LAST WEEK, I had the privilege to attend the Los Angeles Urban Economic Forum, co-hosted by The White House and Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles. This event, held at LMU, was organized to bring together business leaders in the area and inspire them to continue investing in our city’s economy. Throughout the day there was an emphasis on small businesses. Mayor Villaraigosa opened the day’s event by acknowledging the lure of Los Angeles’s economy. He reflected on the big businesses that have since moved out of L.A., but also reaffirmed us that this city still remains the best location for small businesses. A restaurant like Tak’s on Crenshaw is a great example of a small business that has thrived as Tak’s has become a part of the community it serves over the years. Similarly, L.A.’s legendary Lakers basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s businesses have thrived in L.A. in the same way Mary’s coffee shop Tak’s has—they have found ways to cater their businesses to their communities. Johnson was one of the early speakers of the event, and highlighted a few of the business decisions that have made him successful. He mentioned how his movie theatres have catered their food to their communities by offering spicier sausages and condiments. While these stories were at times humorous, they were real, raw stories of success. L.A. will chew your theatres food and spit it out, but Johnson has managed to bring various businesses into neighborhoods that have proven a need for them. Johnson has not ignored these communities, and advocated to bigger business leaders that these communities want to spend just as much as communities with higher discretionary spending. Speaking of spending, this week it was announced that Johnson’s group of bidders won the bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion, in cash. Once again, Johnson is setting an example for fellow Angelenos to follow as he is risking his reputation for the sake of our city’s.
Photo: Art Flores