By: Angela Amirkhanian and Michael Cooney
Among leaders of the five cities profiled here, there appears to be a feeling of optimism and confidence in the opportunities opening up in 2014. Perhaps the biggest news is Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s announced intention to cut or eliminate business taxes in the city. Now, if those in control in Sacramento would follow Garcetti’s lead, perhaps California could lose its deserved reputation as one of the most business UN-friendly states.
City of Los Angeles
My priority as mayor is to get our city back to basics. That means focusing on creating and providing efficient and effective city services, which in turn generate economic growth and create a better quality of life for all Angelenos. If we focus on the basics, we leverage our inherent competitive advantages to ensure 2014 is a year of economic growth.
We are the western capital of the United States, the northern capital of Latin America and the Eastern capital of the Pacific Rim. We are a place of unparalleled creativity with a diverse, vibrant and entrepreneurial population. As mayor, I will work on bringing these ingredients together for a better Los Angeles.
As the city’s CEO, I’ve required every department head to reapply for his or her job and am holding departments accountable to verifiable metrics -- metrics that are based on what outcomes we want and not how many forms were filed. These metrics are being put online so that Angelenos can hold my administration accountable, too.
I am also working to cut the city’s business tax. By abolishing the tax in a prudent way, we can make sure Los Angeles is no longer the highest taxed city in the county, but a city that is open for business.
We are also going to keep enhancing our port and airport to boost international trade. We cannot rest on our laurels, so I will ensure we are marketing ourselves around the world as the best place to do business.
City of Glendale
Last year, I reported that there was a palpable feeling of excitement in Glendale. Our micro-economy was improving, and economic indicators were trending positively. I’m happy to report that, since then, commercial investments have increased even more in Glendale.
Our three main initiatives—improving Class A office occupancy rates, developing an “18-Hour City” by improving vibrancy throughout from morning to late night, and improving service to businesses—have paid off. New Fortune 500 companies like Avery Dennison and Whole Foods have settled in Glendale. New housing developments are strengthening the urban population. Major destination stores, restaurants and nightlife venues are flourishing in Glendale. And, we’ve worked hard to improve our entitlement processes and customer service to be more responsive to business needs.
The result is that all economic indicators are showing positive growth. Commercial property occupancy is now outperforming the region, sales tax revenues continue to grow, and Glendale property values are rebounding nicely from the recession.
Still, we face many challenges as a municipality. With skyrocketing costs to provide employee benefits, increased costs to deliver quality utility service, and dramatically decreased resources due to the demise of Redevelopment, we cannot ignore the potential dangers ahead. We continue to work aggressively to circumvent fiscal crises with razor sharp operational efficiency and pro-active human resources management. We’re cautiously optimistic!
For more information, visit www.ci.glendale.ca.us
City of Burbank
My tenure as city manager in Burbank just began in August of this year, so I am pleased to represent the achievements of community leaders who have preceded me. Burbank is a proud, progressive community, as evidenced by the longevity of businesses and residents who locate here. And befitting a great community, newcomers are also welcomed and supported. I feel fortunate to have landed in a business environment that is poised for the future and actively looking for those who wish to invest in our collective success.
Burbank is blessed to enjoy several vibrant and diverse business communities, including a constantly revitalizing Downtown, the vibrant Empire Center, the Bob Hope Airport area, the charming Magnolia Park & Toluca Lake retail areas and, of course, the City’s well-known Media District. Burbank continues to boast a wide range of business and employment opportunities ranging from state-of-the-art corporate to local, small business environments. Simultaneously, we celebrate the strength of our schools, our medical community and our nonprofit service providers.
Our mission at City Hall is to nurture these extraordinary business opportunities while balancing the quality of life that our residents and business owners value so deeply. We care about how the City looks and how we operate. We support our businesses because they employ our residents, participate in our community dialogue, support our schools and nonprofits, and actively help us keep the Burbank brand promise. I look forward to my future in the Burbank community and offer the support of the City Council and my talented staff in assisting those new and existing business investors who may wish to consider Burbank for expansion or as a new home.
City of Pasadena
Pasadena’s 2014 economic outlook looks promising. Starting in the first week of the New Year, Pasadena will proudly host the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, the 100th Rose Bowl Game, and the 2014 National BCS Championship. These events will have a tremendous economic impact on the region by way of visitor spending and will once again draw international attention to the greater Pasadena area.
In 2013, Pasadena was ranked nationally as one of the most creative cities and one of the best places to live. The investment community seems to agree with that assessment. Current construction activities include a 150,000 sq. ft. premier office project adjacent to the Pasadena Playhouse, and the first Dusit branded hotel in the United States. This internationally recognized hotel will be located at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard at Lake Avenue and is expected to open in spring of 2014. First quarter of 2014 will also witness the grand opening of One Green, a project in Old Pasadena that will house tech companies along with ground floor retail tenants like 85 Degrees.
Additionally, five other hotel projects are being reviewed, potentially adding 800 additional rooms. In addition to hotel rooms, over 1.5 million square feet of new housing and commercial development is being proposed. Spread across several sites, these projects are presenting opportunities for both new jobs and new housing choices near Pasadena’s light rail stations and downtown dining amenities.
Pasadena’s innovative ecosystem is home to over a hundred tech and design companies changing the way we live, work, connect and play. The Innovate Pasadena organization, with support from City Hall, Caltech and Art Center, will continue to foster an environment ripe for high-tech entrepreneurial pursuits.
For more information on business and economic opportunities, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/economicdevelopment or call (626) 744-4660.
City of Alhambra
Alhambra continues to be the “gateway” to lucrative business opportunities in the west San Gabriel Valley, as well as a highly desirable community to live and work in as substantiated by Livability.com., which named Alhambra among its 2014 “Top 100 Best Places to Live” in the United States. Alhambra placed 21st nationally and fifth among all of California’s 482 cities and towns. The city was noted for its strength of diversity resulting from a strong business environment including a popular international restaurant row, vibrant Asian business district, award-winning schools, and the best attributes of urban living—including health care. This award follows on the heels of being named the “2010 Most Business Friendly City in Los Angeles County” by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
The pace of Alhambra’s celebrated economic development will continue into 2014 with more potential groundbreakings and the completion of three ongoing downtown mixed-use commercial/residential projects – the Alhambra Pacific Plaza, Main Street Collection and Casita de Zen. To increase downtown parking, construction is set to begin later in the year on the new North First Street Parking Structure. Staff is also working to secure future development agreements for the Alhambra Place property at Main and Garfield and the former International Extrusion site in the vicinity of Fremont Avenue, while assisting developers to identify and secure strong national or local tenants.
To ensure that Alhambra retains its elite status as a best place to live, advocacy continues on the City’s “Close the Gap” campaign to complete the 710 Freeway, which would improve our local regional freeway system and take almost 87,000 vehicles off of local Alhambra streets daily, while improving the entire region’s air quality, and helping to protect and preserve our neighborhoods.
For more information, visit www.cityofalhambra.org or call 626-570-5030.