UCLA, USC host event exploring economic opportunities of LA County Sustainability Plan

July 17, 2019

The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC) and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation with the University of Southern California hosted a discussion event titled, “Los Angeles County Sustainability Plan: Gearing Up Economic Opportunity and Jobs” on July 17, 2019.

Leaders from business, government, nonprofits and labor explored the economic opportunities and job creation potential of the LA County Sustainability Plan, “Our County.” The Plan – developed by the LA County Chief Sustainability Office with UCLA, BuroHappold Engineering and the Liberty Hill Foundation – sets ambitious goals for transitioning the County to 100 percent clean energy while protecting and supporting job seekers and workers.

Much of the Plan aims to remedy historic inequalities faced by some LA communities, such as those disproportionately affected by industrial pollution, said LA County Chief Sustainability Officer Gary Gero. “We need to find ways to make cleaner, more environmentally sound businesses, so that workers are safer and healthier and neighborhoods are safer and healthier,” said Gero.

Several panelists emphasized that as the largest county in the U.S., LA County’s policies and purchasing power can send market signals to catalyze business growth, job creation and entrepreneurship.

Speakers on a panel moderated by J.R. DeShazo, director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and co-chair of the SLA GC steering committee, discussed the need for more partnerships and investments to ensure that the workforce is prepared to meet employers’ needs as the green economy in LA County grows.

“There’s still a gap in skilled, work-ready individuals in the County and we’re working to address that,” said Caroline Torosis, director of Economic and Business Development for the LA County Workforce Development Department. “We’ve partnered with several aerospace and engineering companies, and would like to work more with the trades. We need direct partnerships where we know we’re training people for jobs that exist.”

“With ‘Our County,’ LA County has created a blueprint for a sustainable future that we believe will catalyze innovation and create a stronger regional economy,” said Cassie Rauser, director of the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge and a contributor to the plan. “We’re proud to be a part of this historic effort.”

Speakers included:

Wendy Butts (CEO, Los Angeles Conservation Corps)
J.R. DeShazo (Director, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovations)
Gary Gero (Chief Sustainability Officer, Los Angeles County)
Sam Jammal (Senior Manager of Government Relations Western Region, BYD)
Bob Keefe (Executive Director, Environmental Entrepreneurs)
Mia Lehrer (President, Studio-MLA)
Mary Leslie (President, Los Angeles Business Council)
Ron Miller (Executive Secretary, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council)
Senator Fran Pavley (Environmental Policy Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute)
Estelle Reyes (SVP, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator)
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Los Angeles County, Second District)
Caroline Torosis (Director of Economic and Business Development, LA County Department of Workforce Development)