THE TOP MANUFACTURING
MAKE IT IN L.A. LOS ANGELES ISPARTNERSHIPS AND A FRESHHUB INOF START-UPS,THANKS TO NEW TECHNOLOGY, CREATIVE
SURE TO STAY THAT WAY.
Bill Allen, who understands the ABCs of commerce, once employed the entire alphabet
to illustrate the manufacturing might of Los Angeles. Starting with A for apparel and
for beer and baseball bats, he ran through all 26 letters noting products created here.
is for jewelry, is for missile systems, is for quartz countertops. Zippers neatly
close out the list.
was it was not says Allen, CEO of the Los
Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
The are mind-blowing: More than 12,000 manufacturers operate within
LA County, providing jobs to more than 350,000 people. That makes the county the
No. manufacturing hub in the one that is undergoing a resurgence.
Age-old foundries and industrial plants have been superseded by Silicon Beach, while
aerospace giants Boeing and Northrop Grumman have been joined in a race for the
stars by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.
Los manufacturing prowess still seems to below the
mind that radar is another technology manufactured here. partly because the
diversity of economic story sometimes gets overshadowed by the entertainment
industry, Allen says.
At one point, nearly 50 years ago, factories were closing as manufacturers opened
cheaper plants overseas. Lately, though, the marketplace has grown with new
enterprises founded on state-of-the-art technologies and processes. Bolstered by
angel investors and leadership in government and academia, manufacturing
start-ups are often both innovative and environmentally friendly.
One place where the transformation is clearly visible is the Los Angeles Cleantech
Incubator, a partnership joining private enterprise with the city of Los Angeles, several local colleges and universities and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Among its current projects is Perception Robotics, a company developing technology
behind industrial robots that have the ability to Another new launch, Hive
Lighting, harnesses plasma technology to create illumination for movie shoots. Highoutput plasma lights use half of the energy of standard spotlights while producing
a more natural light spectrum comparable to daylight. Thirty companies
currently share space at the incubator, which houses labs and machining equipment to
help create prototypes. The capacity exists to handle 50 to 70 start-ups at a time as
they move through development.
Even with this growth there is still substantial room for support and education,
says Tracy D. Gray, managing director of The 22 Capital Group and a former business
marketing adviser to past mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. One problem is a shortage of
employees with the training to operate highly complex automated systems.
skill set for that Gray says. have low-skilled workers and
highly skilled workers, but an educational
Gray would like to see more cooperation between manufacturers and postsecondary education institutions, as well as stronger efforts to promote LA as a manufacturing mecca. Mayor Eric Garcetti already is moving in that direction, naming Krisztina
Holly to a new post as head of an independent, initiative called MAKE IT IN
LA, which will strive to grow the manufacturing ecosystem and make it world-famous.
long-term Holly says, that manufacturing should be as
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