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Schwarzenegger, Villaraigosa focus on jobs

January 12, 2010 12:08:10 AM PST
Creating jobs and new business activity will be the goal of a new top-level official appointed on Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. California had one of the unemployment highest rates in the country at 12.3 percent. Things are even worse in the city of L.A., which is facing a billion-dollar deficit and an unemployment rate of 14 percent. But on Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa focused on two different approaches to the same basic problem.

In South Los Angeles, dozens of people stood in line for a chance to work at a new grocery store. Meanwhile, in the South Bay, Schwarzenegger got a guided tour of an aeronautics factory. The one thing these two events had in common: Jobs.

"During the worst recession since the Great Depression, this company is expanding. Last year, they expanded here, and they hired 100 more people, so this is why we are here today because they're such a perfect example of exactly the kind of job growth we would like to see all over the state of California," Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger used the tour of Ace Clearwater Enterprises in Torrance to highlight his new jobs initiative proposal, which includes a $500 million employer hiring incentive that aims to keep jobs from leaving California.

"We are not going to wait for the world, for the recession to come back, we are not waiting for Washington to come up with a plan to create jobs. We are creating our own plan to create the jobs," Schwarzenegger said.

As part of the governor's plan, the state would reimburse employers for the cost of hiring and training certain employees.

"I believe that it sends a message to employers throughout the state that our government is our partner and is working with us," said Kellie Johnson, president of Ace Clearwater Enterprises.

At City Hall on Monday, Villaraigosa announced the appointment of L.A.'s first chief executive for economic and business policy. Businessman Austin Beutner will be in charge of bringing in more revenue to the city.

"Austin's appointment is the first step toward a total reengineering, if you will, and refocusing of economic development and job creation in the city," Villaraigosa said.

Beutner says he'll focus on changing the way that City Hall thinks of the business community.

"We have to think of business like a client of ours. If they're satisfied, if we're serving their needs, collectively we can help them a lot. If they're not satisfied, if we are not serving their needs, we're not doing our job," Beutner said.

And with unemployment in California at record levels, it seems few are eager to change jobs. In an exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA, we asked if you were currently looking to change jobs: 32 percent said yes, while 66 percent said no.

The mayor's new deputy mayor started his new position on Monday, and he will be paid $1 per year. As for the governor's new jobs initiative, he still needs lawmakers to approve the ambitious plan, which also expands the tax credit for first-time home buyers and limits environmental regulations.