Income & Employment / 2013

Establishing a Hub for Cleantech Innovation and Job Creation

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by LA Cleantech Incubator / Clean Tech LA

- Establish a Hub for Cleantech Innovation and Job Creation: We are revitalizing a blighted area of Los Angeles by creating new companies – and therefore thousands of jobs across the economic spectrum – in the fastest growing business sector on the globe. The nonprofit LA Cleantech Incubator has launched 14 new companies in just the last 18 months, creating over 75 direct jobs & millions of dollars in job opportunities for electricians, maintenance technicians, engineers, fabricators, plumbers, construction workers, office workers, executives, manufacturing workers, & more. When the La Kretz Innovation Campus opens less than a year from today, we will have capacity to serve substantially more companies at various stages of growth, as well as a more robust workforce development capability – & this is just the beginning.

- Create a Roadmap for Revitalizing the Downtown Industrial District: Our goal is to transform what was once LA’s industrial core into a vibrant, growing Cleantech Corridor, thus creating a long-lasting economy & sustainable, family-supporting jobs for Angelinos. This project enlists a strong group of partners in economic development, policy, planning, architecture, higher education, local political & community leadership, as well as business leaders & entrepreneurs. Together, we will build on our assets to create, demonstrate, & promote a new Cleantech Corridor Roadmap that will serve as an action-plan for building this regional hub.

- Seize the Cleantech Opportunity: Cleantech innovation is critically important to the United States, & to Los Angeles in particular. The sector is massive and growing at a tremendous rate. The global market volume of the cleantech sector today is $2.7 Trillion per year, and it is projected to double by 2025. Mirroring global trends, renewable energy is the fastest growing sector in the US economy, growing 49% between 2007 and 2011.

Along with this enormous new market opportunity come opportunities for creating well-paying, sustainable and diverse jobs. Nationwide, cleantech jobs pay 13% more than jobs outside the sector, and 26% of all cleantech jobs lie in manufacturing as compared to only 9% of jobs in the economy as a whole. These jobs are higher paying and growing at 10 times the rate of non-green jobs. Los Angeles is already the second largest green economy in the US, but important as cleantech is to LA’s economy today, it will be orders of magnitude more important in the decades to come as the world rebuilds its transportation & energy infrastructure.

Alongside these promising statistics, it is important to note another widely acknowledged fact: creating new companies is the best way to create new jobs. For example, during the last three decades all net new jobs created in the United States – 44million – have come from companies less than five years old. The Kaufman Foundation did an important study about economic growth & found that new companies create an average of three million new jobs every year in the US while existing companies lose one million jobs. This is why we focus on new company creation.

- Build a Cleantech Corridor: The next step is the creation of a hub for this burgeoning industry in Los Angeles. Encompassing a 4-mile stretch of land straddling the LA river from Union Station to Washington Blvd., from the Arts District to Boyle Heights, the Cleantech Corridor is that hub. We think of it as an Arts and Innovation District on the banks of the LA River.

- Our Action Plan: Over the seven-month period of this grant, LACI/CTLA will work with our partners and collaborators to produce an interactive roadmap that will demonstrate how current constraints, including existing policies, infrastructure, programs, etc. can be adapted to transform a blighted neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles into a thriving new industrial powerhouse that will serve as a hub for the region’s clean economy.

Semester-long, multidisciplinary studios will be conducted at USC’s public policy and architecture schools, as well as SCI-Arc. We will examine issues and opportunities and how these manifest in terms of buildings, infrastructure, and the way we interact. Most importantly, we will explore how this profound growth of new companies will change the picture in terms of number of jobs, job density, and wages accross the economic spectrum.

The result will be a critical examination of the current policy environment, leading to an action plan for the City, and an interactive visual representation of how these exciting projects will be integrated into the community. All findings will be published, and presented for review and comment.

We will do all of this while expanding the LA Cleantech Incubator and Clean Tech Los Angeles, building the La Kretz Innovation Campus, supporting development of the Cleantech Manufacturing Center, and creating real, family supporting jobs every day.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

CTLA: Created by the Mayor in 2009, CTLA is partnership of the region’s most important institutions dedicated to making Los Angles a huge green economy. Today, LA is the second largest green economy in the US, is the largest market for EVs and solar in the country, has more cleantech startups than any other region in the country, and is leading the way in renewable energy generation.

LACI: In just 18 short months, LACI has created a vibrant cleantech innovation ecosystem that has spawned 14 new cleantech companies, attracted partnerships with industry/academia, and finalized the funding and planning for the $40M La Kretz Innovation Campus in the Cleantech Corridor.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

City of Los Angeles: Mayor’s Office and Several City Council Offices, LADWP, MWD, USC, SCI-Arc, UCLA, Caltech, CSUN, 350 Green, 360 Power Group, 4sphere, California Lithium Battery, Hive Lighting, Chai Energy, Gridtest Systems, Magnovate Technologies, B.I.O.Tecture, Open Neighborhoods, Skyline Innovations, Somatis Technologies, E-Waste Systems Inc., DB New Energy, Greneker, Trammel Crow, GT Law, Gibson Dunn, The Broad Foundations, Central City East Association, California Center for Sustainable Energy, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, Wells Fargo Foundation

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The most important metrics all relate to jobs. We will need to ask the following questions: How many direct jobs have been created? How many indirect jobs? How sustainable are these jobs? Are they paying family-supporting wages? Are these truly “new” jobs, or are jobs being moved from one place to another?

There are also enabling indicators. How many companies have been created? How much capital has been infused into these companies? How diverse and broad is our team of collaborators? Have we effectively engaged all of the stakeholders in the process? Are current projects coming online on time? Are other recommendations being implemented? Is our report and interactive app being utilized? Etc.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

We will build new companies, that create new jobs, thereby revitalizing downtown Los Angeles’ industrial core.

Broadly, we will bring back the industrial core of downtown Los Angeles by rebuilding it into the cleantech innovation and commercialization center of the region. As a result, this area will once again provide family-supporting jobs for Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, East Los Angeles, Central and South Los Angeles, and beyond.

In the next 4 years alone just one of the envisioned projects of the Roadmap – the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s La Kretz Innovation Campus—will generate over 1700 jobs from companies who pay $45M per year in salaries and wages and generate more than $85M per year in sales.

We will create a new industrial powerhouse dedicated to clean technologies and sustainable jobs. We fully expect that by 2050, the LA Arts and Innovation District on the banks of the Los Angeles River will be the leading cleantech innovation and commercialization hub in the world.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, Los Angeles will be as iconic for clean technology as Silicon Valley is for hi-tech. We will be world-renown as a model for harnessing regional strengths to drive innovation, employment, sustainability, and livability in our diverse neighborhoods. We will be home to world’s largest cluster of cleantech companies, and with that, the largest population of workers in green jobs. The people who work these jobs will be well paid, highly respected, and proud to be building solutions to the worlds most pressing environmental, energy, water, and sustainability related challenges.