"What does the City of Los Angeles have to do with job creation?" That's a question I've been asked more than a few times as chair of the City Council's Jobs Committee. My answer always starts with, "A whole lot."
For one, the City of Los Angeles employs well over 40,000 people in public service jobs with competitive pay and benefits. We also secure jobs for 15,000 youth each summer. The city is the third largest employer in LA County. Many city workers live in Los Angeles and even those that don't spend at least a portion of their paychecks in our city, creating tens of millions of dollars in city revenue and even more economic activity. In addition, the City Council and Mayor just launched a local hiring initiative to bring 5,000 Angelenos into the city workforce in order to provide better neighborhood services for residents. Recruitment will focus on underserved communities and seek to bring in people of all backgrounds, including the homeless, formerly incarcerated and others who don't often get a fair shot at gainful employment.
The city also creates jobs by helping to stimulate the local economy. By assisting people as they open new businesses, monitoring building safety and construction, supporting neighborhood-based non-profits, and connecting all businesses to public services, the city is an integral part of the regional economy. And we are constantly searching for ways to help private businesses do business better and smarter. In all of these ways, the city is supporting job creation in nearly every sector of the local economy.
These are just some of the city functions we've been reviewing and looking to improve in the Jobs Committee recently. I want to highlight two of the bigger items we just tackled to help grow spur job growth in Los Angeles.
Today, the City Council passed my motion to create the Los Angeles Small Business Commission (LASBC), something we've never had before. The commission will be made up volunteers appointed by city officials and act as the city's liaison to the small business community. It will prioritize small business growth, act as a public forum to discuss issues facing small businesses, and serve as a venue for careful consideration of the impact of city policies and proposals on mom and pop shops across the city. It will assist the Mayor, City Council and the city's Economic and Workforce Development Department in promoting, growing and retaining small businesses in LA. Here's more on what the LASBC will do:
Reach out to the small business community to solicit input, feedback and potential solutions to issues they face with city policies or processes;
Develop an outreach plan for the city to implement when infrastructure or other projects will impact local small business communities;
Assist the city with outreach to the small business community when new or changed policies or processes will impact the small business community;
Meet work objectives set by the Mayor and City Council on an annual basis; and
Work with the city to prioritize issues of special concern to the small business community.
The City Council also just reviewed our Local Business Preference Program, something established in October 2011 at my request. The program makes it easier for local businesses to do business with the city by offering an eight percent competitive advantage on bids for city contracts for goods, equipment and services. I wanted to determine whether or not the program is working and see how we can improve it to help more local businesses.
As it turns out, the program has been quite successful so far. In four years, at least 23 percent of all contracts were awarded to local businesses and 69 different local businesses directly benefited from the incentive. While there is room for improvement, I'm pleased by the program's progress. The city is spending more of its money locally than ever before, money that is going to businesses that create jobs and add economic vitality to our communities.
The City Council will be on summer recess for the next few weeks. After we return and start the new fiscal year, I will hold another series of Jobs Committee meetings to dig even deeper into how the city can help small businesses grow and enhance our local economy.