City amps up hunt for new businesses

The city is cranking up efforts to lure new businesses to the San Fernando Road creative corridor, offering financial incentives as part of a marketing plan to bring entertainment and design-related firms to old aviation and manufacturing sites.

The City Council on Tuesday approved grants to new businesses and a $260,000-marketing plan to attract firms to join the Walt Disney Co., DreamWorks Animation SKG and KABC in southwest Glendale. It also tweaked an existing incentive plan under which the city provides funds to help convert buildings for modern uses.

Officials looked back on a year in which 40 new businesses came to the area, including film production firms Technicolor Inc. and Cinetech. Leasing prices in the San Fernando Road corridor are now stable and the vacancy rate is hovering around 5%, according to a city staff report.

“There definitely is a critical mass,” Philip Lanzafame, the city’s chief assistant director for community development, said. “This already is a creative corridor.”

The new proposals call for the city to offer as much as $250,000 in incentives for larger firms to come to Glendale. In order to qualify, the companies must be considered high-profile, with realistic plans for growth and a commitment to hosting high-paying jobs in Glendale buildings that have been “chronically vacant,” Lanzafame said.

An existing program to provide smaller grants for façade improvements will be expanded to help companies fix internal features — such as fire sprinkler systems — that they must upgrade before moving in.

“There are times when creative companies really don’t care what the front of their building looks like,” Lanzafame said. “In fact, the more vague it can be, the better it is for them.”

The city already makes available an “entitlements concierge” — essentially a project manager — to shepherd companies through the permitting process.

The City Council, acting as the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, unanimously approved the new plans. The only concern members aired focused on the possible use of billboards along nearby highways to bring attention to the corridor.

Councilman Frank Quintero said social media and other tools are more appropriate for marketing to creative businesses, while Councilman John Drayman said the idea of spending money on billboards might bring residents to council chambers with “pitchforks and torches.”

Lanzafame said his staff would come back with a more detailed marketing campaign later this year.

chief assistant director for community development

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World