Southern California's aerospace and manufacturing industries will get first crack at $1.3 billion in federal money for workforce development, research and other areas, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today.
The Southern California region was named one of a dozen "manufacturing communities" by the Commerce Department, which means local aerospace and manufacturing businesses will get preferential access to funds to help them grow, according to Garcetti.
Local businesses and organizations will also get assistance from federal liaisons who will guide them through the process of applying for the funds, the mayor said.
The federal assistance will give the local aerospace and manufacturing industries a much-needed boost, he said.
"L.A. has been the king of aerospace for decades," Garcetti said. "We fell asleep at the switch, but this is our wake-up call."
With the designation, the federal government "recognized" that the Los Angeles region has "a unique ability to engineer, manufacture and ship; that our trade and logistics are unparalleled because of the port and the airport; we're still the manufacturing capital, and we've got this incredible academic base for engineering and innovation," Garcetti said.
The special status came in response to an application from the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership for Southern California, or AMP SoCal, a coalition that includes aerospace businesses, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, community colleges and universities and government agencies from Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties.
Garcetti said he started the process during his mayoral campaign when he convened a team of "aerospace folks." Once in office, the mayor said he worked with leaders in the aerospace industry and the University of Southern California to submit an application to the Commerce Department.
The application gave examples of innovation taking place in the Los Angeles area, including the use of video gaming technology in the aerospace industry and the creation of unique, composite materials to replace metals used in airplanes and space vehicles, Garcetti said.
Garcetti, who discussed the designation during a news conference at the California Science Center, said his "top priority is to leave the recession in the rearview mirror by making sure Los Angeles is ready for the jobs and industries of tomorrow."
"We've been aggressive," he said. "Today's announcement is the result of us being loud and clear in Washington that we're serious about investing in jobs here in California."
Kish Rajan, director of Gov. Jerry Brown's Office of Business and Economic Development, said the "designation as a national manufacturing community further underscores California's place as the U.S. leader in manufacturing companies, jobs and output."
The governor plans to work with Garcetti "to continue to deliver resources to Southern California's manufacturing companies," Rajan said.
The news was also cheered by members of Congress.
Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Arleta, said California "is the hub of innovation in the United States and our manufacturing workers are second-to-none."
"I am excited that the Department of Commerce chose Southern California for one of the partnerships," he said.
Southern California has 80 percent of the state's aerospace employees, with 17 percent of the nation's aerospace production taking place within the state, according to Cardenas.
In 2011, the local aerospace industry produced more than $31 billion in goods, his office said.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said with financial assistance from the federal government, "I am certain that our region's best manufacturing days lie ahead of us."
--City News Service