OUR MISSION & HISTORY
In 2020, as we entered our 40th anniversary year of service to the people of Los Angeles County, the LAEDC adopted an updated vision statement which now inspires our work: A reimagined Los Angeles regional economy… growing, equitable, sustainable, and resilient – that provides a healthy and high standard of living for all.
LAEDC has enjoyed a successful and beneficial 40-year partnership with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, whose 1981 board motion led to LAEDC’s formation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation, with the recognition that such an enterprise could help the County improve economic conditions throughout the region by attracting and leveraging private sector financial and intellectual resources alongside public resources to “help ameliorate conditions of poverty, dependency, chronic unemployment and underemployment, rising community tensions and social and economic disparity in areas of chronic poverty”.
The programs and initiatives employed by the LAEDC have evolved significantly over the decades from initial industry cluster initiatives to support the county’s signature entertainment and manufacturing industries, which included managing the county’s industrial development bond program for a time to today’s much more comprehensive and diverse set of economic and workforce development initiatives.
To help grow the economy, you must first know the economy, and in 1991 Jack Kyser joined LAEDC and served as our first economist, which led LAEDC to increasingly prioritize accurate information that informs the public on important regional economic issues of our time. In the past two decades, the LAEDC has built one of the region’s most trusted and respected economic research teams, now known as the LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics, which has published hundreds of influential reports on our local industries, labor markets, international trade, sources of foreign direct investment, large scale development projects and public policy initiatives. For example, LAEDC’s ex ante and post ante analyses of the California Film and TV Tax Credit Program informed legislators as they initially designed, established and later evaluated and reauthorized the incentive program, which has helped keep thousands of high-paying jobs in California. Many other LAEDC studies have similarly helped serve the public interest.
Because you can’t create jobs without thriving employers, LAEDC founded our award-winning Business Assistance Program in 1996, which serves all corners of the county with one of the most effective teams in the nation. A recipient of best-in-class awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the California Association of Local Economic Development (CALED), the LAEDC business assistance team has attracted, retained or helped create nearly a quarter million direct jobs for county residents in firms directly assisted by LAEDC. When including indirect and induced economic benefit of those projects, the impact of our work has been widely felt by area residents over the nearly 24-year history of the program. This work is provided at no charge, and LAEDC has scaled up our efforts during times of crisis after the dot-com crash, after the financial crisis of 2008, and now in the devastating economic wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The program assists diverse entrepreneurs and business executives with strategies to capture incentives, access capital, contain costs, open new markets, train workers, and expedite permits and expansion.
In an effort to boost economic development activity generated by LA’s global connections, the World Trade Center Los Angeles (WTCLA) became of subsidiary of LAEDC in 2001 and shifted its focus to foreign direct investment attraction which has brought the region billions of dollars of investment; new technologies, enterprises and facilities; and thousands of well-paying jobs for area residents. As one example, the electric bus and vehicle manufacturer BYD was recruited by the team to build a U.S. manufacturing facility in LA County, which now employs many hundreds of well-paid workers and set a foundation for a boom in EV industry activity in the region.
In more recent years, LAEDC returned to its roots in industry cluster development with efforts focused on boosting the hiring capacity of rapidly evolving, export-oriented industries in which the county has a strong competitive advantage, including aerospace and space commercialization, entertainment and digital media, health and biosciences, and advanced transportation. LAEDC formed regional industry councils for these four industries, which today serve as important relational infrastructure to keep these industries strong and hiring.
LAEDC has utilized its trusted brand and convening power to lead creation of the Strategic Plan for Economic Development for LA County, by facilitating consensus between hundreds of private, public, and community stakeholder groups and thousands of individuals over the past 10 years, with the initial Plan developed in 2009 covering 2010-2014, and the more recent plan developed in 2015 covering 2016-2020.
About 10 years ago, due to the changing nature of work and factors like automation, globalization and even climate change requiring a greater focus on workforce development strategy in the region, LAEDC began publishing research and analysis on the region’s labor supply and the demand for skilled workers in key industries. This has increasingly supported productive systems change, such as LAEDC’s partnership with 19 community colleges in the Center for a Competitive Workforce (CCW), to ensure a more robust, future-forward and inclusive talent development pipeline. LAEDC’s partnership with college faculty, deans and presidents, coupled with its long history working with industry, enables validation of research findings, refinement of curriculum development and creates work-based learning opportunities and hiring pathways for a diverse body of students, improving equitable access to career opportunity.
LAEDC has also presented hundreds of public forums on the economy and the future of key industries and their labor markets over the years so that public and private decision makers and members of the media and general public can participate in the conversation about the data, analysis and insights they need to make more informed decisions for themselves, their enterprises and the public they serve. One of those annual events is LAEDC’s Eddy Awards, which is celebrating 25 years of honoring those individuals, businesses, universities and cities that are making extraordinary contributions to economic development, a tradition that started in 1995, with its Most Business Friendly City award added to the gala starting in 2008. The Eddy Awards also serves as LAEDC’s annual fundraiser to support the operating capital needed to fulfill our mission.
LAEDC’s work continues to be guided and funded by a broad, diverse and engaged group of stakeholders who include appointees of each County Supervisor, representatives of dozens of cities, leaders of dozens of higher educational institutions and nonprofits, and key executives from hundreds of businesses, large and small, who are increasingly committed to more equitable and inclusive growth in our economy. It is representatives of these civic stewards, along with LAEDC staff, who work together to define LAEDC’s vision, mission and values that are reflective of the current and evolving social, economic and environmental conditions in the Los Angeles region.
LAEDC’s staff is humbled to be celebrating 40 years of public service as we pursue our mission to reinvent our economy to collaboratively advance growth and prosperity for all.