For more than a century, Southern Californians have dreamed of their region becoming the headquarters of a major global city. In the early 20th century, Henry Huntington, who built much of the area's first mass transit system, proclaimed that Los Angeles is destined to become the most important city in the world. Of course, builders from other cities — St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago, and even Cincinnati, Ohio, have made similar predictions.But L.
A. not only did the region grow rapidly over the previous century, and now stands as the second largest population center in North America, but it dominated a large number of fields, particularly entertainment and aerospace, and had a major influence on energy, fashion and manufacturing. But it was a connection to the Pacific Rim that made L. A. stand out from its Midwestern rivals such as Chicago.
This is something that they never enjoyed.In the 1980s, when I was writing my first book, California Inc., Hollywood was still seen as the center of the global entertainment industry. However, this industry is becoming more and more dispersed both domestically and internationally. In fact, this region's share of film and television production has plummeted in recent years according to the California Film Commission largely as a result of film and television moving to Canada, Louisiana and other less expensive locations. Before 1980, Southern California's global emergence depended on more than just Tinsel Town.It was once the center of the global aerospace industry but this old axis has diminished as both industry headquarters and production have moved away.
More than 90,000 aerospace jobs have left Southern California since the end of the Cold War about 25 years ago. The region also retains a foothold in the U. S.'s global automotive industry base particularly for design and marketing for some Asian car manufacturers. However, Nissan moved its U.
S. headquarters to Nashville Tennessee a few years ago and more devastatingly Toyota -the world's largest automotive company and a constant technological innovator- moved its U. headquarters out of Torrance.Surprisingly though, The Startup Genome project ranked Los Angeles as the second strongest startup ecosystem in the United States ahead of Seattle, Boston and New York. Entrepreneurship is still here although there is a lack of capital and support from government or non-profit organizations - elements seen in other regions.
Overall Southern California has been losing ground to other regions in terms of employment - something even recognized by a recent commission composed of many of the region's top business and political leaders which concluded that the region is barely stepping on water as the rest of the world moves forward.A deeper challenge comes from The Bay Area which shares with Southern California a Pacific Rim location and a pleasant climate. If Hollywood is synonymous with the global entertainment industry then Silicon Valley connotes the same for technology - it is home to companies that overwhelmingly dominate the list of technology leaders such as Intel, Apple, Oracle, Google and Facebook. Many companies including some from Asia come up with an idea and as one Malaysian businessman said originate in Asia incubate in The U. S.
The Bay Area is home to North American headquarters of global technology firms such as Samsung and Nokia and major technology firms in other cities often have their key R&D functions in The Bay Area too. Even money-making companies like Wal-Mart are increasing their presence in Silicon Valley. Although Silicon Valley companies are increasing their employment base in places like Salt Lake City and Austin Texas The Bay Area maintains its dominance and control over the industry - similar to how The Financial Industry remains heavily centralized in New York despite migration of many jobs elsewhere.In The Future our region may face powerful competition from Washington D. C.
Later on we can also face a challenge from The State Of Washington - Seattle which has never been a serious competitor with a strong technology sector and retailers of well-known brands such as Costco Starbucks and Nordstrom is increasing its global presence as Southern California seems to shrink. Its twin ports Tacoma and Seattle could present a long-term challenge for The Still-Dominant Ports Of Long Beach And Los Angeles too.What must be done to preserve and improve The Global Status Of Southern California? Does anyone still care? The entrepreneurs and developers who built this region would likely support new regulatory and infrastructure reforms that could strengthen The Industrial Entertainment And Commerce Sectors - unfortunately it is doubtful that The City's current leadership focused on trying to build a fake New York or an Ecotopia in The Midst Of Economic Decline even understands The Nature Of The Challenge but adopting 20th century solutions won't be enough either. Los Angeles' greatest resource - its diverse and motivated population - must be allowed to flourish as part of our globalization strategy - our business ties with Vietnam China Mexico The Former Soviet Union And Elsewhere could prove critical to restoring our international status - we must remember that big global cities are created by The People Who Live There - what we need to do more than anything else is to show that Southern Californians can contribute to rekindling The Momentum That Once Made This Region The Emerging Superstar On The World Stage.