Recent Transactions in LA

Business seems to be picking up and company growth is happening once again in the Los Angeles region.  While the entertainment industry was probably the hardest hit in the peak of the pandemic, thankfully now transactions are occurring in that sector. The examples we look at here are: AMC Entertainment and ESPN.

There will be two more AMC Entertainment locations in Los Angeles.  The cinema company (the largest worldwide) is taking over The Grove shopping complex 14-screen cinema as well as the Brand’s 180screen cinema.  AMC Entertainment entered into a transaction with Decurion which owns Pacific Theatre. Opening of the Grove theater (which three years ago was the 2nd highest grossing cinema) is anticipated for next month.

Anchors Neil Everett and Ashley Brewer will be connecting with ESPN.  Brewer will join the 1 am EST edition with Everett, Linda Cohn and Stan Verrett, moving from her position as host of SportsNation.

Los Angeles’ Economic Recovery: Jobs and Housing

We are seeing some positive upticks in the economic recovery around the world.  In Los Angeles – as in many other regions – there have been various ups and downs but latest news is indicating that at least in employment and jobs, things are looking up.

According to a recent report from the  UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, both the job and housing markets are showing strength in Los Angeles. The labor market in Southern California has returned 70 percent (52 percent nationwide) of the jobs that were lost at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Housing figures are likewise showing optimism.  In fact, housing has actually been one sector that has done quite well with the pandemic with the first quarter of 2020 having a 17.8% increase in median home price. In LA County sales jumped 117% and prices of homes increased 25%.

Businesses Coming Back!

Thankfully businesses and companies are being allowed to re-open.  A week and a half ago, the safety protocols that had long been in play due to COVID-19, were “retired” by Cal/OSHA, following CDC and California Department of Health most recent guidelines.

In related news, some other companies are showing signs of returning to life by creating a presence int eh region.  Apple® will be opening up a new retail store in downtown LA at the historic Tower Theatre. The company also launched an international initiative providing hands-on experience and mentorship to youngsters  with the opening of their new store.  According to Senior VP of Retail + People at Apple, Deirdre O’Brien:

“At every corner, Los Angeles bursts with creativity across the arts, music, and entertainment, and we are thrilled to build on our relationship with this special city. Apple Tower Theatre honors the rich history and legacy of this entertainment capital.”

Let’s hope this is the beginning of LA springing back to life, especially in the entertainment industry which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Facilitating Local Small Businesses

There are many ways to facilitate small businesses, especially in one’s locality.  Small businesses have often struggled to receive assistance but this has been heightened during the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this month a discussion was held between various officials on what resources the small businesses can access from various federal, local and state programs.  A webinar – CD12 Business Resiliency – was hosted by John Lee, LA City Councilor and attended by: Kathryn Barger (L.A. County Supervisor), Fernando Nieto (Los Angeles County Office of Small Business program manager), Brad Sherman (U.S. Rep.) and Suzette Martinez Valladares (Assembly member) among others. One option that was explored was the benefits small business owners can get from the county’s Small Business Concierge program which was created with the goal of helping new entrepreneurs with the first crucial steps in their business development.  

In addition there is the  Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) which offers personalized technical assistance, is a great resource of information, helps business owners with the bureaucracy of government contacts and can even give training to small businesses in the area.

Included in this plan is the recent signing by the Mayor of a $11.2 billion spending plan for the July 1 budget. Included in this budget is: $2.5- million for the LA Optimized Program (facilitating the digitization of local businesses);  to help businesses get digitized; $25 million for the Comeback program (offering up to $5,000 in grants to pay off debt, purchase new equipment and help with salaries); $5 million for the tourism and hospitality industries (following the huge damage that occurred in these sectors in the coronavirus pandemic) and $1.3 million for street vendors (facilitating their navigation of local bureaucracy as well as the provision of modernized carts so they can be legal and receive permits).

Technological Advancements in California

Mozes Konig has long been a believer in the potential Los Angeles has to offer tech companies.  “Many states are prime places for technological developments,” Konig said.  Mozes Konig is a businessman who has been making investments into technological sectors for some years. Having had a few problems with Interpol (which are now thankfully behind him), he is going full force into this niche.

He has seen a lot of developments in the Los Angeles and greater California area in the last few years and believes it is conducive to facilitating technological developments.  Technology is even being used to facilitate driving in the area – something that has put people off moving to the sunshine state in the past. “It’s true that there still are some kinks to iron out, but overall the technology is advancing fast and it looks hopeful that the driving pressure will soon be relieved in LA,” Mozes Konig said.

