State of the City: Mayor Calls Education ‘Number One Tool’ for Economic Development

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Mayor Robert Garcia - Photo from Facebook

Mayor Robert Garcia – Photo from Facebook

Mayor Robert Garcia delivered his first State of the City Address Tuesday, to an audience of more than 2,000 people, including elected officials, residents and stakeholders at the Terrace Theater in downtown Long Beach.

“The state of the city is strong, and getting stronger,” said the Mayor.

The speech featured a review of recent accomplishments in the City of Long Beach, policy goals for the coming year, and several major announcements by the Mayor, including a call to local employers to provide internships for Long Beach students.

Garcia, who is six months into his first term as Mayor, has made education his top priority. He provided an update on the progress of the Long Beach College Promise, which the City joined as a full partner last fall.

In a major announcement, Garcia told the assembly of a new internship collaboration between the Mayor’s office, the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network (PGWIN), and the three major educational institutions in Long Beach – LBUSD, LBCC, and CSULB.

“The number one tool to support economic development is education,” said Garcia in the speech. “Today, I am issuing a call to every employer in greater Long Beach – to partner with us and support our students by providing internships​.”

This new initiative will support the Mayor’s goal of doubling the number of internships in the City for Long Beach students. PGWIN will serve as the main point of contact for local businesses interested in providing internships in partnership with the Long Beach Collaborative for Advancing Linked Learning (LBCALL), a new organization created to support the three educational partners as they strive to expand internship opportunities for students.​

LBCALL’s primary focus will be to establish expanded infrastructure, including staffing and expertise, to provide internships, industry tours, and regional industry sponsored events which align with students’ course of study. PGWIN will support this effort by recruiting businesses, providing information and support, and hosting events to encourage employers to provide internships and other work-based learning opportunities.

A new website for interested businesses was launched to support this recruitment effort at www.HireLB.com, and will serve as a new portal with information for potential employer partners and interested students.

Garcia also announced the construction of a new EDUCARE center at Barton Elementary School in North Long Beach, and reiterated his goal of universal preschool for LBUSD students.

“This new center will provide year-round, high-quality early childhood education programs to children in North Long Beach,” Garcia said. “In addition, we are working with members of the Early Childhood Education Committee to expand access and participation throughout Long Beach so every student who enrolls in kindergarten is ready for success.”

Economic development was also prominently featured in the speech. Mayor Garcia highlighted the $3 million Bloomberg Innovation Team grant Long Beach recently won, as well as major commercial and residential developments downtown and throughout the City, including a $68 million investment of private capital at the Pike, and a goal of increasing residential units and density downtown.

“The jobs and tax base created downtown enable us to fund citywide infrastructure and services…So tonight I want to announce a major new drive to build at least 4,000 new residential units in our downtown over the next ten years…[to] bring more than 8,000 new residents and boost our tax base.”

Garcia also issued a call for continued fiscal restraint in the face of looming pension liabilities and unstable oil prices, noting the new pension stabilization fund already has $8.5 million dollars set aside.

“Today, Long Beach is in a better place, having balanced our revenues and expenditures, and implemented pension reform, which will save $250 million over the next 10 years,” said the Mayor. “The pension challenge is far from over, but thanks to the hard work and tough choices of my predecessor, Bob Foster, and previous City Councils, we are in a position to meet the challenge.”

The Mayor also reported on some of the sustainability measures the City has achieved, and announced new sustainability goals for his administration.

“Let me be clear: Climate change is real.” Garcia said. “[T]onight I’m calling on the City Council to review the progress of our Sustainable City Plan and to update its goals. And I’ve already had a commitment from the Aquarium of the Pacific, whose programs are world renowned, to work with scientific experts and develop a Climate Resiliency Action Plan to present to the Council.”

Mayor Garcia’s review of the accomplishments of 2014, and of the previous 15 years, lauded the City’s new historic low crime rates, several important economic benchmarks, and sustainability measures, among other achievements.

Robert Garcia, the 28th Mayor of Long Beach, delivered the State of the City address as required by the City Charter.

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