A City Council ad hoc committee Wednesday examined the possibility of creating new incentives to encourage businesses to open in economically challenged areas of Los Angeles.
The Jobs and Economic Development Incentive policy, or JEDI, would give up to 100 businesses subsidies for permitting and service contract fees. It also would provide funding for additional job training.
“This is an incentive to bring in new businesses in areas that will benefit the most,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the Comprehensive Job Creation Plan Ad Hoc Committee.
The committee voted to instruct the city administrative officer to report on the financial details of the program before it’s sent to the full council for consideration. About $1.5 million was requested in the initial report.
The zones that would be eligible include areas that are already covered by the city’s Opportunity Zones as well as other economic designations.
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson brought up a sensitive issue that he said has historically deterred businesses from opening in the designated areas.
“The resistance investment has to certain areas, some of that is associated with … not necessarily bureaucracy and not access to capital,” Harris-Dawson said. “One is the infrastructure, sometimes it’s the availability of high-speed internet … and just the sticky, sticky point of race. The buildings are there, workers are there, the incentives are there, the people are there, and investment just seems allergic to it.”
Harris-Dawson said the city has started similar programs in the past with “uneven” results.
Officials with the city’s Economic and Workforce Development Department said the programs have helped businesses in the past. They said businesses want to minimize their risks, no matter where in the city that may be.
“We’re extending partnerships and letting people know that (they) are wanted,” said John Reamer, the EWDD’s interim general manager. “I totally agree with you that there are certain areas in the city where that doesn’t seem to have happened. What I can say is I believe this is a tool that can work.”
Reamer said many businesses are not aware of the different services and incentives the city provides and expanding that awareness would help bring the program to fruition.
The ad hoc committee also discussed an economic strategy for the city that would be a road map for the next five years. The EWDD is slated bring a report back to the committee.
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