Downtown business advocacy group names new chief executive

The Central City Assn., an influential downtown business advocacy group, has named a new chief executive to replace long-time head Carol Schatz, who recently retired.

Taking the helm will be Jessica Lall, the executive director of a business improvement district in the South Park neighborhood, an area surrounding Staples Center that is awash in construction.

Lall’s appointment was announced Tuesday and will become effective Jan. 3.

 “Jessica has been a strong champion for Downtown and understands the importance of Downtown to the region’s economy,” said AEG executive Martha Saucedo, the board’s chairwoman, in a statement. “She is a proven advocate for business, having revitalized the South Park BID and transformed the district into one of LA’s most desirable and sustainable neighborhoods.”

Lall, 32, previously served under former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as senior policy director in the Department of Economic and Business Policy. She was also communications director for businessman Austin Beutner, when the former Los Angeles Times publisher ran for mayor in 2012.

“Jessica Lall has spent her career working on behalf of our city's residents and businesses — both at City Hall and as head of the South Park Business Improvement District — and I know she will do an excellent job in her new role,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

Lall said she looks forward to building on the association’s “legacy of creating a favorable business climate for the region.”

“As we move forward, promoting further job growth and more livable and sustainable communities will require a strong vision for Downtown and the region,” she said in a statement.

Schatz retired on Sept. 30. She spent more the 25 years with the downtown organization, during which time she helped guide the area’s revitalization.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

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