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New Video Highlights Downtown Pedestrian Signage Project

Downtown navigation has a stylish new twist this year due to new wayfinding signage gifted to the City by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA). Twelve contemporary-looking signs designed by the Playa Del Rey-based firm Selbert Perkins now provide Downtown pedestrians with eye-level maps and icons indicating nearby attractions and public services.

A recent video highlighting the completion of the effort describes how the signs enhance the Downtown experience and support a unified identity. The new wayfinding signage is part of DLBA’s strategic plan to improve the Downtown pedestrian experience.

“There are a lot of different neighborhoods that make up Downtown and we do want there to be a cohesive sense of this place that is DTLB. The signs connect that and give a sense of place and where things fit in,” said Stephanie Gonzalez, DLBA Placemaking Manager.

According to Eric Lopez, City Director of Public Works, “There are a lot of great places that the city of Long Beach has to offer, but unless you are here every day, sometimes it helps to have a reminder. You come upon a wayfinding sign that reminds you of all the wonderful places that are nearby within walking distance for you and your family to enjoy. This project is aligned with Public Works mission and geared to make it easier and more enjoyable for residents and visitors to walk through and enjoy Downtown.”

DLBA funded the design phase of the pedestrian wayfinding system and partnered with the City to ensure new pedestrian signage is consistent with the overall Long Beach wayfinding system.




Pitchfest Business Incubator Award Winners Gain Knowledge and Capital

For the fourth year, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) and its partners have given a big boost to a group of new local businesses; After an extensive selection process, three innovative entrepreneurs will share in a grant totaling $20,000 to help them establish and develop their new businesses.  

DLBA partnered with California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with Farmers & Merchants Bank, to create the Pitchfest Business Incubator Award program, in which candidates participate in the five-week Entrepreneur and Small Business Education Series, then pitch their business plans to a panel of local economic and community leaders.  

“The Education Series really inspired me to build a business that can be successful for the long run,” said Incubator Award recipient Janine Solano. “The classes were well organized and each speaker was very informative. I really appreciated the social media class. It helped me understand how easy it is to use social media to advertise and build connections.” 

This year’s Incubator Award winners:

  • Elva Garcia, who was awarded $5,000 to help develop Mariscos El Compa Ivan, her family-style restaurant that will be serving authentic Mexican seafood in a beach-side location 
  • Saren Rem, who received $5,000 to support Sarenity Floral, her new floral studio in which she plans to teach in-person and online floral arrangement workshops in addition to selling floral arrangements
  • Janine Solano, who was awarded $10,000 to create Dopey’s Dog House, a pet supply kiosk in Shoreline Village that will meet the needs of the many pet owners who bring their dogs to visit the Downtown Waterfront.  

Pitchfest judges included Long Beach Second District Councilwoman Cindy Allen; Walter Larkins, Chair of the Long Beach Economic Development Commission; Loara Cadavona, Chair-Elect of the DLBA Board of Directors; Sam Pierzina, Chair of the DLBA Economic Development Committee; and Kourosh Davatolhagh, Vice President and Relationship Manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank. 

“Participating in the Entrepreneur and Small Business Education Series was incredibly helpful and inspiring,” said Elva Garcia. “I enjoyed learning the various aspects of starting a business, from the marketing plan to finding a location and negotiating a lease. This grant will have a huge impact on our family business.”  

The Business Incubator Award program will continue at least through 2023; Farmers & Merchants Bank committed $90,000 in grant money through that year. Meanwhile, DLBA is developing other grant programs to help nourish the Downtown small business economy. 

“We plan to launch a diverse set of new grant programs this year, including opportunities for retail pop-ups, entrepreneurs of color, and women-owned businesses,” said Austin Metoyer, Economic Development and Policy Manager for DLBA. “I am proud that DLBA is able to continue to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs to grow into successful businesses that will enhance our Downtown economy.” 




DLBA Staff Profile: Eileen Valencia

The Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) is gearing up for a new, post-pandemic era in Downtown, with many lessons learned and new opportunities for positive growth beginning to materialize. This is the atmosphere in which our new Administrative Assistant, Eileen Valencia, will be putting her passion for community to work, helping Downtown recover and thrive once again.  

“Eileen brings an eagerness to our team that is invaluable,” said DLBA Executive Assistant Kelsey Mader, who is Valencia’s primary mentor. “Her willingness to jump into uncharted territories is exactly what we were hoping to find when searching for a permanent Administrative Assistant. She has integrated herself seamlessly into the DLBA office culture as well.”

