High-tech industry booming in Los Angeles County, economists say

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off Los Angeles Innovation Week by announcing that L.A.'s tech industry is now just as critical to the economy as the city's manufacturing and entertainment sectors.

Oblong Industries is one of hundreds of new tech companies based in Los Angeles, bringing jobs to the area that didn't exist just a few years ago.

"For us, it's a tremendous place to attract talent. Los Angeles has such a wide variety of places where people can live," said Oblong Industries COO Mary Ann de Lares Norris said.

According to the report by the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), Los Angeles County has more high-tech sector jobs than any other area in the country, including New York City, San Francisco, and Santa Clara County in Northern California -- the heart of Silicon Valley.

"We have very talented human capital, we have research universities, we have a legacy of very high-tech industries, including aerospace, entertainment, fashion," said Christine Cooper with LAEDC.

The report shows this tech workforce is about 368,000 jobs, generating $32 billion in wages last year. Officials say these workers also mean more jobs in other industries. The total economic impact is about $58 billion. The mayor says the priority is to keep this growing and to make L.A. attractive to tech companies.

"So that people know when they come here, we will problem solve, we'll find them real estate, we'll cut their taxes, we will make the regulatory infrastructure the most attractive in the country for bringing your tech company here," said Garcetti.

The double-edged sword is that these tech companies can easily move to another area that is more business friendly. Workers can also work from remote locations, so the challenge is to also keep the jobs here.

"It's really important to have a quality of life where people want to be here and that includes good infrastructure and includes a good environment for sharing knowledge," said Cooper.

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