As heavy as the last few years of transition have been for our organization, and frankly, all of Downtown due to the pandemic, I’m excited to report there’s a new energy at 120 W. Broadway.
As I contemplated what to include in this six-month report, thinking through the great feedback during my initial 90-day listening tour from board members, property owners, businesses, residents, community leaders and partners, it feels like the start of a significant turning point in the organization’s history.
With the renewal of the Property-Based Improvement District for the next decade, as well as its expansion north and down to the waterfront, we’re committed to keeping even more of Downtown clean, safe and thriving.
In the past 60 days, we’ve reorganized the team and added several new members. Next, we’re going to shift our reporting structure with the hiring of a Deputy CEO. The goal is to build an office culture of cohesiveness, creativity and camaraderie, to form a team that is more engaged with our community and has more tools to implement our plans to deliver on DLBA’s mission.
That’s the work we’re beginning to do, but there’s still a long way to go.
In 2023, we have plans to hire a Homeless Outreach Manager, a new position, solidify our Economic Development Department with more full time folks, as well as shore up resources within Communications and Marketing.
It’s reassuring to see that the City of Long Beach has recognized the level of urgency we’re facing regarding homelessness and the need to house people swiftly and eliminate barriers for housing production.
With the recent break ins and burglaries, my hope is to work with Mayor Rex Richardson and Long Beach City Council to look more closely at prevention and why these incidents are happening, while continuing to provide grants for storefront repairs.
DLBA will also continue to partner with local organizations, such as Care Closet Long Beach, to support our unhoused neighbors.
Economic and business development
While we’ve had some concern with vacancies in the restaurant industry, we’re seeing more interactive entertainment options pop up, such as Bad Axe Throwing, PanIQ Escape Room, virtual golfing with Birdies n Brews and TopGolf Swing Suite at Courtyard by Marriott.
This increase in services geared toward residents and community building is an industry cluster our new Economic Development and Policy Manager will look at developing, among other opportunities to fill in some of the gaps we have right now in our storefront economy.
Through our work in developing the Strategic Plan, we shifted our role away from producing a large number of events in Downtown and instead focused on sponsoring events. I still stand behind this decision, but I don’t think it means pulling away from our responsibility to build community.
We’ll still look to support events through sponsorships, especially those that drive foot traffic and bring people together, but we’ll also look at opportunities to create new events that are reflective of our growing Downtown community, especially family friendly events, such as movies and concerts in Lincoln Park and on Pine Ave.
In 2023 we are refocusing our efforts on promoting not just Downtown as a whole but highlighting each of its unique neighborhoods.
DLBA’s Communications and Marketing team has plans to build out the profiles of each neighborhood, while talking to business owners and residents about why they’re in Downtown with the goal of sharing those stories.
Staff will also focus on partnering with organizations such as the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Long Beach Economic Partnership, and the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to leverage our collective resources to market Downtown regionally, statewide and nationally.
Implementation of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Framework
Part of the new DEIA framework, and what we’re still working to understand, is the background and lived experiences of our board members, the demographic makeup of Downtown and our business community and how to reconcile those data points in our recruitment process, as well as economic development programming and business support.
Once we have this information, we will reconvene the DEIA Steering Committee, composed of community members, to have those hard conversations about DLBA’s role in the community, its stance on policies and how to collectively agree on where and when we need to take action.
On a personal note
I feel like there’s a lot of expectations for how DLBA is going to change after appointing its first new CEO in 25 years. My challenge is to balance how quickly that change needs to happen with realistic constraints.
However, every day, I remind myself that business owners don’t get to take a day off. I remember witnessing, especially during the height of the pandemic, everything they had to sacrifice just to keep their doors open.
I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t think my vision for Downtown was also shared by the community. I’m sure there will be bumpy times ahead, but I have a very positive outlook for Downtown in 2023 and beyond.
Thank you for placing your trust in me, the DLBA staff and the future of Downtown Long Beach. We take this responsibility seriously and look forward to continuing to work together toward its revitalization. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any feedback or questions.
Austin Metoyer, DLBA President and CEO