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The Top 10 Stories Of 2009

December 31, 2009

Demand for help at the Verdugo Jobs Center, which provides counseling and training for job-seekers in Glendale and Burbank, has skyrocketed, from an average of about 4,000 monthly visitors to more than 9,000 monthly.

Mervyn’s and Circuit City closed their doors this year, leaving massive retail spaces largely empty and inactive.

And two new office buildings, meant to attract progressive and environmentally conscious businesses to Burbank, sit empty.

The structures have combined to dilute the commercial real estate market with more than 800,000 square feet of empty space, pushing the city’s previous 3.5% vacancy rate to 17.7%.

And two tenants recently moved out of more than 500,000 square feet of rented space at Bob Hope Airport because of reduced business, a change that will result in lost revenues of about $800,000 annually for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

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8: That’s entertainment

Workers in the entertainment industry continued to face hurdles in 2009, a year after the Writers Guild ended a strike that had brought productions to a halt.

But after the conclusion of one strike, fears of another from the Screen Actors Guild in 2009 prompted major motion picture and television studios to cut back on some plans and influenced a focus on reality television and talk shows, experts said.

That shift, combined with the phenomenon of runaway productions, left many area workers in the entertainment industry without options for employment.

The industry, which accounts for the majority of economic activity in Glendale and Burbank, produced insufficient spending on labor, products and services to support some area businesses, many of which downsized significantly or shut down altogether.

From prop houses to rental shops and catering services, business was down as much as 70% as companies struggled to find demand in an industry where the pool of productions has decreased overall and has increasingly shifted outside of California.

Drawn by incentives and tax breaks from other states and countries, studios have opted to produce many of their projects elsewhere.

That could change as the recession has prompted some states to reevaluate how they have spent money to attract films and television shows and as California has begun an incentive plan of its own.

9: Teachers bear brunt of cutbacks

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