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State Economic Development Director Meets Valley Business Leaders

The director of the state’s Office of Economic Development told local business leaders June 4 how his office can help the local and state economy thrive. The office’s goals are to serve as an intermediary between businesses and government agencies and to join communities in a joint marketing plan that would promote California as business-friendly, Joel Ayala said at the event hosted by the Economic Valley Alliance. “You have the access now,” Ayala told the business leaders at Los Angeles Valley College. “Make use of it. Leverage it for your clients. Leverage it for your community.” The state office would serve as an advocate, following up on government agencies when plans to support businesses get lost in the bureaucratic process. The office also plans to fight legislation that would narrow the benefits of the state’s Enterprise Zone program, Ayala said. The office, also known as “GoED,” has already recruited six hubs in its marketing partnership and is now trying to add the city of Los Angeles, he said. The six “iHub” destinations include the areas of Orange County, San Francisco, Sacramento, western Coachella Valley, Livermore Valley and the North Bay. The hubs are categorized by specific areas of industry, such as green technology, biotechnology, sustainable resources and entrepreneurship. While the plan to create a hub in Los Angeles has received strong support from leaders in academia, more support is needed from the business community, Ayala said. “We need to drive industry so there are jobs out there,” Ayala said. The office has a team of about 30 to 35 people already employed by different government departments. Ayala said he plans to pursue corporate funding to make up for the office’s nonexistent budget. Gov. Schwarzenegger established the office in April and is working with legislators to make it a permanent fixture. Ayala formerly served as the president and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and of the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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