This is just one of the ways that advancing technology is helping Angelenos live a higher quality of life, and one of the reasons that Mozes Konig loves investing in this market.

Local Infrastructure Projects

More than $39m was allocated to transportation and infrastructure projects being undertaken by LA County. The money – given by the California Transportation Commission – was split among a few organizations, the most ($27.8m) of which was earmarked for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. With this money, 78 light rail vehicles, will be purchased and thereafter the possibility of purchasing an additional 39.

Five zero-emission battery electric buses will be purchased by the Long Beach Transit/Electric Commuter Express. That organization will use the rest of its allocated $6.5m to reach its goal of zero-emission over-the-road coach commuter route between Long Beach and UCLA.

The $5m given to the Los Angeles Regional Transit System Integration and Modernization Program is to be put toward the completion of the Vermont Transit Corridor’s environmental documentation.  Included in this will be a transit service from Hollywood Boulevard to 120th Street.

This money comes after the $924 million which was given in May in an effort to improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.  According to Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) Director Toks Omishakin:

“Caltrans is building a brighter future through a transportation network that serves all Californians. This significant investment will help us fortify and enhance our state’s vast network of highways, bridges, transit lines, bikeways and pedestrian routes.”

In related news, there is a chance that additional passenger rail service will be implemented for Las Vegas; a move that was endorsed by M.J. Maynard, CEO of Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.  He sees this as a further choice for those traveling to Las Vegas which will facilitate “congestion, improve our air quality and significantly enhance the overall visitor experience.”

Getting Angelenos Back to Work

COVID-19 resulted in thousands of Angelenos (along with the rest of the world) losing their jobs.  Now that there is an apparent lull in the pandemic, there is hope for getting locals back to work thanks to various endeavors undertaken by decision-makers and policy creators. 

One example of this was the Senate Bill 93 that Governor Newsom recently signed.  In it, he requested that hospitality employers re-hire the workers they had to lay off before they look to hiring new workers.  His signing of the bill was commended by the Service Employees International Union California which pointed out that this will likely benefit people of color and women who will be “first in line when their jobs come back as businesses reopen and that they can’t be retaliated against or passed up for younger employees.”

This policy is known as a Right of Recall Protection and has been adopted in various communities throughout the state of California.

In related news, the Senate now has a ‘Build Back Boldly’ budget, offering a rare chance to create an impressive transformation through California.  According to Senator Toni G. Atkins: 

“California has long led the nation on things like expanding health care for the middle class and undocumented immigrants, providing paid family leave and a higher minimum income, and establishing our own Earned Income Tax Credit.  With the Build Back Boldly budget, the Senate continues to prioritize smart investments that take care of Californians and take California into the future.”

The main goals of the proposal are: 0-3 childcare/education for all; the establishment of debt-free college for all; provide resources for non-profits and small businesses to recover completely post-COVID-19; transform homelessness by making home ownership and rental affordability a reality; healthcare affordable for all and an overall improvement in state systems.

Employment in LA, Pandemically Speaking

Los Angeles – like the rest of the country and indeed the world – has experienced huge loss in employment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.  One estimate puts the number for LA County at 1-in 8 workers with unemployment numbers, tripling from their regular count.

What is of note is where the jobs were lost.  Not surprisingly, is that the tourist and leisure industries have been most hard hit with a 33% loss compared to pre-pandemic numbers in entertainment, food, retail and tourism.  Overall, the pandemic peak of LA’s unemployment rate was 18.8% as compared with 10.9% pre-pandemic. It doesn’t seem so bad. Except when you look at the numbers for February 2020 (when employment figures were going up nicely), you see a mere 4.7% of unemployed and then when you compare that to the current numbers it is an increase in just one year of 232%.

So where is the good news in all this? Well, the successful vaccine rollout has resulted in LA County having moved to an orange tier and more re-openings are happening. This means that restaurants, bars, wineries, gyms, fitness parks, outdoor live events etc. can all begin re-opening which will of course hopefully result in a direct jump in re-employment numbers.

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis seems to indicate there is room for optimism:

“After a year of fear, anxiety and tragic loss, we’re seeing glimmers of hope once more, but this didn’t happen just by accident — this was because of our collective hard work. So, while we push to get as many people as possible fully vaccinated and have the finish line of this pandemic in sight, let’s make sure that we finish strong. Let’s enjoy our hard-earned opportunities in the orange tier responsibly. Let’s continue to wear our masks, stay physically distant and avoid large indoor gatherings, if possible.”