It’s good times for big construction contractors around town, as our annual list and the accompanying coverage that starts on page 1 indicates. Local billings for the 50 on the list, which you’ll find on page 12, rose 15 percent last year, topping $8 billion. … Skanska ranked No. 13, with $243 million in local billings, and Director of Diversity Mel Jones told a crowd of a couple of hundred at a sponsored Diversity Summit hosted by the Business Journal at the Omni Hotel last week that the company has plenty of work but could use some help on making sure it maintains a vibrant base of subs and other vendors able to meet the demands of the market. “Education is the one thing we don’t have enough of,” said Jones, adding that Skanska and fellow big contractors such as Turner – which ranks No. 1 on this week’s list – increasingly devise and run their own training programs for subs and other vendors. … Visit laedc.org to see how the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. and 19 community colleges hope to bolster the region’s game on education and training with the Center for a Competitive Workforce. … Give Ilse Metchek a call if you want to know more about what the downtown-based California Fashion Association she runs is doing to make sure there’s an effective communications hub for the local apparel trade. Metchek is working on a searchable directory that she expects to ultimately feature about 7,000 apparel and allied companies statewide. She says she’s already identified 1,100 in L.A., and that’s just the city limits, with the rest of Los Angeles County to go. “We’re that big and nobody knows we’re here,” Metchek says. ... Sullivan Says: Metchek remains among the best at pairing a dramatic data point with hyperbole for maximum effect. … You can’t take any businesses for granted – that much is made clear with a couple of other front-page stories that combine to illustrate how the dynamic nature of the L.A. marketplace is a two-way street. Reporter Henry Meier’s piece fills us in on RBB Bancorp, which specializes in the Chinese-American business community and just became the newest publicly traded outfit in these parts. His colleague Howard Fine checks in with the oldest company around here – aerospace supplier Ducommun – which plans to moves its HQ to Orange County, although it will keep a raft of manufacturing operations on this side of the county line. … Another L.A.-O.C. connection can be found in our front-page piece on Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s plans to continue a family tradition of supporting the arts in L.A., this time with a gallery-studio-artist-in-residence program. … The Gaviñas are another family with a second generation that’s changing things up, in their case with the gorgeous new Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana, a restaurant that brings a Spanish-influenced Caribbean sense of style to the ground floor of the Spring-Arcade Building downtown. It’s the first shop for Vernon-based F. Gaviña & Sons Inc., which roasts the Gaviña Gourmet Coffee brand for wholesale, Don Francisco’s for retail at grocers or online, and Café La Llave espresso as a Latino market specialty. The new restaurant also bridges eras, with Lenora Gaviña overseeing the effort, leading a crew of the family’s next generation in the new direction.
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