Stimulus there, but few feel it

NBC’s plans to reintroduce scripted programming in the final hour of prime time could generate as many as 1,500 jobs and $15 million a week in spending, industry observers said.

Following the worst year on record for filming in Los Angeles — one that saw motion picture, television and commercial productions flee the state for less tax-laden pastures — the estimate served as a stark reminder of how quickly things can turn around, said FilmLA President Paul Audley.

“That’s how fast you can make a recovery in the film industry with jobs,” said Audley, whose nonprofit organization recorded 37,979 permitted production days last year, compared with 47,117 the previous year.

He joined a panel from the entertainment, transportation and health-care industries Thursday in Burbank. Presented by Business Life magazine and host Woodbury University, federal small-business officials and a leader from the governor’s recovery task force focused their comments on economic resurgence through access to capital and job creation.

Despite the proliferation of federal stimulus money coming into the state, business owners and entrepreneurs are still largely mystified about how they can get in on the action, said Greg Krikorian, co-owner of Business Life and Senior Living magazines.

“America is at a major crossroads right now, and we need each other’s help,” said Krikorian, vice president of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education. “We’re all treading water.”

One of his goals was bridging the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

“We want you to leave knowing that you’re not alone. We do care,” he said.

For those looking to break into industries in Burbank and Glendale, that could be facilitated by officials by maintaining clean streets and a safe environment, and then “getting out of the way,” said Burbank City Manager Mike Flad.

Or it could mean a symbiotic relationship, involving various city departments or its newly formed economic development team. The forum, he said, was an opportunity for folks to listen and gain a better understanding of the challenges and available resources.

“I’ve never seen government move more quickly than I have in the past year,” said Jennifer Grutzius, chief of staff for the state Recovery Task Force, charged with tracking federal stimulus dollars and helping cities, counties and nonprofits access available funding.

About $18 billion of the more than $80 billion promised to the state has so far flowed into communities, Grutzius said. She suggested those in the private sector identify where those checks are going and contact the state organizations, nonprofits and local governments for possible contracting.

“You’re the faces of America, the future of our economy,” said Alberto Alvarado, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Strategic networking could include engaging in dialogue with suppliers, buyers and government at all levels, Alvarado said, noting that small-business loans are slated to jump from $2 million to $5 million.

“The only thing emerging is the eye sockets of the people who realize where the growth is,” he said.

Christopher Burner, chief project officer for the Gold Line Foothill Extension Authority, said the 11.4-mile extension from Pasadena to Azusa would create 7,000 jobs and generate $1 billion.

In the medical field, Cathy Martin, workforce director of the California Hospital Assn., pointed to the massive growth in pharmaceutical technology and the fields of dental assistants and sonographers.

But the problem has been at insufficient capacity in programs to train an adequate number of students, faculty shortages and limited clinical training sites, Martin said.

“The truth is, yes, it’s the bright spot in the economy long term. But short term, hospitals have hurt,” she said. “We need to not be shortsighted about this, and we need to continue to make the investments.”

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