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Letter to LAEDC members from outgoing Chair, Steve Nissen

Steve Nissen

As my term concludes as Chair of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation for 2020–21, I would like to express my thanks for the privilege of serving in this role in LAEDC’s 40th year of work collaboratively advancing growth and prosperity for the people of LA County.

It’s been a year like no other for ​the communities of LA County and for the LAEDC.  Our ​talented and dedicated staff stepped up and took on an unprecedented workload in business assistance, economic research, workforce development, public policy and more, making LAEDC an indispensable resource for the entire region.

LAEDC also pivoted at the beginning of the fiscal year to align work with its new internal strategic plan, including prioritizing equity, growth, sustainability, and resilience.  This increased focus was very timely as we addressed many related challenges.  The LAEDC’s executive committee deserves credit for solidifying and approving that plan back in the summer of 2020 and it has inspired the LAEDC team to great things as we help LA County’s residents.

LAEDC expanded its direct technical assistance to thousands of small businesses ​and micro enterprises which were facing ​existential threats due to the pandemic, significantly reducing layoffs and business closures.  Research from LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics such as the Pathways for Economic Resiliency report and our monthly economic crisis updates highlighted the unequal impacts of the pandemic and served as a shared dataset to inform economic recovery strategies.  LAEDC hosted dozens of small business reinvention webinars, and our Community Connectory COVID resources webpage served over 100,000 visits in total.  And LAEDC executives supported state, county, and local government leaders with the insights they needed to develop ​and execute crisis response plans.

As LAEDC looked at the goal of reskilling displaced workers, our workforce development team did amazing work, engaging over 150 community college faculty directly with industry to ensure our region’s training programs are both data- and demand-driven. The team strives to increase access to local high-growth industry sectors with well-paying jobs and engaged over a thousand students with industry leaders this year, with an emphasis on equity.

LAEDC also championed equity by forming the LA Digital Equity Action League (LA-DEAL) in partnership with UNITE-LA and more than 100 public and private partners.  Through this work we will ​accelerate more equitable access to ​affordable high-speed internet and eliminate the digital divide countywide, supporting a more inclusive economic recovery.

I would like to thank LAEDC Members for stepping up to support all this outstanding work during a year that strained many budgets; this support made a real human impact for thousands of families. Your support will remain vital for years to come, as LAEDC provides the ​thought leadership and direct services to build back a more equitable economy. No other organization is using such a unique​, specialized ​and integrated set of programs to make the LA Dream more attainable for our region’s families.

In closing, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome incoming LAEDC Chair, Rudy Medina, whose term has just begun as of July 1st.  Rudy is President of U.S. Bank’s Southern California Market, and the LAEDC will undoubtedly benefit from his leadership as Chair.

Thank you again, and I look forward to remaining engaged with all of you and the mission of LAEDC.

Steve Nissen

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