The story of the growth of Los Angeles and its economy is highlighted by the ingenuity and vision of entrepreneurs. During National Entrepreneurship Month, I want to share with you what the Chamber is doing to ensure that L.A. builds on its fastest growing entrepreneurial sector: technology.
Five years ago, there were few outside of L.A. who would have pointed to our region as a growing center of technology. Even as our colleges and universities were graduating more engineering students than any other region in the nation, young professionals flocked north to Silicon Valley and other tech-friendly cities. L.A. was losing out.
Today, the landscape is vastly different and L.A. possesses a vibrant tech ecosystem that is the third-largest in the nation. More than 3,600 flourishing tech companies, and a network of venture capitalists, incubators and accelerators now exist in L.A. So, how does the Chamber fit into this ecosystem?
Nearly five years ago, we recognized the need to build a more robust and connected technology sector and we began planning our Bixel Exchange tech initiative, which officially launched in 2013. We leveraged the power of the Chamber and the proven track record of the Small Business Administration’s Los Angeles Small Business Development Center network to serve a uniquely diverse set of tech entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs needed mentoring and connections with established businesses, and we knew we could bring the two together. Since then, we have helped more than 300 startups get off the ground, connecting them with mentors that help guide and advise them along their entrepreneurial paths.
Technology companies succeed or fail based on talent. In 2015, we partnered with eight community colleges, 30 high schools and some of the region’s leading tech employers to form the Los Angeles High Impact Information Technology, Entertainment & Entrepreneurship, and Communications Hubs (LA HI-TECH) regional consortium. Our goal is to bring career enrichment and training opportunities to 4,000 L.A. students from diverse and predominantly low-income communities. We’re building career pathways for technology jobs that will contribute to growing companies and create a more prosperous and equitable L.A.
On a parallel path, the Chamber’s Innovation & Technology Council brings legislative and business leaders together to discuss issues affecting the tech community. We have taken tech leaders to Washington, D.C., Sacramento and L.A. City Hall to lobby on behalf of those issues, and the Council recently met with members of California’s Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus to discuss the Internet of Things.
The growth of technology companies in L.A. is essential to creating the jobs and quality of life we want and need.