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Creativity is number one industry

November 23, 2005|By By Vince Lovato

Jack Kyser addresses businesses in keynote speech at the Hilton Glendale.GLENDALE -- As long as creativity is the power that drives the region's economy, Glendale and Burbank should continue to enjoy strong economies. The challenge is to ensure the region has enough trained workers and affordable housing while finding the right balance between retail and manufacturing.

Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., brought that message to local business and city leaders during his keynote address at the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board's Business and Economic Forecast and Workforce Summit at the Hilton Glendale on Thursday.

"You may think our No. 1 industry is entertainment," Kyser said. "But creativity is our No. 1 industry."

That creativity has driven up personal income and housing costs, and though the area has lost manufacturing jobs the amount of products manufactured is up due to higher workforce productivity, Kyser said.

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Local people who want to see continued economic growth have to support products created in the area.

"Support things that are made in Los Angeles County," he said. "'The Poseidon Adventure' was made in Burbank. The reviews are bad but you should go see it anyway."

But the rosy picture of the area's economy is only as productive as its workforce, Keyser said.

"It is important to know what we should train our workforce for," he said.

He said employers he has polled said they need employees who can write, read and speak English well and have workplace manners and computer skills, he said.

Also, cities that bend over backward for retail need to reevaluate the value of light manufacturing versus retail. Retail supplies strong tax revenues for cities but light industry creates better-paying, long-term jobs, he said.

He was also concerned with the cost of housing that might be forcing younger home buyers out of the market.

"We just don't know how to do affordable housing," Kyser said.

Kyser's message resonated with local officials, who are grappling with the effects of increasing office space vacancies in Glendale, concerns over Brand Boulevard construction and promoting more foot traffic downtown.

Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian said Kyser's words were mostly encouraging.

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