Former Los Angeles jobs czar Austin Beutner picked up major business endorsements on Wednesday as a potential candidate for mayor.

Richard Riordan, a former mayor, and local business leader David Fleming announced their endorsements of Beutner at the produce mart downtown.

“Austin Beutner knows how to create jobs and retool our economy,” Riordan said. “When L.A. needed it most, Austin stepped up and took a leading role in putting our city’s jobs strategy back on track.”

Riordan introduced Beutner to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in late 2009 as the city was reeling from the economic downturn and Villaraigosa was trying to make job creation a focus of his second term. Beutner had recently stepped down from his role as co-chief executive of Evercore, a private equity firm.

Villaraigosa named Beutner as first deputy mayor and jobs czar in January 2010, putting him in charge of coordinating several city departments to focus on job creation. Then Villaraigosa tapped Beutner to serve as interim general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

Beutner stepped down from the Villaraigosa administration last week to focus on an exploratory campaign for the 2013 mayoral race. Villaraigosa is termed out; several other candidates are considering running to succeed him, including a handful of local politicos and shopping center magnate Rick Caruso.

Beutner is trying to position himself as the business candidate. Fleming, who joined Riordan in praising Beutner, is an attorney to downtown law firm Latham & Watkins LLP. Fleming helped launch the Los Angeles County Business Federation.

“Beutner is the best thing that’s happened to Los Angeles since Richard Riordan came along,” Fleming said. “He’s created a lot of jobs in Los Angeles that people don’t even know about. He’s made sure that companies didn’t leave and attracted other companies to Los Angeles.”

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