Not too long ago, conventional wisdom held that Los Angeles was down for the count. Businesses believed that we were decimated by the riots, the Northridge earthquake, Malibu fire, mudslides and a recession, and that any talent or industry of substance had left.
But we knew better.
As the nation focused on the region’s disasters and challenges, a group of leaders from L.A.’s public and private sectors joined forces to form the New Los Angeles Marketing Partnership. Its mission was to help restore L.A.’s image and spirit in the minds of the local and national business community, the general public and the media in other words, to speak for L.A.
Focusing on the future and drawing on the creativity and determination of forward-thinking leaders and citizens innovators, artists and entrepreneurs Los Angeles resolved to reinvent itself and recapture its global position as an economic powerhouse.
The city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and more than 120 area business leaders committed to invest in a five-year campaign with specific marketing goals and a timeline for achieving them. It was an unprecedented coalition in a region that was described in 1925 by H.L. Mencken as “19 suburbs in search of a metropolis.”
Initially conceived to correct misperceptions about Los Angeles among decision-makers and the media, the partnership created a fact-based business-to-business marketing campaign that conveyed information highlighting the story underlying our economic strength. The strategy worked as our economic recovery got underway.
While a positive image is important, our more critical challenge is in the fact that competition is fierce. Every day, businesses throughout this region are being courted by Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Texas and many others, aggressively urging them to move out of Los Angeles County.
To combat this onslaught, the partnership funded the 1-800-LA FACT hotline, which provides free access to expert business assistance for companies trying to expand or relocate in the area. They get guidance in navigating the site-selection process, permitting and other requirements of cities throughout the county. As a result, many businesses that had considered leaving have decided to stay, companies are moving here from other states and new ones are being formed.
The banners that hang throughout the community are a reminder of the true economic success of our region and the creative ideas that are generated here day in and day out ideas that have triggered new industries and unparalleled business expansion in the past four years.
Since 1994, 27,000 new businesses have been formed, creating 232,000 new jobs good jobs with an average annual pay of $30,000, which equates to $69.6 million in new personal income in the region.
These new businesses point to our incredible talent pool as well as our economic diversity toys, fashion, international trade, technology, new media and the service industries.
Our creative minds are pushing the envelope in many industries. Recognized as a world fashion center and trendsetter, the L.A. apparel industry is our No. 2 source of manufacturing jobs. Los Angeles remains the entertainment capital of the world. Our entertainment giants are global merchandisers of a wide variety of products and they have spawned hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs.
So far, the partnership and its investors have carried the banner. But each of us must speak up for Los Angeles. What we say matters, and there are many simple ways we can participate in changing the way the world views us and how we view ourselves.
Get the facts the partnership will provide you with many. Then, use these facts when speaking to clients, employees, the media, friends and relatives, in company newsletters, speeches, at trade shows any time someone criticizes L.A. or the facts need to be told.
Embrace the L.A. image and own it as only someone who lives and works here can.
Richard Riordan is mayor of Los Angeles, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke is a county supervisor and Robert J. Lowe is chairman of the New Los Angeles Marketing Partnership.