LA Mayor Garcetti and UK Consul General Cloke on the Value of FDI & Growth of a Sports Economy


Last month, the World Trade Center Los Angeles and the LA County Economic Development Corporation hosted its 6th annual Select LA Investment Summit to provide international and local business leaders with insights into the region’s investment ecosystem and opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI). VX News shares these opening remarks by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and British Consul General in Los Angeles, Emily Cloke, who elaborate on the strategic advantages the LA region affords international partners and the role that global sporting events will play in driving a sustainable economic recovery.

Eric Garcetti: To everybody that’s here: I love being the Mayor of Los Angeles. A member of the press asked me, “Are you qualified to be an ambassador? Have you done anything in International Relations? You’re just a mayor.” I said, …. Have you looked around the modern American city?” It’s as international as it is local. We see the face of the world on the streets of LA. That’s really the advantage that we have here.

Select LA is about the choices you pick between. I’ve got to say, there is no rational reason why you wouldn’t choose Los Angeles. Sure, a mayor is supposed to say that, but let me try to be as objective as I can. We’re at the crossroads of some of the most dynamic and growing economies in the world: the Pacific region and Latin America. We have ties to Europe and Africa with some of the largest diaspora communities of anywhere in the world.

We’ve all felt this past year the havoc of this pandemic but nothing has changed the simple truths and strengths of Los Angeles: a cultural capital of the world, a manufacturing and trade capital of America, and so much more. Right now, [the Port of Los Angeles] is the number one busiest port of anywhere in the world, which is a good problem to have because it means people want to come here. They want to come through here, their goods to come through here, and their ideas to settle down here.

 I’ve tried as your mayor to build a city of the future: a city of belonging where you feel you could own as much as a person who was born here; a testing ground; a place where we have frictionless bureaucracy, so if you want to test an idea we don’t get in your way, but if you need us to be around, we’re there with all we can.

There is a possibility today is my last time attending Select LA as Mayor. That’s not in my hands because only Senator Ted Cruz knows exactly what my schedule is, but we’re coming together after a profoundly difficult year and a half and still facing some real significant challenges. My message is steadfast today: don’t bet against LA.

In fact, I want to share with you just a few statistics. When we came out of the Great Recession over a decade ago, Los Angeles came out of that recession more quickly than California, and California more quickly than the national average. Guess what? We’re doing it again. Since the end of May 2020, employment has increased by 19 percent according to Bloomberg. It says that “greater Los Angeles-based employment has increased 18.6 percent since the end of May 2020, almost double California’s 9.9 percent increase, exceeding New York’s 15 percent, Chicago’s 12 percent, Houston’s 11 percent, Philadelphia’s 16 percent, Phoenix’s 7 percent, San Antonio’s 14 percent, San Diego’s 13 percent, and Dallas’ 15 percent. Austin, which captivated headline writers as the destination of choice for California Chief Executive Officers, as Tesla’s Elon Musk, remains an also-ran to Los Angeles at 16 percent.”

Of our 22 publicly traded companies here based in Los Angeles with at least a $1 billion market capitalization, we returned 33 percent this year through September 20th and 59 percent for the 12 months ending on that date, handily beating our peers again in New York, which was 27 percent, Chicago’s 56 percent, and 16 percent in Houston. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, we are winning on employment, valuation, and on the business side. Don’t take a politician’s word for it, take a data statistician’s word for it: Los Angeles is the place to invest, the place to work, and the place to be.

We know that LA is the perfect place to help us crest this wave because it’s what we do. We’re an optimistic place with great weather, great people, and a reflection of the world’s diversity. Nearly 290,000 new businesses opened their doors just over the last eight years before this pandemic. We’ve cut unemployment by more than half. We’ve reduced poverty by more than a quarter. We’ve tripled the number of housing starts.

Don’t get me wrong, you look at the streets after the pandemic, and it’s a tough look sometimes. We’re dealing with a housing crisis. But the fundamentals are so strong where we’re making those investments:

 If you look at transportation infrastructure, we’re building or extending 15 new rapid transit lines. We have an airport where we’ve invested $15 billion and counting. That’s kind of like doing open heart surgery while running a marathon because we have to keep it functioning while building ten new or renovated terminals and a people mover that will finally bring public transportation there. A port that, as I mentioned, is number one in the world. Water that makes us not stressed out about this drought because we will more than quintuple local water here in Los Angeles. Today, only 15 percent of our water is local, soon 70 percent will be. We’re making investments in energy to make us the first big city in America to be 100 percent renewable, and we’ll get 97 percent of the way there by the end of this decade.

While we raised our minimum wage help our workers out, we actually reduced our city’s business tax. This is a better place to do business. In the same year that we cut our emissions by 11 percent—the biggest emission cut of anywhere in America—we reduced unemployment by 14 percent. We’re seeing that those investments in a new green economy pay off. We know it’s good for our people and for our planet and for our economy. It all comes together here in LA.

