Moving out of L.A.‘s shadow, San Gabriel Valley allies look to solve local issues
(photo credit: Zeetz Jones)
In Los Angeles County, there's one certainty. The city of Los Angeles casts a giant shadow over the rest of the County.
And when we say the rest of the county, there are 87 cities not named Los Angeles. Half of those cities are in the San Gabriel Valley, which runs north and east of the city of L.A.
An organization in that area has been formed to tackle two big issues that loom in every community in California---economic development and educational excellence.
The San Gabriel Valley Civic Alliance is made up of Board members who reflect every corner of life in the Valley. Business, labor, and educational leaders have come together as a diverse non-partisan group that is committed to economic prosperity, educational achievement and a collaborative approach to improving civic life.
"We may come at addressing these issues from different places, but we are united in our belief that better schools and more middle-class jobs are critical needs for our area," said Ed Rendon, chair of the Board of Directors. Rendon also serves as director of Public Affairs for Joint Council 42 of the Teamsters.
Already the Alliance is building a network through professional seminars and awards ceremonies to bring expertise and visibility to the considerable good work already been in the area. California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson and CalTrans Director Malcolm Dougherty have already spoken before the group and a luncheon to honor innovation in San Gabriel Valley school districts is set for September 27.
The Alliance thinks it's ready to start spreading its wings.
"Our diversity has allowed us to find the common ground necessary for agreement," said Rendon. "The result is that we think creatively about how to create more public-private partnership solutions to challenges that face our schools and our businesses."
Rendon's group--which has been running without much foundation support--has built what he calls "considerable social capital" which he believes can be converted into financial support that can help the organization increase its influence.
"We see the issues of water infrastructure, public-private partnerships and financial services for the cities of the San Gabriel Valley as areas we will address," said Rendon. "As we have success in those areas it will help create more jobs, improve our schools and tap the vast potential of our area."
And as far as shadows go, the San Gabriel Valley Civic Alliance may soon start casting a large one of its own.
Rendon also finds time to work with the California Economic Summit, which is a bottom-up, regional approach to economic development in the state. The goal of the Summit--which will be held in Los Angeles on November 7-8--is to create more middle-class jobs and to improve the state's ability to compete in a global economy.