Long Beach Sets Out to Build Its Own Tech Community

The Long Beach City Council wants to partner with the local technology experts to create a commission focused on building a thriving tech economy there.

Long Beach CAThe 11-member commission would be charged with coming up with new ideas, assessing proposals for investing in technological innovation and infrastructure, and advising the city on new technology.

The proposed civilian Technology and Innovation Commission would have one representative for each of the nine council districts and two at-large seats. It’s seeking input from tech entrepreneurs, software developers, educators and others.

Council members of Long Beach, which has an 11.3 percent unemployment rate, believe that technology will be the source of new jobs. Indeed, the Tech America Foundation reports that the tech industry in California created 17,700 net jobs between 2011 and 2012.

But the city also wants to hang on to the tech expertise it has.

“We have seen first-hand that we have a lot of talent in this area being transferred out of the area to places like Santa Monica and Los Angeles, where a strong technology hub has already been established,” Robbie Brown, co-founder of WE Labs, a co-working community that supports tech startups in Long Beach, told the Orange County Register.

Once known for its naval base and shipyard, Long Beach’s ranks of unemployed will soon grow as Boeing shuts down production of the C-17 in 2015. More than 2,000 jobs are on the line at the Long Beach facility.

The city, however, has won kudos for its tech savvy over the past few years. It was named a Top 10 Digital City by the Center for Digital Government for 2011 and 2012. It was lauded for launching multiple custom websites and improving technology for police. It also created online services allowing residents to submit code enforcement service requests and obtain various permits online.