Los Angeles Innovation Chief Outlines Plan to Make His City a Leading Tech Hub

Los Angeles Chief Innovation Technology Officer Peter Marx

Los Angeles Chief Innovation Technology Officer Peter Marx L.A. Mayor's Office


Connecting state and local government leaders

In an interview with GovExec State & Local, Peter Marx discusses how L.A. "will increasingly be recognized as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial cities in the world."

LOS ANGELES — Playa Vista might not be as well known as tech hubs like Silicon Valley or New York City’s Silicon Alley. But Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Chief Innovation Technology Officer Peter Marx want this Westside neighborhood near the Pacific Ocean to anchor the city’s burgeoning tech sector and foster continued economic growth across the nation’s second-largest city.

Just last week, Yahoo announced that it was opening a major new corporate campus in Playa Vista, which is also home to offices for Google, Microsoft and other tech companies.

"This move proves that L.A. is accelerating as a center of technology and entertainment," Garcetti said in his announcement that his city lured Yahoo’s Southern California operations hub from neighboring Santa Monica.

The concerted effort to bring major tech companies to Los Angeles is collaboration between Marx and the mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

It goes without saying that Los Angeles and the state of California have a lot going for them having great weather, natural resources and one of the world’s largest economies.

And officials at Los Angeles City Hall say that infrastructure is a big selling point for major tech companies. L.A. boasts the nation’s busiest port, largest municipal utility and second-busiest airport—Los Angeles International Airport, just a short drive from Playa Vista.

But it’s also home to a high concentration of residents holding doctorate degrees, making the city a natural fit for leaders in tech, energy and sustainability.

“L.A. is the most entrepreneurial city in the U.S. and we’re working hard to ensure that innovation happens here,” Marx said in a recent interview with GovExec State & Local.

Here’s the rest of our conversation with Marx where he detailed how city officials are working to make Los Angeles the nation’s top destination for tech companies and innovators.

GovExec State & Local: What inspired Mayor Garcetti's push to further establish L.A. as a "tech power player" as described in the Los Angeles Times?

Los Angeles Chief Innovation Technology Officer Peter Marx: The momentum, talent and resources are here in L.A. for tech companies to flourish. Larger than New York, Boston/Cambridge, and even Santa Clara County—the heart of Silicon Valley—L.A.'s tech economy has created 360,000 jobs here in L.A. and more than $21 billion dollars in tax revenue across federal, state and local levels. We have many world-class colleges and universities with renowned engineering and science schools who attract and graduate some of the very best innovators in the world.

GovExec State & Local: What are some of the unique qualities offered by Playa Vista that make it an ideal hub for these companies?

Marx: Playa Vista is a great location on the Westside, close to the beach and LAX [Airport], and has enough available space for companies to build their dream campus.

GovExec State & Local: What could the initiative mean for the L.A. economy, both within and beyond the tech community?

Marx: L.A. will increasingly be recognized as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial cities in the world. As one of the three places where the Internet itself was created, L.A. already has tremendous credibility in tech and numerous other industries. Our goal is to make L.A. “top of mind” when anyone in the world wonders where to create the next big tech business.

GovExec State & Local: How is the Office of Economic Development working with companies like Yahoo and Google to guide them to Playa Vista?

Marx: Our Office of Economic Development works closely with companies interested in moving to L.A.—it's a very hands on approach, including assisting with elements like the finding potential office real estate, and working with the Department of Building and Safety and Planning in coordinating build-outs.

GovExec State & Local: Los Angeles is obviously a major metropolis but it's also technically a local government. As the mayor and the OED work with these major tech companies, what advantages can a local government offer over larger bureaucracies at the state and federal level?

Marx: Our city can be the testing ground for technologies and ideas that could change the rest of the country, and even the world. An example is the idea of the “connected city” where the parking meters, the streetlights, the stop lights, and many other city assets provide services to people with their connected cars, smartphones, and connected homes. L.A. has 7,500 parking meters downtown that will tell you when they’re available. It has 4,500 intersections that report their traffic once a second in what is likely the largest automated traffic management system in the country. It has replaced 215,000 older streetlights with new mesh networked LED streetlights that save money and provide new services.

Eric Pfeiffer is a Los Angeles-based journalist who regularly contributes to GovExec State & Local and is former reporter for Yahoo! News and a current contributor to Yahoo.com.