Los Angeles has fundamental strengths that aren’t going anywhere. That geography I talked about, those people, the weather, that will be here for sure. But we’ve made irreversible investments in a strong foundation that will pay off for your investments as well. The $120 billion that we have for those 15 rail lines, you need a piece of that business. We’re taking a much more business-friendly approach. Instead of us giving you the blueprints to big on, we say, “we just want to get from Point A to Point B. How would you do it?” Bringing the brilliance of another country, another state, or working with someone right here in our own backyard to make that infrastructure, that investment, and that talent pays off.

Los Angeles is the Eastern Capital of the Pacific Rim, the Western Capital of North America, and the Northern Capital of Latin America. When you look at the future and the growth that is happening, LA is the place to be. In just a few weeks we’re going to be announcing some very exciting ways that we can bring together folks who want to invest here, study here, or just come as a tourist to be able to promote that together.

Los Angeles is the home you’ve been waiting for. Your second home if you’re not from here. We are doing everything we can to address this moment. We’re also investing in making this a livable city. When you come here, you won’t just come here for the bottom line, you will come here to enrich your soul and connect with something you’ve maybe never imagined or someone you’ve never met before.

I want to thank you all for selecting Select LA. Now is the moment to actually select LA and to come here with your ideas, your investments, and your people to be able to see your dreams come true in a city that’s always been rich with possibility.

When John F. Kennedy accepted the nomination from his party in 1960 at the Coliseum, he faced towards the Pacific Ocean at the Eastern Edge. He gave a very famous speech where he laid out the idea of a new frontier. He didn’t just talk about the new frontier in America, he talked about here, Los Angeles, being the last frontier. A place where people always came to find themselves, to find their ideas, and to find the future. I know that we will do that with you here together. It’s as true today as when John F. Kennedy said it more than 60 years ago.

Know that the help is here. You’ve got the technical know-how, the World Trade Center, City Hall, and a Board of Supervisors that wants to get it done. There are nearly 5,000 international firms across Los Angeles employing nearly 200,000 workers and translating to $18 billion in wages. We love foreign investment— we live off foreign investment—and in this city alone, nearly 70 countries and territories have a business presence accounting for 46,300 jobs. If you look at the diplomatic presence we have, this is the city with the third-most consulates in the world.

Double down on what you can do to drive here and to thrive here. Bring your innovations and your ideas. Make sure that you know that this is the tech capital of America. The only city in the world with three top 25 universities right here. The manufacturing capital where rockets are built that go into space. We just had the Prime Minister of Spain come and meet with all the Spanish employees at JPL, which is engineering rovers to put on that rocket to explore Mars.

This is a city where you tell your stories, where the green light is given to productions not just here, but around the world, so that humanity can see the stories of not just this city and of this country, but of this entire world. Companies like Saitex that opened up in Vernon earlier this year, bringing denim manufacturing back to LA along with 230 jobs. Even better, doing that with state-of-the-art technology, energy, water-efficient machinery.

In conclusion, I’ve talked a lot about what makes LA extraordinary from our natural assets, to our investments for the future, but I want to close my remarks by looking ahead at what’s coming to Los Angeles that may be of special interest to you. We’ll be hosting the Olympic Games in 2028 and the Paralympic games in 2028, the World Cup in 2026, the Women’s World Cup in 2027, and of course, we see a Super Bowl coming here this year, and another one just in the next decade. The Grammy’s are always here, the Oscars are always here as well. Two new venues: the Banc of California Stadium, which is home to the LA Football Club and SoFi Stadium, the most expensive stadium ever built in human history without a single public dime of subsidy. The next decade will be nothing short of amazing.

When the world comes here in 2028, think about your company. Think about what you want to show the world because this will be your stage just as it is for people who win the Academy Award. Think about who you want to be and what you want to show. It always happens here. Partner with us, engage with us. We are open for business. Never bet against LA, and always select LA.

Emily Cloke: I am so pleased to be with you here today to talk about the UK’s sports economy, our experience delivering top sporting events, but also most importantly how we can partner with you in LA as a host of mega-sporting events over the next decade. The UK, like the US, is a country that is passionate about sports. It is practically a national obsession. I’m one of those fans. Watching, playing, and celebrating sports is at the heart of British life. Sports like soccer— or football, as we say— rugby, and cricket have their origins in the UK and that translates into economic importance. The sports business contributes around $50 billion to the UK economy and employs over 1.2 million people.

But sports, to me, is so much more than that. Both in the UK or wherever I’ve worked and traveled in the world, I’ve found that it brings people together. Sports connects us; it unites us; it’s at the heart of our community. In the UK, like in the US, like in LA, we’ve got phenomenal sporting heroes both on and off the pitch. From people like English footballer, Marcus Rutherford, whose done such phenomenal work campaigning on issues like child hunger to 18-year-old tennis player Emma Raducanu, who inspired so many of us when she won the US Open a short while ago.