Valencia, who works at the front desk and is the first point of contact for guests, is responsible for helping with office needs and functions. Originally from Torrance, Valencia moved to Long Beach to pursue a business curriculum at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). While earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management, she began working for the Port of Los Angeles and developed her volunteerism, donating her time to the South Bay YWCA. She worked for a credit card company for several months during the pandemic, but soon realized that a data entry job was not for her. At DLBA, she is able to stay engaged with her main focus: being connected with the community.

“This is a great new starting point in my career,” said Valencia. “I love that everyone I work with at DLBA has a passion for helping the community. Everything we do here is community-focused. We are currently trying to figure out the best routes back to ‘normal’ in Downtown, including finding ways to host events where everyone feels safe. We are very excited to have people return to Downtown for shopping, concerts, and other happenings that showcase our ‘big city, small town’ feel.”  

During the pandemic, Valencia began volunteering her time fostering puppies that needed homes, and, in the process, adopted a puppy herself, which she named Elle. “I’m about to foster another puppy,” she said. “I hope we can find her a good home.”  




Spotlight on DLBA Board and Committee Members: Michael Vitug and Ryan La Rosa

Great communication is essential for the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA), which is constantly networking with Downtown stakeholders, City agencies, charitable organizations, and the general public. As part of our monthly series, DLBA is proud to introduce you to two individuals who bring solid communication backgrounds to their roles as Board Member and Committee Member, respectively.  

Board Member Michael Vitug is Executive Director of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Intertrend Communications, described as “a multicultural agency that understands the intersection of culture, emerging trends, and the interaction between brands and consumers.” Intertrend has been a mainstay of the Downtown business community for almost 25 years. 

Vitug, who emigrated to the USA from the Philippines as a child, grew up in West Covina, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. He became a DLBA Board Member out of a sense of duty to be involved with the continued improvement of Downtown. “As a member of the Board,” said Vitug, “I look to develop creative and innovative ways for Downtown Long Beach to ‘build back better’ for its citizens, businesses, and visitors.”

As Downtown re-opens, Vitug is keen on getting more acquainted with other Board Members as well as the workings of DLBA’s many committees. He hopes to team up and contribute to the revitalization of Downtown. “The reopening is great for everyone, both mentally and fiscally,” Vitug said. “I’m hoping we can apply lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic — such as workplace flexibility and al fresco dining — and help restore the diverse and vibrant Downtown environment.”

Vitug anticipates spending lots of his downtime with his family over the next several months. “I have a daughter who is leaving for college next year, so for the next 12 months life will be all about taking family trips — preferably Dodger games — and visiting colleges,” he said.   

 

Ryan La Rosa, a Long Beach native, is Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at Commune Communication, a Downtown-based advertising agency. He earned a degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University before moving to New York City and entering the world of advertising. 

“I worked for all the big firms and clients who are supposed to be glamorous,” La Rosa said. “It was not glamorous. That’s why my friend James and I decided to start our own thing. Commune just celebrated its seventh anniversary and while every day is not glamorous, we’re having a heck of a time and are incredibly proud to be contributing to Downtown Long Beach each day.”

La Rosa serves on DLBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee and the Strategic Plan Steering Committee. He hopes to inspire and contribute to a discourse about how Committee Members can effectively communicate with each other and with community stakeholders. “All of the Committee Members have amazing backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas,” said La Rosa. “A large part of Committee work is ensuring that these things come to light.”

An avid outdoorsman, La Rosa spends much of his off-work time in nature. “Give me a fly rod and my camper van and I’m pretty happy,” he said. “If I’m not doing an activity like this during my off-hours, chances are good I’m at home plotting the next mission.” 

To learn more about DLBA’s Board, Committees, and other involvement opportunities, click here.  




Tips to Help Take on the Ransomware Threat

The internet has revolutionized the way we communicate and do business. Unfortunately, it has also created opportunities for thieves to steal and scramble data, disrupt systems, and demand exorbitant ransoms. Just last week, the largest ransomware attack in history occurred, targeting a software supplier and crippling hundreds of U.S. companies.  

Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable; In fact, up to 70% of all ransomware attacks are perpetrated against small businesses. The average ransom paid by small businesses in 2020 was $6,000. At the other end of the spectrum was the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS, which just made an $11 million ransom payment to cybercriminals.  

