Glendale to Fund Job Training to Entice Business

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency has agreed to spend up to $500,000 training new employees of large corporations as an enticement to big business to lease office space in downtown high-rises.

The agency voted, 4 to 1, Tuesday to allocate the funds to the Verdugo Private Industry Council, which operates a job training program for Glendale, Burbank and La Canada Flintridge under the federal Job Training Partnership Act.

Susan Shick, Glendale's deputy director of redevelopment, said the training program will create a ready labor pool for corporations, which, in turn, will encourage major tenants to move to Glendale.

Training potential employees is part of an ambitious program undertaken in Glendale to entice large corporations from throughout the nation to move to the city. Cities are competing with one another to attract major new tenants to fill office space and to spur construction in redevelopment projects.

Construction Nearly Halted

Construction in Glendale has virtually halted during the past three years as vacancy rates throughout Los Angeles climbed as high as 20%. There were not enough tenants to fill the offices built during a boom that began five years ago, says a 1985 office marketing guide published by the Building Owners and Managers Assn. of Greater Los Angeles. Vacancy rates in the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena area are 20% to 30%, the guide says.

With more than 32 million square feet of new office space available in Los Angeles, redevelopment agencies are in stiff competition with one another to attract new tenants.

The agencies have offered developers such inducements as large parcels of land assembled and sold at reduced prices, concessions in city requirements for parking facilities and low-cost construction financing through government-sponsored and government-guaranteed bond loans.

Shick said that a potential major tenant, whom she declined to name, indicated it might be persuaded to relocate to Glendale if the city provided a large skilled labor pool that would fill its employment needs.

Attractive Idea

"An employment training program partly funded by the agency as an inducement to commit to Glendale was very attractive to the tenant," she said.

Most developers and their financial backers require lease commitments from future tenants before they begin construction, city officials said. Lack of commitments has delayed several downtown redevelopment projects for years.

As a result, the Glendale redevelopment agency last year authorized the creation of a public relations program to promote the growth of the city's office market to developers worldwide. The agency, teamed with the private Glendale Economic Development Council, expects to launch that promotional campaign within a few months, city officials said.

Shick said the job training program will be available only to corporations that agree to lease at least 50,000 square feet of space in buildings completed in 1983 and after. Only two buildings currently would qualify, the largely vacant Cabot, Cabot and Forbes building at 330 N. Brand Blvd. and the Galleria II office building on Broadway at Orange Street.

New commitments would allow construction to begin on several other proposed buildings downtown, Shick said.

Day Opposed Plan

Councilman John F. Day, who voted against the job-training program, said the proposal was "vague and non-specific" in detailing who would benefit from the training. Day asked that Glendale residents be given priority for employment training or career advancement.

The Private Industry Council, a nonprofit organization founded in 1979, is an advisory board that designs and implements training programs funded through state and federal money. The council is composed primarily of representatives of private business but is under the direction of Madalyn Blake, Glendale community development administrator. The council was created by a joint-powers agreement among the three cities but is administered by Glendale.

The council receives nearly $1 million annually in state and federal money to fund job-training programs to meet private industry needs.

The council has developed a model teller-training program for Glendale Federal Savings & Loan, advance machine training for Lockheed Corp. and high-tech job skills in conjunction with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Glendale College.

The council also retrained workers laid off by the closure last year of Franciscan Ceramics and WED Enterprises, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions.

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