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Economic Development Plan

Invest in Long Beach

Suzie Price’s Economic Development Plan

The financial impacts of the pandemic, at least in terms of how they affect local Long Beach businesses, are beginning to stabilize.

As a small business owner, I can tell you many are starting to bounce back from the challenges of the pandemic. We are also getting to a place where we have some reliable data in terms of our staffing and revenue. For me, the discussion about economic growth and progress for our city is about what kind of vision we have for the future of Long Beach. 

For years, we have tried to do too many things, serve too many interests, and, as a result of doing so, have stretched our city staff and our resources too far to be able to do any one thing well. 

There are two specific actions I believe we need to take to foster business development and achieve economic growth. First, we need to invest in our small business sector. Second, we must create industry specific incentives to recruit, retain and grow those sectors in Long Beach. These two actions will create job opportunities, and build an infrastructure that supports diversified housing options, child care, and a vibrancy that will move our city forward.

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Small Business Development

Over 80 percent of the business in the City Of Long Beach comes from small businesses. Small businesses create jobs, as well as provide opportunities to train people in specialty areas, teach them management and entrepreneurship skills, and offer small business owners like my husband and me the opportunity to someday expand our footprint and grow our business, ultimately creating more job opportunities here in Long Beach. 

The City of Long Beach currently examines our small businesses on a case-by-case basis with no holistic plan or approach. We treat each business license, tenant improvement application, and request for assistance on an individual basis. While this is a great start, and somewhat customized, it is not really what I would consider wrapping our arms around the biggest business sector in our city and providing an opportunity for tremendous growth and retention. In fact, Long Beach allocates no money to the specific task of recruiting and retaining businesses to the city. This needs to change if we are going to advance our city’s economic development. As Mayor, I would propose that a portion of our sales tax revenue be allocated specifically to this effort. As a city, we need to have a team in our economic development department that is specifically assigned to creating a small business strategy that serves all of Long Beach, and each unique business corridor. We need to give that team resources to do this work with partners like the Long Beach Economic Partnership and California State University, Long Beach. We need to look at the small business sector in a more comprehensive, rather than localized/individualized, way. 

The focus should start with our Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Each business improvement district in this city serves as the heart of the residential communities located immediately around them. These BIDs are vastly different in different parts of town. As a Councilmember representing multiple BIDs, I am familiar with the various challenges and opportunities BIDs face. I work with some BIDs where the benefits of urban planning and visioning are clearly being realized and other BIDs where that process is in its infancy. As we look citywide, we see some BIDs with minimal vacancy, high walkability, and intentional placemaking, while others have huge potential but are still in need further investment to create a real sense of place and community – a vibrancy – that the neighborhoods around the BID can be proud of and enjoy. Neighborhoods adjacent to BIDs that lack vision and have high vacancy rates and populations of people experiencing homelessness are impacted negatively.  As Mayor, I will engage the Long Beach Economic Partnership and work with private industry partners to invest in BIDs that need revitalization. Placemaking goals of creating safe, walkable, and attractive public serving areas is the first step in a series of actions we need to take to enhance our business corridors and our city. This first step will require a public private partnership and privately-funded sponsorships for the visioning and implementation process. I have already started the process of talking to various corporate partners in the city about this proposal and I believe that on day one as Mayor corporate sponsors for each of our business corridors in need of attention will hit the ground running.

But creating thriving business improvement districts requires more than just community visioning and beautification; they also, obviously, require businesses and low vacancy rates. We need businesses to want to invest in Long Beach and business owners to believe that opening and operating a business in Long Beach is a good bet on themselves and the future success. As a City, our communities all benefit when we foster a culture that attracts small businesses and ensures their success. Further, what neighborhood doesn’t want to see a great restaurant or shop come to their community?! As mayor, I will work to provide greater support to small businesses. There is tremendous opportunity to help small businesses grow and to train employees and business owners to put themselves in a position to earn higher wages through revenue sharing, entrepreneurship, and more. Take, for example, my own business. We employ a team of about a dozen female employees. We will happily hire male employees, as well, but since we are a beauty-based business, we have only received applications from females. Men are always encouraged to apply! But, in our business, we have a revenue sharing model with our employees that incentivizes them to stay with our team and be vested in the business’ success. We also have an on-site manager who has been trained to possibly take over the business at some point in the future or to develop the skills to start her own business. These specific opportunities that we provide our employees were discovered through research and conversations with fellow business owners in the area. A Long Beach dedicated to supporting small businesses and a city with a comprehensive plan geared towards the development and growth of small businesses would have these opportunities, as well as so many others, available at the ready for small businesses and their employees. The engagement would ideally start earlier, be more proactive, and be dedicated to bringing the resource to the business, as opposed to the business seeking out the education and resources. A small business like ours is also in a position to be able to expand its footprint. Creating multiple locations of the same business throughout our city is an opportunity that I believe many businesses would be interested in. Take, for example, the Breakfast Bar that just opened its second location on the east side of town. They are now a local chain that is growing in popularity and developing a committed customer base. This is something that I believe every business in our city would love to work towards. It is frankly a dream come true for many local business owners. Expanding our business corridors and making them attractive, safe, walkable spaces, and investing in our small business community as an industry sector are critical for the city.

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Create Economic Innovation Districts

The next area where the city has an opportunity for major growth is in the bigger industry sectors that have already established or have the potential to establish here in the City of Long Beach. Our Economic Development team will propose creating Economic Innovation Districts (EIDs) in Long Beach.

In a nutshell, EIDs are a concept that our city and many cities throughout the state of California are currently exploring. EIDs provide a financial incentive through an incremental tax sharing agreement for Industry sectors, such as medical, aerospace, maritime, and arts/entertainment to have a seat at the table when discussing business recruitment and retention. Industry stakeholders will help develop strategies to attract more companies within their sector, develop and enhance the communities in or around that sector that serve the customers. Creating a supportive infrastructure by way of building workforce housing, and childcare and training facilities are all examples of how tax revenues would be reinvested into specific industry sectors. The EID vision is designed to focus on specific industry sectors that are poised to establish within a city. Long Beach provides a tremendous opportunity for many of these sectors to develop. Obviously, we have the Port of Long Beach: one of the most successful port complexes in the world. There are so many collateral businesses that are associated with the Port of Long Beach. One in five jobs in the city currently come from the Port of Long Beach. This is definitely an industry sector that the city needs to focus on as we move towards newer technologies and ways of doing business in the goods movement industry. Aerospace is another sector that is ripe for recruitment and retention in the City of Long Beach. Our airport presents a tremendous opportunity in terms of physical space and geographic desirability for the aerospace industry and up-and-coming new technology businesses to create a homebase. We also have two hospitals in the city, as well as multiple medical device companies that are establishing their headquarters in Long Beach. Some have even gone public in the last year and are increasing their workforces by significant numbers. These are all examples of business sectors that we need to attract and retain here in the City Of Long Beach. Although the cost of living in the City of Long Beach is increasing, it still remains one of the most affordable coastal cities in the State of California. For a business, it provides a unique opportunity to attract a diverse customer base in a big city that very much feels like a small town once you enter its many different neighborhoods. 

The City of Long Beach has tremendous promise, but in order for us to move ahead, we have to stop getting in our own way and focus on these two specific economic development goals.

The Mayor’s economic development transition team will be ready to start working on day one to further define these proposals and put Long Beach on the right track.

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