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Economic Development Strategy: A Path to Bolster Duarte’s Economic Future

Duarte City Council has given final approval to an Economic Development Strategy document that will provide a path and work program for the City’s economic development from 2011 to 2015.
Los Angeles County Economic Development Commission (LAEDC) was contracted by the City to develop the document which provides an overview of the City’s demographic conditions and sets out objectives and tasks under five major goals to bolster Duarte’s economic future.
“The document was specifically designed to address local tasks that can be achieved by the City. There may be many regional efforts related to economic development that the City will also want to be involved in, but this document provides manageable tasks that can be done,” noted Community Development Director, Craig Hensley.
To reach the five goals of Duarte’s Economic Development Strategy there are 46 tasks:
Prepare an Educated Workforce – Connect schools to communities by linking local community organizations, non-profits, businesses and corporate leaders with schools through formal partnerships; help address existing and projected future workforce gaps by facilitating more opportunities for public-private collaboration between individual businesses, community colleges and universities.
Create a Business-Friendly Environment – “Duarte has excelled in the creation of a business-friendly environment,” notes the LAEDC, which named Duarte one of the most business-friendly cities in L.A. County in 2010. Cited were the City’s one-stop permit center, hands-on City Council in regular contact with businesses, active redevelopment agency, and free seminars. To further improve, the City needs to retain and expand the existing job base while proactively attracting new businesses, industries, jobs and investment; and leverage the research and development activities to the City of Hope for the commercialization of research, technology, and similar opportunities. Specific tasks include: Promote the development of medical research space for researchers at City of Hope. Explore the possible creation of an incubator for researchers seeking to commercialize their work. Maintain and update a database of all businesses in the City and continue to survey them to establish their needs and identify firms at risk of leaving.
Enhance Duarte’s Quality of Life – Ensure public safety; improve mobility and reduce traffic congestion; encourage transit-oriented development; promote healthy living; encourage and expand cultural and artistic amenities available to the public; and revitalize low income communities.
Implement Smart Land Use – Ensure that the prime industrial area adjacent to City of Hope between Duarte Rd. and the 210 Freeway is protected from encroachment by incompatible uses. Encourage the creation of an incubator for medical research technology and similar uses tied to the City of Hope. Develop a specific plan for the development of a city center/town center at Huntington Dr. and Buena Vista. Adding medium and high density housing along this corridor could form the basis of a walkable town center while preserving single family home neighborhoods.
Build 21 Century Infrastructure – Engage in dialogue. Duarte should make an effort to be included in regional planning discussions, and should add its voice to regional efforts to persuade the state and federal governments to support regional initiatives and return a fair share of public infrastructure dollars to the region. Expand community-side programs promoting waste-reduction, recycling, composting, water conservation and other green strategies. Develop a ridership program to connect the planned Metro Gold Line station to local employers.
In terms of population, Duarte ranks 63rd of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County by total population with 24,000 people and almost 7,000 households. Of the total population, 57% are working-age adults 20-64; 26.3% are juveniles under 18. The City’s poverty rate is roughly half that of L.A. County with 7.4% living below the poverty line.
Duarte had over $365 million in taxable sale transactions in 2008, translating to per capita sales of $16,000, comparing favorably to the countywide figure of $12,800. Home ownership in the City of Duarte is much higher than in L.A. County, 72.4% are owner-occupied versus 48.9% in the county. The City of Hope and related medical industry establishments employ 3,551 people which accounts for 38% of the total employment in Duarte. Manufacturing and retail trade are also strong employers in the area for 2010, with 1,117 jobs in manufacturing and 1,139 jobs in retail. The recent recession affected employment in the City, which fell from 11,700 in January 2007 to 10,100 in January 2010.
A copy of the complete City of Duarte Economic Strategy document is available on the City’s website at www.accessduarte.com. For more information, call City Hall at (626) 357-7931.

August 1, 2011

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