Congress is failing to take action on jobs. But my administration is not waiting for Washington: we are taking five steps right now to put people back to work.

Step #1: We are working to reform LA’s business tax.

To attract new businesses into Los Angeles, my office worked with the City Council to institute a Business Tax Holiday, creating a three-year business tax exemption for any new business that moves into Los Angeles.

This policy is working. Companies like Blackline Software, Tom’s Shoes, and Google have relocated jobs to Los Angeles in part because of this powerful incentive. We need to keep this policy going.
We have also passed an ordinance to keep taxes low on Internet businesses. Given how easy it is for these businesses to move, we want to be sure not to lose them.

When it comes to comprehensive reform of our business tax, I have been meeting with business owners around Los Angeles and studying proposals. I am fully committed to further Business Tax Reform as long as we balance that with the need to be fiscally responsible.

Step #2: We are reducing red tape.

To streamline the development process and improve customer service, we created the Office of Case Management. It brings seven City departments together in one office to walk businesses of all sizes through the development process. Since this office opened in June, 600 cases have already been processed. And our Restaurant Hospitality Express program has reduced the time it takes to open new restaurants from two years to six months.

Step #3: We are partnering with local businesses.

If we are going to revive job creation in Los Angeles, government has to partner with local businesses.
Knowing that we have more small businesses than any other city in the country, I opened LA’s first ever Office of Small Business to partner with our City’s best job creators.

To stay close to the needs of businesses in Los Angeles, each member of my business team is required to make five sales calls per week. As people in business know, you can’t succeed if you’re not talking to your customers.

We are also pushing a Local Preference Ordinance which will help business in LA compete for City contracts. Los Angeles spends more than $2 billion per year on large and small scale projects. But only 15 percent of this money goes to local businesses. This must change. Earlier this week, the City Attorney finished drafting the Local Preference Ordinance. The City Council should now give final passage to this job-creating measure.

We have also unveiled, a website designed to provide businesses with access to all the information needed to identify the optimal location in Los Angeles to site their business start-up, expansion or relocation.

Step #4: We are modernizing LAX and the Port of Los Angeles.

LAX and the Port are major economic engines for the LA region.

We have undertaken a $4.1 billion modernization at LAX that is creating 39,000 new jobs. At the Port, LA is investing $1.2 billion in new infrastructure over the next five years that will create 20,000 new jobs and ensure that we remain the nation’s number one container port.

Step #5: We are building a 21st century rail network.

In 2008, I led the fight for Measure R, a half-penny sales tax raising $40 billion over the next 30 years to double the size of the rail system and to repair our roads and highways. Just last month we broke ground on Expo Phase 2, a light-rail line that will connect Santa Monica to downtown LA when it opens in 2015. For the first time in 50 years, the Westside will have rail and we will have created more than 10,000 jobs in the process.

Here in Los Angeles we understand that the biggest deficit we face is the deficit of jobs. By reforming taxes, reducing red tape, partnering with local businesses, and upgrading our infrastructure, we are putting Los Angeles on the side of people who are ready to go back to work.


Antonio Villaraigosa is mayor of the City of Los Angeles.