A little less than a year ago, I tasked First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner to lead a newly revitalized business team with one unequivocal mandate in mind: create jobs for hard-working Angelenos in our City. And one business and one policy at time, he has been doing just that by leveraging every resource at our disposal to attract local businesses and the jobs that come with them within Los Angeles City limits.
For the past nine months, we have been working together to expand State Enterprise Zones, create innovative tax relief for internet companies and new businesses, and empower small businesses with the tools they need to thrive. With each and every victory, we have been
untangling decades of red tape and burdensome policies that were impeding economic progress in our City to create a more business-friendly climate in Los Angeles.
Now, the results are in: our efforts are working. This weekend, Claremont McKenna released its internationally-recognized Kosmont-Rose Institute study announcing the top costliest cities in the United States. Last year, we were in top 10 and this year we are no longer on this list. What a difference a year makes!
The Kosmont-Rose Study serves as tangible validation of our progress and acknowledges our steady stream of policy successes as a major contributing factor in our improved ranking. Larry Kosmont, president and CEO of Kosmont Cos., a development services firm that co-sponsors the report, even publicly supported our innovative economic initiatives when he said "I think L.A. has actually made some progress for a big city. They are identifying the right task and they seem reasonably focused on it. I think that's a way for L.A. to become selectively competitive. To me, that's a move in the right direction."
With our momentum in the right direction, if we maintain our focus, we will be able to cement Los Angeles' place as one of the most business-friendly cities in the country. I know we can do this because I have seen it happen before. I have seen firsthand how progressive thinking and fearless leadership can completely change the direction of a city.
It's hard to believe it now, but a mere eight years ago Los Angeles carried the ignominious distinction of being the murder capital of the United States. In addition to unsafe streets, the scars of the Rampart Scandal had badly damaged the reputation of the Los Angeles Police Department, which was in need of a new direction. To address this, we hired William Bratton to be Chief of Police. Over the next six years, Chief Bratton undertook a Herculean effort to reform the LAPD from top to bottom. He changed the way the LAPD operated and worked hard to rebuild the Department's relationship with the communities it served. Crime rates went down dramatically and our neighborhoods became safe again.
It is important to note that these changes did not happen over night; they happened incrementally, over time, with sustained hard work and determination. Initially, Los Angeles started to inch out of the top ten most dangerous cities in America and eventually, we witnessed a 40 percent drop in homicides and a 29 percent reduction in violent crime.
Los Angeles is now on its way to becoming the safest large city in America.
It is also important to understand that these public safety gains have a direct correlation to the economic vitality of our City. Put simply, businesses are less likely to invest in Los Angeles if they perceive it to be an unsafe and unstable environment for growth. With this historic drop in crime, we have built a secure foundation for prosperity and we are now focused on building a city that offers a highly competitive operating environment for businesses to thrive and grow.
The Kosmont-Rose study shows that this is within our reach. With sustained hard work, we have already achieved what many once thought to be impossible - a safe City led by a reformed LAPD. Now, with that in place, we can harness the momentum for our pro-jobs and pro-business agenda for Los Angeles to flourish as the creative and innovative capital of the world.