When Google announced a week ago that it was making a $120 million purchase of 12 acres of land in Playa Vista, the tech world took notice. The land is zoned for nearly one million square feet of commercial space and sits adjacent to the historic hangar in which Howard Hughes built his famous “Spruce Goose” airplane. This new development, plus the renovated space in the hangar, could create 6,000 new technology jobs in Los Angeles.
Google’s big announcement is symbolic of the tremendous momentum that L.A.’s tech scene is experiencing. A recent article on TechCrunch.Com was titled, “There’s Something Going On in L.A.” The article noted that Southern California has the largest number of new tech company start-ups in the United States and is No. 3 in tech ecosystems, behind Silicon Valley and New York.
One of the foundations of this recent surge in tech and entrepreneurial activity is the concentration of high quality universities in Los Angeles County. These universities attract the brightest students, faculty and researchers to L.A. and Southern California. The TechCrunch authors noted that L.A. universities graduate more engineers than any metro area in the United States.
Our universities are doing their job, but we also need to prepare our young people for tech careers earlier in their educational path. To take advantage of the tech jobs that will be coming to L.A., the Chamber’s technology initiative, the Bixel Exchange, is working with educators and businesses to create a series of career pathways in technology careers like software systems and development, design, visual and media arts and information support and services. These programs will prepare 3,600 students in 56 percent of the ICT (information, communication and technology) majors at 14 community colleges, five high school districts and three CSUs.
For the past two years, as part of the Chamber’s commitment to supporting this growing sector, our Bixel Exchange SBDC has also been providing much-needed start-up advisors to local tech entrepreneurs, including more than 70 small tech businesses in 2014.
Google’s announcement got the world’s attention and immediately became a source of pride for Playa Vista and L.A. We now need to prepare our young people to take advantage of the new jobs and the new economic opportunities that this growing and exciting tech sector will provide.