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LA commission calls for more jobs, reform

The cover of a report the Los Angeles 2020 Commission released on the economic state of the city on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

April 9, 2014 5:02:54 PM PDT
A new economic report released Wednesday by the Los Angeles 2020 Commission paints a grim picture of the city's economic situation, but it also proposes solutions.

The commission, made up of prominent civic, labor and business leaders, was created by City Council President Herb Wesson and initially brought the issues to light in a January report. The latest report focuses on how to fix the city's problems, specifically on how to create more jobs.

"We said in our first report we are treading water. We've got to stop that. We've got to start swimming," Commission Chair Mickey Kantor said.

Los Angeles is in a job crisis, and has been losing jobs over the past 20 years, the report said. Business leaders said the city has to make it attractive for new companies to move here.

"Taxes do make a difference. Regulations make a significant difference," said Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

He added: "We are in competition every single day for every business that locates here and every cargo container that comes into our ports."

One of the group's ideas is to combine the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, so they can work together. Some experts said that won't not be easy.

"It has a terrible reputation. Walmart, which is the largest importer in the country, has avoided us," Jack Humphreville, a writer for CityWatch, an online blog.

Humphreville said competition with ports in Mexico and Canada and the opening of the Panama Canal makes Los Angeles a tough sell.

The report also says the public needs to trust government and urges the city to create an office of transparency and accountability and an independent regulator for the city's Department of Water and Power.

Kantor admits those ideas may run into roadblocks.

"It can be complicated, but if we don't start now it will never get done," Kantor said.

Wesson expects to take the report to the full city council for discussion.

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