As part of DLBA’s mission to preserve and cultivate a healthy and safe Downtown, there are several cyber tips for local businesses to safeguard data resources and protect their investments in the community. 

Cybersecurity has become an urgent priority for the City of Long Beach. Its Technology and Innovation Department (TID) is working to secure the City’s digital infrastructure, devices, and networks. 

The Department has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other regional agencies to exchange cyber threat intelligence and notifications of attacks. Danielle Mitchell, Communications Officer for TID, has relayed federal ransomware protection guidelines (see below) to local businesses, with one additional tip: “If you are a business that provides guest WiFi for your customers, make sure your guest WiFi network is separate from your business/financial network. Your Internet Service Provider can help you to partition the network.” 

The U.S. government regards ransomware hacking as a serious threat to national security. In an executive order issued last month, President Biden outlined the five best practices to help reduce the growing threat of cyber attacks: 

  • Back up your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.
  • Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware, in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk-based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.
  • Test your incident response plan: There’s nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?
  • Check Your Security Team’s Work: Use a third-party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.
  • Segment your networks: There’s been a recent shift in ransomware attacks – from stealing data to disrupting operations. It’s critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety-critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.

Click here to get more prevention tips from the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.  

 




What’s on Your DTLB Summer Bucket List?

Downtown Long Beach summer is a state of mind.

Locals can spend an 80-degree day at the beach in January, so with extended daylight, summer means more time for adventuring, relaxing, and enjoying the best parts of our neighborhoods. 

In the years preceding COVID-19, studies show that approximately six million visitors per year generated an estimated $300 million in overall economic benefit to the city. With conventions expected to come back in August and the Long Beach Grand Prix and Pow! Wow! in September, there is hope of a return to some sense of “normalcy” for the rest of the year. Until then, locals can expect in-person events to come back in full force like Third Fridays on Pine, Taste of Downtown, and other festivals. See the link at the end of the article to our DTLB Summer Photo Contest for a chance to win a $200 gift card to a Downtown Long Beach business of your choice!

With the economy finally reopened, many DTLB businesses are offering summer promotions that are focused on hyper-locals as well as regional neighbors. There are a variety of ideas to make summer in Downtown great and support our friends and neighbors, the small businesses of DTLB, to help rebuild.

Friday’s Farmer’s Market on the Promenade is the perfect locals’ field trip, while simultaneously knocking out a couple of chores. They are one of the oldest in the state, having celebrated their 41st year of weekly markets on July 4, 2021. 

Kelli Johnson, manager of the market, loves her Fridays in DTLB. “Until the prepared food vendors are back on site, no market trip is complete without lunch at Ammatoli, dessert at Romeo’s Chocolates, a quiche for the freezer at The Pie Bar, and stops in the East Village vintage shops and BYO refill store.” 

Golden Farms has a “bumper crop” of pickling cucumbers, 5# for $3.75, which can easily be turned into everyone’s favorite summer condiment. Try Johnson’s favorite cucumber recipe. Watch for other specials on their beautifully curated Instagram: @dtlbfarmersmarket.

As the sun starts making its appearance earlier, Shoreline Village is getting busier with people looking to stay cool near the water. “We’re so excited to see people back and feel fortunate that we have plentiful open-air, tons of patio dining, and things to do in the outdoors,” said Claudia Ayala, Assistant Property Manager, Shoreline Village. 

The arcade reopened after being closed for over a year. In addition, there are several fun activities – some with new weekly specials – like parasailing, bike riding, and harbor cruises for family fun adventures. 

It all begins at 9:30 AM at Twisters & Coffee with Wag n Walk Wednesday, where you can go for a leisurely stroll with new friends, with or without your dog, through Shoreline Village and down the scenic Shoreline Marina pedestrian path. You’ll also receive a free gift and two hours of free parking.

Next up at  12:00 PM is a free 30-minute harbor cruise with the purchase of lunch “to-go” from participating restaurants. Simply preorder lunch from the restaurant to reserve your seats. 

End your day by celebrating Wind Down Wednesday through the end of August where specials from various stores and restaurants, as well as live entertainment, are offered.

Speaking of live entertainment, the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel introduced two new weekend events over the 4th of July holiday. Saturdays will now offer background-appropriate DJs and musicians to add a little life to the lobby without turning off any regular diners. Sunday Outside Sessions at SIP (SOS @ SIP) now offers a patio party-vibe every Sunday from 2 PM-9 PM. Performers will be announced on Instagram: @sipbarlounge. 

