also call for restaurants and peripheral retail attractions.
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