Limitless Long Beach
In a recent New York Times article, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said of his City, “the downtown is being reborn and recreated.” Indeed, Long Beach has undergone an impressive revitalization in recent years, transforming its historic downtown into a desirable urban environment on the water and building upon its rich tradition in aerospace, manufacturing, and shipping. People often associate Long Beach with its Port, and for good reason – it is one of busiest in the United States moving more than $100 billion in goods in 2017 and creating 1 in 8 jobs in the City. Yet, Long Beach’s strong Port is only part of what makes the City a great business destination.
Long Beach has close to a half a million residents and is the seventh-largest city in California, with a population exceeding that of many other well-known American cities, such as Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and New Orleans. The City has a highly diverse population, a temperate climate, quality state and community colleges, a vibrant downtown and a wide variety of neighborhoods. Together, these features help make Long Beach one of the most livable communities in the country. The City is also undergoing an economic development renaissance and real estate boom.
Today Long Beach is one of Southern California’s best business destinations – and a growing number of investors and business leaders are jumping on the many opportunities it has to offer. The City’s location, access to infrastructure and markets, real estate opportunities, and talent are all drawing considerable interest and excitement.
What makes Long Beach an attractive business destination?
Business Friendly: One of the most business-oriented cities in the U.S.
Large Market: Population of 470,000+ on the California Coast
Prime Location: Ideally situated between L.A. and Orange Counties, with direct access to the nation’s largest port complex
Expansive Opportunity: Numerous development sites available
Faster Processing: Streamlined pre-development and entitlement process
Innovation and responsiveness in service delivery
Long Beach is a transportation hub with unparalleled access to local and global markets. The City is located between Los Angles and Orange Counties (and their combined 13 million residents), close to three airports, the twin ports of Long Beach and L.A., multiple freeways, and rail lines. The Port of Long Beach is also nearing the end of a set of 10-year, $4.5 billion capital improvement projects that will make it more technologically advanced, capable of handling even larger and more efficient cargo ships. The City also has its own full-service commercial airport, which has become a traveler-friendly alternative to other busy Southern California airports. Los Angeles' rail transit system, the Metro Blue Line, has numerous stops within Long Beach and throughout the region, including downtown L.A., and has a $1.2 million makeover planned for 2019 that will further decrease transit times.
To put it quite simply, as Long Beach Economic Development Director, John Keisler has said, Long Beach is about “building stuff and moving stuff.” He adds, “Transportation and manufacturing have always been huge for us.”
Long Beach’s Real Estate Boom
Long Beach has nearly three-dozen development projects, valued around $3.5 billion, underway or in the pipeline. Projects range in scope from the construction of the Long Beach Civic Center that will include a new City Hall, Port of Long Beach Headquarters, and park; to the 35-story Shoreline Gateway residential tower; to the $15 million overhaul of the historic luxury liner the Queen Mary and adjacent entertainment complex on the Long Beach waterfront. All told, the City is set to add an additional 3000 residential units.
Today, there are a number of sites that have yet to be developed or repurposed, which include Boeing’s 87-acre site where C-17 airplanes were built.Next to the airport there is another 1.8 million square feet of vacant hangar space. The City is working to reposition and reuse the site, which may include rezoning to prepare it for the factories of the future.
Emerging Technology Cluster
An emerging cluster is forming centered on aerospace, commercial space launch providers, and ocean and water technologies (“blue tech”) at and around the twin ports of Long Beach and L.A. and their respective neighborhoods. While American ports as a whole have lagged behind other international ports in creating and attracting companies, the San Pedro Port complex may now be catching up with its complimentary innovation clusters:
In 2017 Virgin Orbit, founded by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, launched a new commercial space company that offers low-cost launch services for small satellites.
In 2017, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the California State University, Long Beach, was founded to foster startup businesses in the City.
Along the LA Waterfront on the other side of the San Pedro Bay a number of recent announcements demonstrate the region’s growing strength in “blue tech” and aerospace:
SpaceX will manufacture and assemble the company’s new Big Falcon Rocket at the Port of Los Angeles at an 18-acre site where ships were built for World War I.
AltaSea, a 35-acre Innovation Campus at the Port of Los Angeles, will work to advance the region’s economy through water and ocean related business, science, and educational activities.
Boeing’s Echo Voyager submarine, which will be used to inspect underwater infrastructure, create 3D underwater maps, and take water samples, will be housed at the AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles.
Long Beach is Limitless!
With its world-class transportation infrastructure, vibrant real estate opportunities, and burgeoning technology ecosystem, Long Beach has a host of opportunities to offer a wide range of business interests.
Eric Eide is a strategic advisor to MAPLE Business Council and principal of TradeWorks Global.