The way City Councilman Rex Richardson likes to tell it, the tale of Long Beach can be described as a tale of two cities: the haves and the have-nots.
He’s hoping to chip away at the inequities that create that gap, and his council colleagues supported his plan to do so when they unanimously voted to approve the Everyone In Economic Inclusion Implementation Plan at the council’s Tuesday, June 11 meeting.
Richardson first started to work on creating the plan with the Everyone In initiative in 2017. Through a series of roundtables where community members got a chance to provide their input, his office was able to compile the document, which includes five recommendations for Long Beach.
Those recommendations are:
- Foster homeownership by supporting community-based organizations’ efforts to become Homebuyer Counseling and Education Centers certified by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department;
- Support local small businesses by establishing a Municipal Small Business Council that would provide free assistance and advocacy;
- Streamline processes for working with local, small and diverse businesses so they can make up a larger share of companies earning city contracts;
- Develop a plan to expand and deploy workforce development services to existing teen centers across Long Beach;
- Help establish a Community Development Corporation that would support financial empowerment in North, Central and West Long Beach.
Richardson said that some of those items have already received council support, but he felt it was important to lay them out in a strategic plan to show how different aspects of economic inclusion can work together to improve Long Beach as a whole.
Although some of those items, like creating a Small Business Council or a Community Development Corporation, may take some time, Richardson said others offered easy opportunities for quick action.
Adding more resources to teen centers, on the other hand, should take less work, he said.
Along with approving that plan, the council also unanimously supported asking city staff to look into creating Economic Empowerment Zones in North, Central and West Long Beach, which Richardson said could help spread the city’s economic gains more evenly.
“This benefits the overall growth of Long Beach,” he said. “This is really about taking advantage of opportunities that we haven’t taken advantage of to our best ability.”
Economic inequality in Long Beach — like economic inequality in every major city — was created to some extent by generations of such racist policies as red-lining, Richardson said. So, he added, it’s about time to use policy to right those wrongs and make Long Bach a better city as a whole.
“A rising tide lifts all ships,” he said. “We should take advantage of the biggest opportunities we have.”
Check out the Implementation Plan here.