La Kretz is L.A.'s HP Garage

Look out Mountain View and Cupertino, La Kretz Innovation Campus in the Arts District is closing hard.

La Kretz is L.A.'s HP Garage.

It is the place where L.A. entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and policymakers are collaborating, promoting and supporting the development of clean technologies and L.A.'s green economy.

The Innovation Campus was where I was Friday morning, listening to L.A.'s Storyteller in Chief Mayor Eric Garcetti and others talking optimistically about this unusual collaboration between entrepreneurs, the City, LADWP and the private sector.

The Mayor and the other speakers' enthusiasm is infectious and deservedly so. I hope that enthusiasm extends to Measure M for which the Mayor gave a full-throated plug.

Measure M is the County transportation initiative on the November ballot. While with any luck the Republican nominee won't be on the ballot come November, Measure M will be, and Los Angeles voters need to support it so that we remain economically viable as a region.

In this time of national division, how great it was to see the mutual admiration the La Kretz partners feel for one another, at least as far as it extends to La Kretz. The current mayor even gave a nice shoutout to former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who spearheaded the Innovation Campus idea during his term in office.

Other than a glitch with the scissors at the ribbon cutting, the event went off flawlessly. Maybe someone at LACI, the non-profit housed at La Kretz which is helping promising cleantech companies deliver market-ready solutions and further economic development, should help develop a better pair of scissors for the City.

After the speeches and ribbon cutting out on the solar covered parking lot, it was time to tour the facility. The 3.2-acre campus features 30,000 square feet of co-working space, 30,000 square feet of lab space, a 175 kilowatt solar farm, a micro-grid research and development center and an advanced prototyping center complete with electronics, chemistry, welding and wireless labs and a 3D printing and laser shop. The Innovation Campus also houses classrooms for job training and a smart home model demonstrating technologies that can save you money on your LADWP bill.

As impressed as I was by the fabrication labs and other displays, I was equally taken with the diversity of innovators housed at the former furniture factory. For example, CicLAvia made the cut because it is an unusually successful example of collaboration in our sometimes siloed and balkanized city. They looked busy getting ready for next Sunday's Heart of LA open streets event in Boyle Heights, Chinatown, DTLA, and Westlake.

River LA and Climate Resolve are two other non-traditional entrepreneurial organizations that would not likely find a home in a similar business incubator elsewhere. All of the resident entrepreneurs are expected to give back to the La Kretz community by sharing their knowhow and experience.

Like La Kretz, Arts District Park adjacent to the Innovation Campus, is an encouraging feature of L.A.'s transformation. Irrigating the park with greywater is a nice touch. The unfortunate discovery of heavy metals in the soil, remnants of the site's heavy industry past, required remediation and has delayed the park's opening.

To borrow an overused term from a highly disruptive technology to describe LACI and La Kretz, the project looks like an uber successful collaboration.

Yours in transit,
Joel