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Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023


Hd — Piecemeal


More than a year ago, this newspaper lamented that Los Angeles lacked a cohesive business community and that in ways large and small, it was holding down the city’s potential. Since then, we have seen evidence of what’s best described as ad hoc involvement business people picking and choosing the areas they wish to get involved in. It’s not exactly cohesion, but it’s not disarray either.

The approach can be seen when examining L.A.’s two big wins last week getting the 2000 Democratic National Convention and most likely an NFL expansion team. No organized business group took the lead in either effort. It was accomplished largely through the determination of a dozen or so Angelenos some business people, some elected officials who had the will (not to mention the political and financial muscle) to make it happen.

There were times when both deals could easily have fallen apart. The Democrats had concerns about any number of things: that the convention would be privately financed, that the party’s connection with Hollywood types might not be well-received, that Monica Lewinsky grew up here, and that well, it’s L.A., America’s de facto Sodom and Gomorrah.

The NFL owners also have concerns: that the financing plans for both local stadium proposals are not to their liking, that the public does not seem enthusiastic about the prospect of a new franchise, that the last L.A. football team, the Raiders, evoked negative images, and that well, it’s L.A.

Faced with these doubts some legitimate, some not those pushing for the convention and an NFL football team have spent the better part of two years trying to pitch another vision of Los Angeles: not of riots and fires and airheads, but of diversity and vitality and change. And it’s more than just talk. They can showcase Staples Center, Hollywood redevelopment, Exposition Park, the Disney Concert Hall, Playa Vista and other big-ticket signs of prosperity.

They could also reinforce the obvious: the nation’s second biggest media market (first in certain categories), the home of the entertainment industry, a major center for Internet-related businesses, the nation’s most important location for international trade and the largest center of manufacturing jobs.

Add it all up and the story is pretty compelling. Frankly, the wonder is not that L.A. wound up with a political convention and a chance for an NFL team, but that there was so much indecision before it finally happened. (Even now, many of the football owners seem unprepared to deal with L.A. despite the fact that the Coliseum proposal is being led by SunAmerica Chairman Eli Broad, one of the nation’s most successful corporate executives.)

We applaud the efforts of Broad, Ed Roski, David Geffen, Michael Ovitz and other top business leaders who have stepped forward to promote Los Angeles. But such ad hoc efforts don’t replace the need for business leadership on matters that might not be so glamorous such as transportation, housing and education needs, or private investment in L.A.’s less-vibrant communities. All too often, these challenges either are ignored or briefly highlighted only to be relegated to the back pages after the TV cameras have left.

Los Angeles is a big, messy place. There are a lot of positives to talk about, but there also are a lot of negatives that require hard work and leadership and, unlike getting an NFL football team and the convention, they cannot be accomplished on a piecemeal basis.

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