By: Angela Amirkhanian
Over the past few months, Business Life Magazine attended many events and meetings and listened to many experts discussing the State of our Economy, Fiscal Cliff, Affordable Care Act, Pension Reform, Health Care, Urban Development, Transportation, Workforce Initiatives, Housing, Water & Electric Utilities and much more. We are aware that the events of the Presidential elections have and will play a key role in the surrounding regions and their decision makers.
City Managers from Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Monrovia and Alhambra were asked to discuss their strategies, plans and outlook for the coming year and how they would meet the new challenges.
As we wind down from the elections and adjust to new laws and state mandates, where does their crystal ball see us going from here? What challenges and opportunities do they see that will impact the business and city residents? What is their outlook on the economy, the fiscal cliff tax concerns, pension funds, increasing cost of utilities, motivating development and transportation, along with other specific business issues that they see impacting 2013?
The following is the City Manager’s outlook for the coming year, impact of this year’s elections and information on new plans and developments.
City of Alhambra
Thankfully, the unraveling of redevelopment hasn’t precluded Alhambra from cultivating new economic development opportunities, including pioneering a fresh approach to development with the incorporation of the new Alhambra Economic Development Corporation. This will enable city staff to move forward with new projects comparable to those of the city’s former redevelopment agency.
Alhambra has also been bustling with construction projects and new businesses openings. A mixed-use project, the Main Street Collection (410 W. Main Street), is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013, and the new Los Angeles Community Development Commission headquarters (700 W. Main St.) is a newly completed office complex soon to be occupied by the Commission’s 500+ employees. Two additional mixed-use projects are planned for a spring groundbreaking: Casita de Zen (Third & Main) and the Alhambra Pacific Plaza (southeast corner of Main & Third).
Additional businesses locating to Alhambra in 2012 include several eateries (the Dog Haus, Hot Red Bus, Grill ‘Em All and Vino at Trio’s), banks (Chase and Wells Fargo), Howards Appliances, Kia of Alhambra, 58 Facets Jewelry, the Fit Factor and Southern California Edison Data Center. In early 2013, openings will include Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar and Solestage.
Development agreements are in the works for a mixed-use, 180,000 square foot retail/residential complex on property, formerly owned by International Extrusion in the Fremont Corridor; a new project at Date & Commonwealth consisting of two nationally-known fast food drive-through restaurants, additional eateries and retail uses; and a major box retail center to replace the former Alhambra Place Shopping Center at Main & Garfield. Beyond economic development and job creation, the City is working to expand its Neighborhood Watch program and encourage support for completion of the 710 Freeway.
At year’s end came news that Julio Fuentes, long-time City Manager, has accepted a job offer to become City Manager of Santa Clara (CA) starting in February 2013. Under his leadership, the city’s economic development and long-term financial stability have been a top priority. His strong leadership, business acuity and negotiation skills have been instrumental in the city’s development and strength. During his 20 years of service with Alhambra, he has successfully worked to maintain and improve public safety and the delivery of core services. At the time of this publishing, a successor had not yet been named.
For more information visit www.cityofalhambra.org or call 626-570-5007.
City of Burbank
Interim City Manager
Entering 2013, Burbank has positioned itself to weather an economic recovery that, at times, seems to move at a snail’s pace. As the interim City Manager hired to guide Burbank through the first half of the new year, I can tell you that there are plenty of signs that, the “Media Capital of the World” is poised to thrive.
Burbank’s real estate market confirms that people simply want to live here and take advantage of the outstanding schools, low crime rate, and some of the highest levels of services found in any city.
What better endorsement of Burbank’s successful business climate than IKEA’s announced plans to build a bigger and even more user friendly store on South San Fernando Boulevard? It’s a plan that will bolster the surrounding neighborhood, while creating exciting development opportunities at IKEA’s current site next to the Burbank Town Center.
And in 2013, look for a strong push to promote Burbank as a travel and tourism destination. A convenient airport with rail access, studio tours, and a thriving downtown offer plenty of choices for the traveler who can also take advantage of Burbank’s easy access to visit other Southern California attractions.
Burbank has weathered the economic storm thanks to the City’s solid foundation and courage to embrace new technology. As we optimistically look toward a brighter economic future, the good times are no longer in the rear view mirror; they are just around the corner.
For more information visit www.burbankca.gov or call 818-238-5850.
