To push Long Beach’s notability, Mayor Robert Garcia said that he intends to add the city to the list of growing tech hubs in California, according to an L.A. Times article.
To change Long Beach into a “startup” city would mean changing its entire composition, Dr. Burkhard Englert, the chair of computer engineering and computer science at California State University, Long Beach, said.
“If we can attract businesses to come [to Long Beach], for example, then people who live here, their children can go through education here, they can find jobs here,” Englert said. “The whole economic outlook will be more focused on technology and that will attract people with different skills.”
For now, Long Beach is known for its ocean-based ventures. It’s home to the world’s second-busiest seaport, as well as the five-acre Aquarium of the Pacific and the iconic Queen Mary docked on the harbor
Garcia said in the L.A. Times that he hopes to turn the city from its blue-collar roots into “The Silicon Valley of the south” so that it would compete with its more well-known, densely-populated neighbors in Los Angeles.
Senior graphic design major, Antonio Rodriguez, said he saw the differences between his hometown of Santa Monica and Long Beach almost immediately.
“From the ground up, [Santa Monica is] kind of built to bring people to work,” Rodriguez said. “Everything they do – from the way they handle housing, the way they handle the Promenade. [Long Beach] has to build the industry buildings [Santa Monica has] for startups. I think that’s why there’s so many people there.
Like-minded tech developers usually group together in the same cities to keep the competition and innovation alive. This means the famed Silicon Valley up north, or Santa Monica and Playa Vista in the south. Even Irvine and East Anaheim in Orange Country have dipped into the tech world, according to a study done by CityLab.
“It’s an uphill battle, I think [for startups in Long Beach],” Rodriguez said. “If you’re in tech, everything has to be really nice. Long Beach is just grimy. Tech startups and entertainment, it’s just so high end. Long Beach has to build the prestige if they want to do it.”
According to a 2013 study for Urban Land by professor Richard Florida, Los Angeles raked in $1.7 billion in venture capital for the state of California in 2012. A few seats ahead sits the San Jose metro area – and by extension, the Silicon Valley – at slightly less than $4 billion.
“If [turning Long Beach into a tech hub is] what [Garcia] wants to do, that’s really a worthwhile goal to at least attempt it,” Englert said. “We have a lot of resources here … we have a lot of people who live here and there’s a lot of possibilities for tech companies to find people that work for them and be very successful. There’s no reason that it can only happen in Silicon Valley.”