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Long Beach Wins “Most Business Friendly City” Award

Long Beach has been named the 2009 Most Business Friendly City by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.  The Long Beach Post reports:

The City of Long Beach was named the Most Business Friendly city in Los Angeles County – with population over 60,000 – at the Eddy Awards last night, beating out six other cities for the distinction.

The winner is selected by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). This year marked Long Beach’s fourth straight nomination and first victory. The city was chosen over Downey, Whittier, El Hambra, Lakewood and Torrance.

“It’s a very prestigious award for this city,” said Robert Swayze, manager of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs, last night as he was leaving the award ceremony.

“Long Beach is an employment center and makes an investment in infrastructure that allows these [other] cities to thrive.”

The LAEDC offered no explanation for their decision, but Swayze pointed to the Port of Long Beach, which employs people not only within the city but the entire region, and its operation allows businesses in other cities to operate.

But 2009 has not been the best year for Long Beach, with an unemployment rate now over 12% and tough times for some local businesses.

“Unemployment is high throughout all of California,” Swayze countered. “We’re going to come through this. The investment that we’re making in infrastructure now will pay great dividends in the future.”

When Long Beach was announced as a finalist for the award in September, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Randy Gordon said that the city has a long way to go in regards to being business friendly, but pointed out that new tax breaks and enterprise zones have helped that cause.

“Without those changes, I don’t think we’re a finalist this year,” Gordon said in September.

Other cities with Enterprise Zones have won the the award in recent years. In 2008 the winner was Santa Clarita, and in 2007 it was Lancaster.

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