Governmental and business leaders convened in Los Angeles on December 2, 2010 for the first-ever regional summit focused solely on strengthening Southern California’s economy. This groundbreaking event was convened by the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), to develop an economic growth strategy in conjunction with the cities, counties and business leaders of Southern California. SCAG is the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, representing 190 cities and over 19 million residents, in an area encompassing more than 38,000 square miles in six counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial and Ventura. The region has been battered during the recent recession with over 980,000 jobs lost. SCAG’s Regional Council is concerned about the sluggish economic recovery in the region. The Goal of the Summit was to identify and discuss next steps for immediate state partnership opportunities that will have the greatest impact on expediting job growth in Southern California.
SCAG engaged prominent economists from throughout the region to gather economic data, and met with over 300 key business leaders, to develop a Regional Economic Recovery Strategy. Initial findings from this research and outreach were presented at the Summit, which focused on revealing the top hurdles to job growth, identifying economic opportunities for the region, and discussing what elected officials and business leaders can do to speed the recovery. Several key issue areas were explored including: the number of businesses that have relocated out of California since the recession began; the future of the manufacturing sector; the realistic capacity for growth from “green” jobs; the impact of retail sales tax on local government’s budgets; and the effect of taxes and fees on regional businesses.
A handful of clearly defined Action Steps were identified, which can be taken during the next Legislative Session. Governor-Elect Jerry Brown and the State Leaders will be requested to reject legislation that negatively impacts businesses for 3 years, while asking the Legislature to grant the Governor the same emergency powers as for a natural disaster, until the state’s unemployment rate falls to 7%. Additional recommendations fall into three primary areas:
Manufacturing Action Steps to help retain and expand the region’s high-tech manufacturing and R&D base;
“Beat” the Panama Canal Expansion Action Steps aimed at promoting and expanding our international trade infrastructure; and
Entertainment Industry Steps to accelerate and extend the successful State Film Incentive Program.
SCAG intends to have draft state legislation in support of agreed upon Action Items introduced in January 2011. A similar Summit with Federal leaders will be held in March 2011 on suggested federal actions to spur job growth. At SCAG’s General Assembly in May 2011, business leaders, city, state and federal officials will receive the Draft Southern California Growth Strategy. Throughout the process, SCAG vows to continue to engage regional economic experts and collaborate with impacted and invested stakeholders.