Austin Metoyer, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA)’s Economic Development and Policy Manager, has been a dedicated champion for the economic wellbeing of the Downtown community since he joined the organization in 2016 as Research & Policy Manager. What set him on this career path may come as a surprise to some – one of Metoyer’s childhood passions, anime, is what ultimately led him to study business. Inspired by the intricate Japanese cartoons, Metoyer started studying Japanese as early as middle school. By the time he graduated from Long Beach Poly High School years later, he was envisioning himself in the world of  international business.

Metoyer went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business with an emphasis in Japanese from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in 2011. After graduating, he served in several internships, did work with the National Foreign Trade Council, and worked for Brailsfords and Dunlavey, a real estate planning firm in Washington D.C.

These activities influenced his transition into small business advocacy, which led to his return to Long Beach and his job at DLBA. He also returned to school, earning a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2020. “Long Beach will always be home to me, so I had always planned on leaving D.C. and coming back at some point,” Metoyer said. “Having the opportunity to work for DLBA gave me a chance to have a direct, tangible impact on my community.

“DLBA pulled all my experiences together,” he continued. “I’m looking at the various components of small businesses and how they operate, and advocating for those businesses to the Long Beach City Council and local elected officials,” Metoyer said. “On the real estate side, it is a matter of understanding what it takes to make a project pencil in Downtown, and how different asset types like retail, residential, and office developments play into each other.”

As Economic Development and Policy Manager, Metoyer serves as a liaison between the Downtown business and commercial real estate communities and the City of Long Beach, assisting them with permitting, entitlement, and approval processes, and connecting them with technical assistance and financial resources. He also supports DLBA advocacy efforts to push for policies that aid in the expansion of Downtown commerce by attracting new businesses and property developments and retaining existing ones.

Metoyer is struck by the resilience of the Downtown community during the COVID-19 crisis and the civil unrest of last spring. “Almost a year out, the strain on businesses is visible due to the ongoing burdens of the pandemic, but you can still see the spirit and grit among Downtown business people who are trying hard to maintain their livelihood,” he said. “After the civil unrest, the entire community came together to help clean up, fundraise, and provide moral support for our Downtown businesses. I’m impressed with the Downtown business community and the Long Beach community at large for sticking together during this time.

How much does Austin love anime, you ask? Here he is playing Pokemon Sword on the Nintendo Switch, decked out in a Cowboy Bebop shirt, while watching Gundam Wing. Displayed on his TV stand are collectors’ edition Pokemon cards and the Green Ranger’s Dragon Dagger. Yes, there will be a quiz on this.

“I love working at DLBA,” Metoyer continued. “My colleagues here are passionate about their work. Everyone really tries to connect with one another, and I really appreciate that.”

In his spare time, Metoyer continues to deepen his enthusiasm for anime. He has traveled to Japan several times, and, as a silver lining to the stay-at-home orders, has been expanding his anime show selection. “When I was younger, there were only a handful of shows available,” he said. “It was a small, niche thing. Now, because of the internet, there are so many new shows to watch on so many different platforms.

“As I’ve gotten older I’m finding more and more relatable themes in the shows: the purpose of life, moral issues, what it means to be human,” he added. “I still get sentimental over scenes I first saw many years ago. To me, anime is the complete package, with storytelling, perfectly constructed musical scores, and amazing animation.”

After a busy day spent advocating for Downtown small businesses, Austin can be found at his home in Long Beach, relaxing with his partner, Justin, and their dog Mochi.