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DOWNTOWN : CRA Chief Unveils City Economic Plan

Community members will be asked in the next weeks to comment on a proposal to implement tax breaks and other measures to keep longtime industries in the city and on a local revenue fund to promote economic development.

Ed Avila, administrator of the city Community Redevelopment Agency, unveiled details last week of a five-part economic development plan he crafted with the help of consulting attorney David Friedman and with comment from community leaders citywide.

The first step calls for forming a “development blueprint” that sets goals for business activity, job creation and investment in the region by 2000 and 2010.

The second step asks businesses to help combat negative perceptions of Los Angeles by aggressively marketing the city as a place to visit and set up operations.

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Third, Avila proposes that the city identify industries and companies, such as the apparel and motion-picture industries, that have long been located here and institute policies to ensure that they stay in Los Angeles. Tax breaks, regulatory reforms and establishing retraining and educational centers for workers are among suggested incentives.

The fourth step calls for maintaining a funding source to foster development. Los Angeles has long been dependent on federal grant funds and redevelopment tax increments for economic development, the plan summary notes.

Lastly, the plan calls for regional authorities to organize and streamline efforts to secure a maximum share of federal and state funds.

Avila and Friedman said they looked at economic plans in other states and found the key reasons for failure included regional authorities’ lack of information about local economies, diminishing subsidies and tax incentives from target regions, and failure to create such incentives to meet local requirements.

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Avila said the community would be involved in all aspects of the plan, which he is circulating among state and federal legislators as well as city officials and community members. He and his staff will be meeting with community groups throughout the city in coming weeks to discuss the plan.

Avila is still taking public comment, but he has already submitted the plan to the mayor and City Council for approval. If the council agrees, Avila said he wants to implement the first step of the plan within four months.

The economic development plan is the first step of Avila’s four-point strategy, announced earlier this month, to put the city “back on the economic fast track.”

Avila has vowed to establish better ties with homeowners, revitalize riot-torn areas and increase revenues.


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