This study evaluates the work of the Los Angeles Business Team (LABT) in the Mayor’s Office for Economic Development (MOED). The LABT was created by the Mayor in 1995 to attract and retain businesses in the City of Los Angeles by packaging public subsidies and expediting the business permitting process. Because the LABT is one of the driving forces behind the current approach to economic development in Los Angeles, a systematic analysis of its successes and failures is a necessary prerequisite to the creation of a more effective citywide economic development strategy. The City of Los Angeles needs a long-term plan for economic growth and equity that promotes good jobs, supports key regional industries, and involves an open and accountable decision-making process. Such a strategy should include targeted initiatives that proactively address the needs of businesses within growth industries, while ensuring that the resulting jobs are well-paying and accessible to city residents most in need.
This study makes several key findings on the performance of the Business Team. The LABT has scored an important success in making the development process more efficient for businesses seeking to expand in the city. However, by assisting businesses on an ad hoc basis, the LABT has not employed important economic development criteria to determine where to focus its resources. Though it has acknowledged the need to focus on specific growth industries, there is little evidence that it has pursued such a strategy. The quality of jobs in the businesses that the LABT assists has not been an important criterion to guide its actions and, until recently, it has not targeted the most disadvantaged areas of the city.
This study concludes that the LABT needs to establish more appropriate criteria for determining how to allocate its resources, improve the accountability of its decision-making, and show how its strategy creates good jobs. The LABT should be restructured away from its current Council District orientation and refocused on a clear economic development strategy that improves the competitiveness of key regional industries.