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Archived: Economic Recovery Begins With Us

Responsibility for accelerating our economic recovery should not be left to President-elect Obama and Congress in Washington, D.C. Here in Los Angeles, all of us – businesses, residents and elected officials – must ensure that our own fiscal houses are in order and that we are cultivating an environment ripe for creating good-paying private sector jobs.

This was the topic of conversation last night at the L.A. City Council 5th District Candidates Forum, co-hosted by the L.A. Area Chamber. All six candidates in this important race explained their strategy for tackling the city budget, economic development and strengthening the climate for businesses to succeed.

More than 200 Angelenos interested in how the city is managed and the bottom line attended the event, which will soon be available to all Time Warner Cable customers via On Demand.

The forum reinforced that there is much we can and should be doing here in Los Angeles. The national crisis demands national attention. However, there are local actions that can immediately improve the economy for both the short and long-term. The question is whether city officials will adequately address the local opportunities or instead play the wait-and-see game with federal lawmakers.

Process is often an excellent indicator of a strategy’s effectiveness. The federal approach to the economic crisis began with haphazard responses and limited Congressional input, but Congress and the incoming Obama Administration are now working diligently on the largest economic stimulus bill since the Great Depression. Furthermore, earmarks are discouraged while every line item will be available online for public scrutiny and accountability.

We encourage the city of Los Angeles to take a page from the federal playbook to become more open and transparent for its residents. The Chamber is still evaluating the Measure B solar ballot initiative, but a highly-questionable process took this program from concept to the March 3 ballot without anything close to a thorough public vetting or economic analysis. All of us should demand that City Hall’s elected officials apply an open, transparent process to developing ballot measures and to fixing the $400 million city budget deficit.

Los Angeles is a city built on talent, innovation and industry. We all are experiencing this difficult economic downturn, but this moment cannot be wasted. Now is the time for decisions that demonstrate leadership and collaboration among disparate groups that can spur positive change, and focus on improving our business climate and creating more private sector jobs for the benefit of the entire region.

We hope that whoever wins the 5th District Council seat understands this and that they will join a city council and mayor committed to doing just that.
And that’s The Business Perspective.

The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Samuel Garrison, Vice President of Public Policy.