The summer engagement series culminated with a workshop on sustainable economic development, focusing on what potential riverfront projects the community would want to see executed, and what available funding mechanisms could be explored for implementing such projects.
Hosted by NELA RC team member Tierra West Advisors - the collaborative's economic development partner - the workshop took place at Atwater Crossing's eclectic arts and innovation complex, a unique space where many local creative businesses call home in Atwater Village.
The workshop kicked off with the prompt, "What River Projects Would You Fund?", as the attendees participated in an introductory financial literacy activity. Each attendee received a budget of "public" and "private" funds (represented by large Monopoly-money dollar bills) to spend on a variety of hypothetical river revitalization projects, ranging from "greenway improvements" and "expanded recreational areas" to "bicycle/pedestrian bridges" and "small business support programs". Attendees were also able to write-in their own projects, and also given the option to not spend their money at all. The activity set the mindset for the final part of the workshop: a panel discussion that explored the possible funding mechanisms for implementing hypothetical riverfront projects.
Moderated by Tierra West Advisors Principal John Yonai, the panel consisted of speakers from several diverse perspectives, including investment banking/bonding (John Kim, EJ De La Rosa & Associates), philanthropic (Dan Tellalian, Emerging Markets Inc.), and public agency economic development (Gerardo Ruvalcaba, City of LA Economic and Workforce Development Department). Each speaker shared their own perspective on how various funding sources could benefit riverfront communities, and how they foresaw sustainable economic development being initiated along Northeast LA neighborhoods. Residents and stakeholders were also able to contribute to a roundtable conversation on how sustainable economic development could be enacted on the ground level in their communities.