Beyond Attractions, Inglewood is Creating Good Jobs and Lives for its Residents
While the more visible aspects of Inglewood’s rebirth as an entertainment mecca and economic powerhouse attract media attention, behind the headlines lie less glamorous but equally impactful investments in jobs, infrastructure, and local businesses.
In the fine print of deals that brought SoFi Stadium and its Rams and Chargers NFL teams to Inglewood, as well as Los Angeles Philharmonic’s YOLA Center, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, and the under-construction Intuit Dome, are commitments to local job creation and urban renewal that run much deeper than just bricks and concrete. Spearheaded by Mayor of Inglewood James T. Butts Jr., there has been a concerted effort to ensure the city’s metaphorical “rising tide” truly lifts all boats.
Investment in Jobs
A vast construction project like the nearly $5-billion SoFi Stadium would typically draw in construction workers and tradespeople from all over the region, meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars for supplies and services would not benefit its immediate community. But the City of Inglewood included 35% local-hire provisions in its agreements with developers of the stadium and other nearby projects that are expected to collectively generate 50,000 construction jobs over seven years.
This meant that more than 1,200 of the 3,000 workers at the SoFi Stadium site lived in Inglewood zip codes. In the first two months of 2019 alone, local-hire preferences resulted in more than $55 million in wages and benefits staying within the community.
Butts also insisted upon “hard-to-hire” clauses which prevent job seekers from being disqualified solely due to a felony conviction. In a city with previously high crime rates, this was particularly significant. More than half of the 200 apprentices at the SoFi Stadium construction site were former incarcerated gang members who were given a chance at family-sustaining and potentially life-changing trades. Inglewood has enjoyed multiple consecutive years of the lowest crime rates in its recorded history since Butts took office.
Investment in Business
Mayor Butts has additionally made sure that much of the economic windfall from Inglewood’s new developments, which include the renovation of the Forum arena and the new $14.5-million home of the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, remain in the city by requiring developers to source as many supplies and services as possible through its diverse local firms.
“At the behest of Inglewood, the [SoFi] stadium construction team has awarded 80 local minority and women-led business contracts for supplies and services estimated to be worth more than a half-billion dollars,” he wrote in a 2019 Los Angeles Times op-ed.
The city further specified that construction materials be wholesaled to the Inglewood site, which allowed sales taxes of around $15 million annually to be collected.
Billionaire SoFi Stadium developer and Rams owner Stan Kroenke got behind Inglewood businesses to the point of even contracting with local firms for the catering of construction milestone events on the way to the stadium’s 2020 opening.
Investment in Infrastructure
Rapid and comprehensive improvements to Inglewood’s infrastructure under Mayor Butts have made the city more business-friendly while also creating jobs and enhanced livability for its existing residents.
“Infrastructure was job one,” Butts recalled. “But it was done concurrent with the activity to make us a destination city again.”
The City of Inglewood set about paving streets, upgrading water and sewer systems, and laying underground fiber-optic cable like never before. In the past seven years, the city has reconstructed or renewed more miles of roadway and sidewalk than it had in the prior four decades.
“When I came to office … you would get your tree trimmed on the average every 20 years, which was ridiculous,” said Butts. “We’ve spent a lot of money on contract services in addition to our local tree trimming staff, and we changed the topography of the city and the livability of the city.”
The pruning of trees and the minutiae of development contracts may not sound exciting, but these are equally significant to the equitable renewal of Inglewood as the soaring stadiums or glitzy sports teams. Alongside strict rent caps, such measures have gone a long way to ensuring that the revived “City of Champions” is in fact a better city for all.