How to Help 150,000 People Every Day


I attended a meeting last week with Austin Beutner, The City of Los Angeles’ first deputy mayor and economic policy chief.

My company Growthink is headquartered just a stones throw from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and the meeting was organized by Laurie Hughes, head of Gateway to LA - the airport business district’s advocacy organization.

The purpose of the meeting was to gather some of the district’s executives, landlords and hotel and parking lot operators together to discuss issues of importance to businesses in the area.

And what an area it is!

LAX - with more than 150,000 people per day traveling through it - is truly an Aerotropolis, a massive economic entity that employs thousands of people and contributes billions of dollars to the local economy.

The issues discussed ranged from the somewhat mundane - like the drivers of occupancy fluctuations at the local hotels through the days of the week - to the soaring, like plans for a new “people mover” monorail that will bring the LAX travel experience up to 21st century standards.

I contributed my view of how modern technology companies - with their mobile work forces and global market opportunities - should naturally be located near major airport hubs like LAX.

And as the discussion oscillated between frustration and inspiration, I was struck by how much need there is for entrepreneurial mindsets when it comes to making change happen on governmental scale.

First of all, patience and fortitude and big time sticktoitiveness are needed. To bring their vision of a new airport to life, Laurie and her team at Gateway to LA have worked diligently for 10 years and counting!

Secondly, governmental scale change is rarely about white boarding new ideas as it is about exploring and building into the “adjacent possible.

For example, one of the landlords complained about the difficulty of attracting tenants to the area because of the Los Angeles City Business Tax, which does not have to be paid in nearby El Segundo.

Mr. Beutner replied that given the city's budget woes, the likelihood of the tax being rescinded or reduced were practically zero, but there were in it carve-outs for Internet and technology businesses that the smart landlord should explore and promote in their marketing.

Finally, it is just plain immature to treat local, state, national, and even international governmental regulation, taxation, and general economic participation as a burden or hindrance that needs to be “dealt with”, so that the “real work” of business can be done.

For the remainder of everyone’s lives reading this, the reality will remain that government - with all of its frustrations and maddening bureaucracy - isn't going anywhere.

The smart entrepreneur doesn't just accept this but creatively plans and acts to profit from and along with it.

Even better, he or she, like Austin Beutner and Laurie Hughes, work long, hard and yes entrepreneurially to bring to life new solutions and possibilities.

Like a new and better airport to be enjoyed by all.

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