Economic Recovery: Local Control, Regional Collaboration

Economic Development Committee Co-Chair Chris Harrington, VP of Strategy and Business Development for Toshiba America Information Systems, welcomed at a recent committee meeting presenters Dr. Wallace Walrod, VP of Economic Development and Research for OCBC, and Jim MacLellan, Director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles. Dr. Walrod provided an update on Southern California Association of Government’s (SCAG) Economic Recovery and Job Creation Strategy, which seeks to kick start economic development opportunities at the state and regional level, identify characteristics unique to Southern California, and develop informed economic strategies to guide the region’s recovery. Between 2000 and 2007 90.5% of the state’s job growth took place in Southern California, but between 2007 and 2010, all 600,000 new jobs, plus an additional 200,000 jobs, were lost. Since 2007 more than 2,500 businesses with three or more employees have left California for more business-friendly states, taking 109,000 jobs with them. And the state continues to struggle to retain economic development programs that would incentivize doing business in California.

It is expected that California will recover these lost jobs sometime between 2016 and 2018, but Orange County can expect to recover sooner – between 2014 and 2015. Critical industries continue to include logistics, film, TV, and commercials, manufacturing, and construction. SCAG’s recommendations are guided by the mantra of local control, and regional collaboration. SCAG is actively working towards a number of goals outlined in the report, including:

  • Opposing new legislation that negatively impacts jobs
  • Eliminating regulations that inhibit project delivery
  • Halting the loss of entertainment jobs
  • Requiring an independent economic analysis for all new jobs bills
  • Adopting business friendly principles at the city and county levels
  • Developing incentives for self-help counties to complete infrastructure projects

Jim MacLellan, Director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles, presented to the committee the Port’s international and economic significance. The LA and Long Beach Ports account for one third of the country’s global trade, with international trade being LA’s largest industry. 2010 was a good year for the Port, and it is expected that 2011 will continue the trend of recovery. China is the Port’s number one trading partner, generating $115.8 billion. Los Angeles carries an advantage over other ports due to its large number of specialized service companies with an educated workforce, and population with a talent for linguistics and knowledge of international culture. The Port’s primary competition is derived from the Panama Canal, British Columbia, Mexican West Coast Ports, The Suez Canal, and other US gateways. What is needed to remain competitive is investment in infrastructure projects, including three new bridges, highways, and dock rail terminals. The Port of Los Angeles will be hosting an educational workshop in Orange County for businesses interesting in international trade, hosted by the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce, on November 17.

Chris Harrington presented to the committee an overview of Toshiba, a 136-year old global company that carries between 200 and 300 product lines, ranging from laptops to coffee makers to televisions. The $80 billion company is the world’s 39th largest manufacturer, projecting an annual growth of 10%. The company anticipates to be worth more than $100 billion by 2013. Harrington is also the company’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer; to that end, he works to develop strategies for Toshiba to “do no harm” through responsible practices, reducing energy consumption, and long-term sustainability. For more information contact Dr. Wallace Walrod, Vice President of Economic Development and Research.

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