City of Glendale
There is a palpable feeling of excitement in Glendale. Our local economy is improving and our key economic indicators are trending positively. Like a one-city WPA, we are getting people back to work with a nearly unprecedented period of growth and private investment. And though a mix of macroeconomic issues – from the State of California’s precarious budget situation to the federal government’s “Fiscal Cliff” to crises in Europe and the Middle East – temper our confidence, our cautious optimism cannot be extinguished. Like signposts on a treacherous road, each milestone we reach and surpass gives a growing assurance that we are making our way through difficult times.
If left to our own devices, Glendale can secure its future. International powerhouses like Disney and Nestle form the leading edge of a diverse and dynamic employment base. Our retail core is anchored by international automakers and chain stores, supported by a regional visitor base, and our real estate developments are being fueled by high-stakes multi-national investment portfolios.
Clearly, we will know we are out of harm’s way only when we reach safety. Thus, we have no choice but to do all that we can to maximize our potential as a City and a destination. Our best resource is the extremely dedicated team I have the privilege of managing. We are taking these challenges head on by moving forward to attract new companies, by improving service to existing businesses, and promoting vibrancy in the City. I believe we’re on the right track.
For more information visit www.ci.glendale.ca.us.
City of Monrovia
Although 2012 was a year of financial challenges, 2013 will provide the City of Monrovia with greater financial stability and a clearer concept of the work ahead. I am optimistic for our future. We have renewed development interest and our sales tax revenue is trending up. Also, we are engaging our entire community in a strategic planning process to ensure that we are using our financial resources wisely and with maximum impact.
Monrovia is a special community, supporting a wide variety of business interests, from high tech aerospace to small, “Main Street” retailers. We are working hard to ensure that all of our businesses know how much we appreciate their presence and value their contributions to our community.
The dissolution of Monrovia’s Redevelopment Agency in 2012 was a blow. It eliminated one of our primary tools to attract and retain local businesses and ensure that our residents could benefit from high-paying local jobs. But, Monrovia’s Economic Development Team quickly transitioned into a new mode of supporting and assisting our businesses. Our staff has conducted nearly 200 business visits in 2012, talking to business owners and managers about how we can work with them to assist where we can and make sure that we are not impeding their growth and progress. This relationship building has allowed us to better understand our local businesses’ challenges and to start to develop business-to-business connections that provide mutual benefits. In 2013, we will continue to build on these foundational efforts, creating an atmosphere that allows our local businesses to not only prosper, but to thrive.
For more information visit www.ci.monrovia.ca.us or call 626-932-5550.
City of Pasadena
Pasadena in 2013 will be a year of dynamic motion as the City creates new opportunities for sustainable economic growth and vitality. The recently completed assessment by Pasadena’s Economic Development Task Force has helped identify existing strengths and establish several important goals and objectives to foster long-range economic prosperity through workforce development, retail and dining, technology and tourism.
Tremendous economic and business opportunities exist in Pasadena, home to some of the nation’s premier academic and professional institutions. During the coming year and beyond, Pasadena will build on its status to attract more quality jobs with future growth potential. Those efforts include the City launching plans to fuse technical creativity with entrepreneurial energy through the creation of a new “Innovation Council.” Led by many of Pasadena’s technology savvy entrepreneurs; the group is forging strategic partnerships to advance a new generation of home-grown, high-tech start-up companies.
Pasadena’s local economy, meanwhile, is simply buzzing from the wide range of office leases recently signed in 2012 for headquarter relocations and operational expansions in software, finance, engineering and design businesses. The rapid pace of prime office space being snapped up in Pasadena is expected to continue in 2013 along with a positive, domino effect boosting sales at local restaurants and retail stores. Commercial leases signed this year include Western Assets, Green Dot Corporation, Northern Trust Bank, Guidance Software, Jacobs Engineering and OpenX.
The City will continue to invest in its infrastructure as part of a long-term commitment to bolstering a strong and local economy. Investments in public roads, transportation, public safety and parks will remain a priority for civic leaders who wish to maintain Pasadena’s high quality of life and municipal services.
The much-needed renovation of the Rose Bowl Stadium will help preserve this National Historic Landmark while integrating modern stadium amenities to enhance the fan experience and keep “America’s Stadium” economically viable for generations to come. With these and other activities, City Hall is supporting the local economic engine that directly contributes to making Pasadena one of the best places to live, work, learn and do business in California.
For more information about business and economic opportunities available in Pasadena, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/economicdevelopment or call 626-744-4660.