Logo: University of Southern California

Geek Chic

Editorial by L.A.'s new mayor: the future of tech in the City of Angels
By: Eric Garcetti
November 12, 2013 —
Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Mayor's Office

Los Angeles is the creative capital of the U.S.  In 1969, Los Angeles became home to the first Internet node.  In 2012, Space X launched the first commercial spacecraft here.  In between, we changed the face of social media with MySpace, built aerospace technology that became the envy of the world, and re-defined the video game industry.  L.A. is the go-to place for innovation.  And the future economic growth of Los Angeles goes hand-in-hand with the growth of our start-up industries.

Los Angeles is already a powerhouse in developing future technology leaders. The schools in our area – USC, Cal Tech, and UCLA— graduate more engineers annually than UC Berkley and Stanford. With our colleges and universities creating a stellar talent pool, my job as mayor is to help keep that talent here in LA.

That’s why I’m talking about “Geek Chic” - my push to make tech even bigger in L.A.

First, we should ensure we have the kind of education and business partnerships with our colleges and universities that have been so successful in Silicon Valley. The Viterbi Start-Up Garage is a great example of this kind of partnership, which brings together the Viterbi minds, and the know-how of two premier firms to keep our best and brightest here in L.A.  This partnership forges the way for other schools and business partners to join in and serve as economic engines and job creators for our city.

City Hall needs to make L.A. more business and investor friendly and grow our already robust venture capital culture to rival Silicon Valley. As mayor, I’m committed to cutting red-tape that prevents organic business growth, including an easier permitting processes and getting rid of the gross sales receipt business tax.  We’ll also listen to tech industry and university leaders to make our city as competitive as possible with other tech centers.  For example, I helped lead the fight to keep Legal Zoom in LA and will continue that business-friendly tradition as mayor.

The most fundamental element of keeping talent in L.A., and attracting new business, is in improving basic quality of life in Los Angeles. Better city services, more parks, and fixed-up streets bring investment, bring businesses, and bring more opportunities for graduates.  That’s why I will hire LA’s first chief technology officer to harness the power of technology to make our city better, faster, and more efficient in delivering the basics-- simple things like online portals to give residents a “one-stop shop” to get all the permits they need to start a business.

While we work to prevent brain drain from LA, we also need make sure the next generation is ready to compete in our global economy.  That’s why I’m supporting increased STEM education in our middle and high schools, and teaching our students programming and foreign languages. I’m working with LAUSD, non-profit, and private-sector partners to grow “Silicon South”— developing the Crenshaw light rail line as a new tech corridor and improving technological education to the students of South LA.

Our college and university students know L.A. is the ideal place to learn, live and play.  Now I’m working to make sure these talented tech graduates can stay here and realize their professional dreams in our amazing city.

— Eric Garcetti is the 42nd mayor of the City of Los Angeles. He assumed office July 1, 2013.