At the March meeting of LAEDC’s Board of Governors, Treasurer Fiona Ma shared wide ranging priorities including small business relief, film & television tax credits, affordable housing, diversity and equity, the work of closing the digital divide and more. Read more about the Treasurer’s comments below.
CEO Bill Allen opened the meeting by welcoming new members and announced that Melissa Kham has joined LAEDC as vice president of strategic relations at LAEDC, who is now our primary contact for members. Sulaiman Kenyatta has also joined LAEDC to support our work on public policy.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma
Bill Allen covered important progress at LAEDC:
- LAEDC’s Economic Forecast focused on an inclusive economic recovery, and we have this week posted a longer and more in-depth version of the report HERE.
- LA is coordinating efforts to solicit, receive, align and deploy federal stimulus, to facilitate a truly inclusive recovery. A stimulus command center is being formed for this purpose, hosted by City of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti, and LAEDC will be participating in that work.
- County of Los Angeles released a report in February that they commissioned from LAEDC, Pathways for Economic Resiliency, which includes recommendations that prioritize an equitable recovery. It contains charts and analysis of the impact of the pandemic and recommendations to foster more widely shared prosperity. The LA County Board of Supervisors is proceeding to put forth motions related to these recommendations.
- LAEDC and Unite-LA are convening a broad coalition of stakeholders to close the digital divide for good here in LA County, via the new LA Digital Equity Action League (LA DEAL), a collaborative initiative to advance and accelerate high-speed internet infrastructure, affordable rate plans, digital literacy support and more – with the goal of giving all our neighbors equal access to remote work, remote school, online health services and other opportunities. The current gap in reliable, high-speed internet access represents a barrier to more inclusive economic growth that we can and will address. If you would like to get involved and support this important collaborative initiative, please contact Judy Kruger.
- LAEDC has published a report on LA’s middle skill jobs at LA’s sea and air ports, as part of our partnership in Center for a Competitive Workforce.
- LAEDC continues to facilitate numerous upcoming Regional Program Advisories for college faculty to connect with industry to help shape programs and curricula and expand talent pipeline relationships, with recent or upcoming webinars regarding career pathways for: auto technicians, animation, website design, e-sports and gaming, cloud computing, social & human assistance and more.
- LAEDC’s California SmartMatch will be showcasing Avisare, a tool that facilitates certifications for procurement opportunities for disadvantaged businesses, which will be introduced by LAEDC past chair Jodie Lesh at a March 30 webinar. Large employers interested in accelerating the diversification of their supply chains are encouraged to attend this webinar.
LAEDC thanked new members at this meeting:
- UCLA Health, represented by Santiago Munoz, chief strategy officer
- Deloitte Consulting, represented by Danny Ledger, principal
- Vectis D.C., David Herbst, founding partner and chairman
- Gensler, John Adams, principal
- City of Montebello, represented by Michael Chee, deputy director public affairs
- Antelope Valley Economic Development & Growth Enterprise (AV EDGE), represented Ronda Perez, executive director
- LAEDC’s March 29th COVID Economic Implications Webinar, discussing the most current unemployment and recovery data.
- LAEDC’s 3rd annual 88 Cities Summit – Achieving Inclusive Economic Recovery for our Region, which is presented for an audience of local government elected officials and staff and economic development professionals. Topics include small business recovery, workforce retraining, and closing the digital divide
- WTCLA will be publishing our 6th annual Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) report, which will be released via a webinar on June 2nd, to summarize the positive impacts of international business and investment within state of CA, with presentations by state representatives, and GO-BIZ as a sponsor.
LAEDC Chair Steve Nissen introduces Treasurer Fiona Ma
Treasurer Ma’s remarks:
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma talked about tax relief updates on her website Treasurer.ca.gov , which also includes an updated COVID-19 resource guide. She mentioned her office is also fielding hundreds of email requests to support businesses that need a little help with tracking covid relief.
The treasurer mentioned bill AB 986 Equitable Opportunity Film Tax Credit, as a response to losing some independent, diverse film productions (e.g. Tyler Perry’s production company) to the state of Georgia, and she voiced strong support for bringing such production work back to California.
Treasurer Ma mentioned she has been very active promoting the election of women to corporate boards headquartered in California, and said we have been making progress as a state on this diversity issue.
Regarding the housing crisis, the treasurer mentioned Governor Newsom wants 3.5 million new homes or units by 2025. She says affordable housing credits from the federal government have been oversubscribed and more state low-income housing credits have been made available under Governor Newsom, and also mentioned wildfire relief for those who lost housing to fires. Workforce housing is a state priority, and so is student housing on community college campuses and she asked for colleges to step forward with open land that can be used for state building of student housing.
As part of affordable housing, part of the current bond funds are dedicated to enabling housing development projects led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) to help address the equity, wealth and income divide.
She spoke of her excitement serving on the Women’s Caucus in California, focused on early childhood education and retraining for low income women to help them back into the workforce.
She also chairs a committee overseeing CalSavers, for those employers who don’t offer a retirement plan, so that once they have 5+ employees they can sign up for this plan. The retirement account stays with the employee, and works via automatic payroll deductions. Currently, retirement savings plans compliance is required for businesses with 100+ employees. The compliance deadline for companies with 50+ employees is June 2021, and the deadline for companies with 5+ employees will be June of 2022. Webinars are being offered to help businesses learn about the CalSavers program.
Treasurer Ma fielded several questions from LAEDC members:
Regarding closing the digital divide, Fiona Ma agreed it is a high priority and mentioned her team is part of a CPUC roundtable to assess mechanisms to bring more broadband access to underserved communities.
Regarding the move to electric vehicles, Treasurer Ma mentioned she is involved in a pilot project to deploy high-speed EV charging stations in Sacramento, working with Sacramento Regional Transit, since they have property where chargers can be located. She said she would like to partner with LA to help increase rollout of infrastructure and charging stations in our region. (Get involved via LAEDC’s e4 Mobility Alliance by contacting LAEDC’s Judy Kruger)
Regarding infrastructure, her office is looking at the need for infrastructure that is needed to support new housing projects to help those projects move ahead. She is also working on train infrastructure from Victorville to Vegas, and Sacramento to San Diego, and she is a big train buff and sees the need to provide more transportation options.
Regarding the state’s revenues, and the idea that we have a budget surplus, she said we balanced California’s budget last year with a placeholder for federal money that never came, and with deferrals in place for K-14 education as a line of credit that was made available to schools with cashflow issues. There are also workers at state level who are still furloughed, and the state hasn’t yet paid back all obligations. She said we really need to go back and make everyone whole before we can assess our budget position.
She closed by discussing the needs of businesses that are still hurting because of COVID restrictions and the importance of federal stimulus because so many people are still struggling, including landlords and renters alike.
Thanks to all our members for participating in this meeting and spending time exchanging ideas with Treasurer Ma.
If you are interested in membership with LAEDC to participate in leadership discussions such as this, please contact Melissa Kham to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member.