Mayor Robert Garcia Marks One Year in Office Today
Releases important data on economic development, education, civic engagement and livability
Dr. Robert Garcia marked his first anniversary as Mayor of Long Beach, one year after taking office on July 15, 2014, with the release of important figures and accompanying graphics (included here as an attachment) demonstrating the success and achievements of the past 12 months.
“I’m proud of our accomplishments over the past year, and looking forward to building on this foundation over the coming years,” said Mayor Garcia. “We are starting to see really positive changes throughout the city, and we are going to work hard every day to ensure that trend continues.”
Mayor Garcia pointed to the lowest unemployment rate since before the 2008 recession; a balanced budget; hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, including new manufacturing, market rate residential units, and nationally known retail brands; the renaissance of downtown; an improved, more collaborative relationship with the Port of Long Beach; vigorous attention to publics works issues like potholes and graffiti; the creation of 400 new preschool spots; more than $8 million invested in new park projects; a brand new city website; successful water conservation efforts; reduced homelessness; and 116 new city commissioners, as well as many other accomplishments to demonstrate the positive trends happening in Long Beach.
Since taking office, Mayor Garcia has focused on four key areas: economic development, education, civic innovation, and livability and sustainability. The graphics attached also focus on these four areas.
For economic development, Mayor Garcia touted increasing employment, the arrival of Virgin Galactic and Shimadzu at Douglas Park, the investment of more than $65 million at the Pike and the entry of Nike, the Gap, Forever 21 and H&M into that location. He also pointed to the increased volume at the Port, which is approaching pre-recession levels; record tourist visits creating more than $300 million in economic activity; and Long Beach’s Innovation Team, which is funded by a $3 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“When we needed a new home for our LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle program, we went looking for somewhere with a great pool of local talent and an excellent history of aerospace innovation,” said Steve Isakowitz, the President of Virgin Galactic. “Since moving in to our new facility in Douglas Park a few months ago, we’ve been incredibly pleased with the warm welcome we’ve received from the Mayor’s office, from other community leaders, and from the local workforce. Our building is quickly filling up with talented and experienced workers who are happy to call Long Beach home.”
Garcia also announced that the City had seen more than 5,600 new jobs and more than 2,200 new businesses open, as well as more than 2,500 residential units completed or under construction, figures not previously released, and told reporters the FY16 budget would see a small surplus – not the deficit that had been previously projected.
On education, the Mayor announced that more than 400 new preschool slots have been created, with another 400 expected in the coming months. He also pointed to more than $5.5 million raised to support internships, a critical piece of the Long Beach College Promise. The City became a full partner in the Promise last year as one of the Mayor’s first acts, and preschool was added to the work of the Promise at the Mayor’s behest.
LBUSD Superintendendent Chris Steinhauser praised Mayor Garcia’s efforts on education. “Robert Garcia has been a great champion of education as a full partner of the Long Beach College Promise. Because of his efforts, our college promise is the gold standard of local collaboration to close the achievement gaps and support students.”
Civic innovation was expanded with the city’s new website, which uses up to date technology and user interfaces to greatly improve the experience of residents, businesses and visitors seeking information. Garcia also pointed to a soon-to-be launched Open Data initiative, the appointment of 116 commissioners, and the creation of two new commissions and the new Technology and Innovation Department.
James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said, “We are pleased to partner with the City of Long Beach and look forward to continued collaboration with Mayor Garcia and the new Long Beach Innovation Team. We know that dedicated innovation capacity helps mayors to deliver big and bold impact on the issues that matter most to citizens, and are excited to see what the Mayor and the i-team will do for the citizens of Long Beach in the years ahead.”
Garcia announced that 301 previously homeless veterans had been provided permanent housing, and pointed to the 16% drop in water use, the new pedestrian beach path, and the use of the Go Long Beach smart phone application, which he first proposed in 2010 as Councilmember, to address more than 22,000 service requests, as evidence of improved livability.
These figures and others are included in the attached graphics.
“I love Long Beach and I love being Mayor,” said Garcia. “I want to thank all those people and organizations in the community who have supported the efforts of the City, without whom these accomplishments would not have been possible.”