David Arnieri, Senior Beverage & Food Operations Manager at Renaissance said, “The B+F Team is excited that summer has bestowed upon us the freedom to be able to get some fun activations to host groups once again.  After a long year and a half of not being able to program live music, events, and host crowds – we now are happy to bring to you and our guests our newly activated summer programming.” He added that events like these give locals and visitors alike an opportunity to mingle in a safe environment without putting on a full-scale event.

The Aquarium of the Pacific, the world-renowned aquarium, will offer a mix of virtual and live events to continue the educational fun for everyone. 

The featured exhibit for the summer, which only ran for three weeks last year due to the pandemic, is all about the world’s Coral Reefs. The exhibit also features a new show in its Honda Pacific Visions Theater, giving visitors the opportunity to experience a virtual dive and see coral reefs up close. 

“The Aquarium is thrilled to welcome visitors back after the closures due to the pandemic. In addition to our 12,000 animals and Coral Reefs exhibit, we have several fun events scheduled throughout the summer—some for guests of all ages and others just for adults. We can’t wait to see everyone, including our local members and supporters,” said Claire Atkinson, Senior Manager of Communications, Aquarium of the Pacific. 

Tune in on the first Wednesday of each month to take part in their virtual lecture series featuring experts in the science, conservation, and government fields, as well as artists, authors, explorers, and more. 

On the first Saturday of each month, consider volunteering a couple of hours of your family’s time to help restore the habitat of the Los Cerritos Wetlands. This is a great opportunity to visit and learn about the local wetlands, help the environment, and support the Aquarium of the Pacific. 

For those nights that you want to hit the aquarium for adult fun, check out the monthly Night Dive events. Night Dive is an adults-only (18+) event full of local bands rocking out right next to the fish, with DJs spinning in the Aquarium’s galleries, inspiring works of art, cocktails, and food trucks on the front plaza. 

For a double dose of Aquarium fun, purchase a Blue Whale & Sea Life Cruise + Aquarium of the Pacific combo ticket. On this three-and-a-half-hour cruise, you will hopefully get to see the endangered mammals, as well as dolphins, seals, sea lions, and other marine animals. 

Finally, get the opportunity of a lifetime to sit next to a penguin as it waddles outside its habitat before the Aquarium opens. Join an Aquarium educator and animal care staff for this private animal encounter.

Happy Adventuring!

 

A summertime note from the author (Justine), a local who works in Downtown:

When I was a pre-teen, my mom brought my little brother, me, and our rollerblades to the Belmont Pier to skate down the bike path to the Queen Mary nearly every week during summer. She even let us play hooky on especially beautiful days before school was out. We’d skate the 3-mile trek to Shoreline Village, win some prizes at Pelican Pier Pavilion, get pizza (where Gilan Pizza & Grill is now located) and a sweet treat from Ice Cream on the Boardwalk, and were always too tuckered out to skate back to the car. 

As an adult, my perfect DTLB summer day looks a little different: First, I’d pick up a Hoppy Iced Coffee from Recreational Coffee and head over to Natural Cultures for one of the prettiest Acai Bowls in LB. Once the Friday morning Farmer’s Market opens, I’d stroll through the market for some groceries and gorgeous summery flowers. It’s almost always happy hour at Big Catch Seafood, so I’d then grab some oysters and a beer before heading down to the rooftop pool at The Renaissance Hotel to catch some rays. The next stop is Risu for a refreshing cocktail, spicy shrimp tacos, and a gorgeous view of DTLB. I’d work my way down Pine Avenue to the swan boats at Wheel Fun Rentals to watch the sunset, and on to Rainbow Harbor for the award-winning ribs at Q Smokehouse. A summer day isn’t complete without a harbor cruise, so I’d hop on the free Aqualink water taxi to Alamitos Landing and back. Finally, I’d head over to Parker’s Lighthouse for a waterfront nightcap, key lime pie, and live jazz upstairs at Queensview Steakhouse.

What’s your perfect summer day in DTLB? Share your best summer-in-DTLB photo for a chance to win a $200 gift card to a Downtown Long Beach business of your choice! The winner will be randomly chosen and announced in our August Downtown Scene Newsletter. Submit a photo here.