 Capitalizing on this passion for sports, the UK just hosted huge sporting events. 2022 alone will see us the Women’s Euro Football Championship, the Rugby League World Cup, and also the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which will be the largest sporting event that that region has hosted. We’ve heard a little bit about the 2012 London Paralympic Games. It is a great example proving the UK’s ability to host first-rate sporting events. Firstly, it is absolutely incredible, as you all know having hosted two, but the Olympics Games in your home city is just wonderful. I remember how electric the air felt back in the summer of 2012. How it also contributed to our national spirit and our excitement.

It is also the legacy of those games that has been remarkable. Having a meaningful legacy with a community impact was incorporated into the planning at the very start. London 2012 planned to use the Olympic platform to increase economic regeneration and to drive innovation. That considered approach helped generate a wealth of opportunities both in London and around the country that we continue to see today. To give you a flavor, using data pre-pandemic, 110,000 more jobs were created since 2012. More than 1 million people continue to visit the Olympic Park every year. Of 70,000 London 2012 game makers, over 35,000 continue to volunteer with their communities.

The children that watched those games back in 2012 have the ability to become the stars today thanks in part to the provision of sports facilities at community levels and also the wider legacy planning. Sites that previously have been derelict were repurposed for the games and have since become community hubs. Here East, an East London park at the Olympic Park, was rebuilt to hold 20,000 journalists during the games. Since then, Here East has become an amazing hub of entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation, hosting now leading educational institutions but also really dynamic businesses.

We in the UK want to help contribute our experience there to you, LA, as you plan for the 2028 Olympics. UK businesses have got fantastic expertise in delivering sporting events across the life-cycle wkith particular strengths in areas like sustainability, concept-envisioning, recruitment and training, planning and design, media communications, event planning, legacy planning, and more.

 A speech on sports has, of course, got to feature the great game and the beautiful game of football. The English Premier League is regarded by many as the best and most competitive in the world. I hear it is now the most popular soccer league among US fans, generating the highest audiences. It is also invested in and committed to the US soccer base and to the LA soccer base. This weekend, they will host with NBC a fan festival at the LA Memorial Coliseum, bringing together thousands of passionate soccer fans in Los Angeles getting up very early in the morning at 4:00am to watch this Premier League game. Through events like this, the Premier League is showing how it is committed to bringing unique viewing audiences to citizens here in LA, but also creating chances to meet the club. I know that the Premier League is also working with local clubs to help tell each other’s stories. I am finding it hugely exciting how soccer is growing in popularity with the continued success of the US National teams, with MLS, and of course the excitement ahead with FIFA 2026. I also personally really love seeing the growth of the National Women’s Soccer League, with clubs like Angel City and also the club that’s been announced in San Diego who both have British head coaches or sporting directors.

I also wanted to highlight today that I feel, and I’ve noticed since I arrived (in Los Angeles) a year ago, that the UK and LA are very aligned and united in our ambitions on how we deliver sporting events. We both want to deliver green and sustainable games. Staging and running a sport event can mean large crowds, it can mean energy consumption and large amounts of waste, but it can be done it a different way, and we need to do that for our planet. Last month, the British Consulate worked with the World Trade Center LA, who we have a partnership with, on an event to showcase UK/LA shared vision and expertise around delivering green games. We’ve got some brilliant work going on. The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is an example where it plans to host the first carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games.

The UK’s top international priority is tackling climate change and living in a more sustainable world. As the host of the UN’s Climate Change Conference, COP 26, we’re committed to hosting a COP that involves everyone in society and benefits everyone in society. One that brings innovation and commitment from all. Starting with businesses, it includes investors, citizens, cities, countries, and collectively working together to move the global economy to net zero.

At home in the UK, our prime minister has launched a ten-point plan which seeks to mobilize $15 billion in investments to create a green industrial revolution in the UK supporting a quarter of a million jobs. That includes in investing in a range of green sectors, like public transport, cycling, walking, energy efficiency in buildings, and accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles.

On that shift, we are also well-aligned with LA. Clean and sustainable transport is part of the infrastructure that we need to deliver these games. The UK has banned the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles from 2030 and we are investing in that transition. Our consulate has been working to bring the best of British innovations to LA streets. And over the last few years, we have brought over 40 top UK mobility companies to invest in LA. We have selected LA.

We at the British Consulate stand ready to work with you all. Those of you who are already in LA and those who are thinking about investing in LA on the sporting and associated opportunities that lie ahead.

We are already heavily invested in the LA economy. The UK is the second-largest foreign investor in California and LA County receives the largest share of that. On our latest figures, over 2,400 UK businesses bring more than 110,000 jobs across all major industries. We want that to grow. In our consulate, we have a brilliant trade and investment team that helps bring British exporters and investors to LA and also brings investment into the UK. That includes a dedicated focus on the sports economy. Thank you for having me and we look forward to strengthening the UK-LA partnership in the weeks, month, and years ahead.

“My message is steadfast today: Don’t bet against LA.… Los Angeles is the Eastern Capital of the Pacific Rim, the Western Capital of North America, and the Northern Capital of Latin America. When you look at the future and the growth that is happening, LA is the place to be.” — Eric Garcetti