I want to thank my colleagues for bringing this item forward. Certainly, no one on this council or the Mayor is opposed to Economic Development, because we all see it as a necessary component of expanding revenue sources for the City.
I think the public needs to be aware that there has been extensive Economic Development efforts taking place in Long Beach without an Economic Development officer – through our partnership with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (click here) which most recently helped bring AIRGAS to the Douglas Park with the leadership of Barbara Levine, Regional Manager for LA Economic Development Corporation and current President of the LB Chamber of Commerce Jerry Miller.
- The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation has in place several Strategic Advisory Committees which are focusing on the following areas:
- Business Friendly
- Green Economy
- Employment Land
- Workforce Development
- World Trade
Our own Mayor Bob Foster is the co chair of the committee on the issue of making LA County more Business Friendly.
We also need to keep in mind that at both California State University Long Beach and Long Beach City College we have numerous on going efforts to spur economic development and support of technology and small businesses.
That being said, I am concerned that we are embarking on spending funds on a new effort just weeks after we cut essential police, fire, parks and recreation, library and other services and well before we have even begun the layoffs of employees because of these cuts.
As we are yet to know the full impact of budget cuts – especially on police services – I would not want to see us spend a nickel on a new program instead of funding public safety at the needed levels.
I will support the motion asking the City Manager to report back on the start up and on going costs of an Economic Development Officer. I will however ask that the City Manager agendize a quarterly report of crime stats and a discussion of the impact of budget cuts on public safety before we authorize the expenditure of any funds for a new program.
Finally, I would recommend that we all do the following: 1) log onto crimereports.com and view the growing number of crimes reported throughout the city of Long Beach and 2) review a recent report issued by American Progress entitled: The Economic Benefits of Reducing Violent Crimes which studied 8 major cities in the US and concludes:
In today’s tight fiscal and economic environment, the mayors and city councils of every city—along with state and the federal governments—are searching for ways to reduce their spending and expand their revenues. The common challenge is to achieve sustainable fiscal conditions without hobbling government’s ability to provide the vital goods and services that most Americans expect, all without burdening businesses and families with onerous new taxes.
This analysis provides another way available to many American municipalities: Secure budget savings, higher revenues, and personal income and wealth gains by reducing violent crime rates.
This reports also points out that among several methods for reducing these crimes includes: placing additional police patrols which have been found to reduce the incidence of serious offenses in high-crime hotspots.
We will not be able to bring economic development and jobs to all part of our city until all parts of our city are safe.
So while I support this motion to receive a report on the costs of a new program, I urge my colleagues to direct any available funds into adding police patrols so that we can reduce the crime level in all of our districts.