In a meeting at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach’s Innovation Team (i-team) unveiled their agenda for the next few years—largely, working with the city’s private, public and local sectors in innovative ways to attract, nurture and grow business talent, hopefully contributing to sustainable economic development within city borders.
In short, the team seeks to leverage Long Beach’s existing strengths, attract new businesses, and grow the city in innovative ways to “put it on the global map,” as Garcia put it.
The i-team announced five major initiatives it will be focusing on: creating an economic development blue print, building the StartupLB Tools for Business, creating a High Tech Infrastructure Plan, facilitating Branding for Business, and establishing a Long Beach Center for Innovation.
“The city has never done a cross-sector economic development plan before,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. He praised the unique approach of the i-team, with its “emphasis on a design approach” and its mission to “engage stakeholders in designing what initiatives could look like.”
As the Post previously reported, the city was able to establish its i-team through a $3 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Long Beach was one of 14 cities from around the world chosen to focus on a specific issue area and use innovative thinkers to help improve the city in creative ways.
The i-team decided that Long Beach’s area of focus would be economic development, while other cities aimed the funding at reducing homicide, homelessness and other issues.
Long Beach is part of the second wave of participating cities in these Bloomberg Philanthropies endeavor.
After meeting with 70 organizations and more than 500 individual people as part of the Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Process, the i-team compiled the five projects to improve Long Beach’s economic development infrastructure and build upon its strengths, according to i-team leader John Keisler.
“We really wanted to understand how technology can be leveraged across sectors,” said Dr. Holly Okonkwo, a UC Riverside-trained anthropologist. “How can we attract things here? How can we make them stay here?”
“All of these initiatives will require further study,” said Keisler.
The mayor and Keisler acknowledged that the economic development will focus not just on startups, but on bringing big business to Long Beach, building upon Long Beach’s strengths, which include “aviation, aerospace, healthcare” and energy, according to Garcia. Garcia cited an example of such Long Beach development momentum as Douglas Park, which has created 3,500 “good paying” jobs on site.
The first official Economic Development Blue Print will be published in 2016, and it will likely include ways to maximize cooperation between the private sector, government and educational institutions such as California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Long Beach City College (LBCC) and Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD). Afterward, the team plans on publishing an annual report based off of the blueprint year after year.
Keisler and Garcia acknowledged that incorporating diverse city elements in the economic development plan, especially all areas of the city’s socioeconomic population, would be a priority.
Garcia pointed to a digital divide within Long Beach, and said they are cognizant of this gap in technology use, and will work to bridge it.
“We don’t want to leave anyone behind,” said Garcia.
The five concrete initiatives established by the i-team are:
- Economic Development Blue Print: Producing an action plan for the city aimed at “stimulating and growing the local economy.”
- StartupLB Tools for Business: Creating online tools to guide entrepreneurs through the business startup process, increasing access to resources and reducing the business launch time, in partnership with the Economic Property Development Department.
- High Tech Infrastructure Plan: Maximize existing city assets and increase investment and quality Internet access for businesses and residents, in collaboration with the Technology and Innovation Department.
- Branding for Business: Spearhead outreach process to execute a marketing strategy that will attract and retain business investment.
- Long Beach Center for Innovation: Establish a new collaboration among academic, industry, investor and government agencies to bring innovative ideas, products and services to market.