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Economic agency to track ‘ocean economy’ in county

MARINA DEL REY — County Supervisor Janice Hahn joined Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation CEO Bill Allen, officials from AltaSea, and entrepreneurs from new ocean tech companies to announce that the “blue” or “ocean economy” would become an official economic sector tracked in Los Angeles County.

According to a report compiled by the economic development corporation and AltaSea at the Port of LA, 117,000 workers are directly employed in the region’s ocean economy, with an additional 82,500 jobs sustained by the industry. 

The report: “The Ocean Economy in Los Angeles County,” was sponsored by Hahn’s office and released by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and prepared in collaboration with AltaSea. 

Based on the industry’s significant regional economic contribution, the LAEDC took the rare step, upon the report’s release, to add the “ocean economy” as a Southern California-based industry cluster that it will formally monitor, benchmark and track going forward; much like the organization does for the region’s more well-known industries such as aerospace and digital media entertainment.

The “ocean economy” is a large sector in the county in terms of jobs, according to the report. In fact, if the “ocean economy” had been included in the most recent jobs report, it would have ranked ninth in jobs behind manufacturing and ahead of information technology.

Supervisor Hahn made thes announcement at the Burton Chase Park Boathouse in Marina del Rey. There, she got to operate an underwater drone created by Blue Robotics — a startup based at AltaSea.

The report also found that:

• California’s Ocean Economy supports 1.035 million jobs (direct, indirect and induced), or roughly 7% of the state’s total workforce, and over $53 billion in total labor income. 

• The county’s Ocean Economy supports 200,400 total jobs (direct, indirect and induced), produced over $34 billion in regional output, added $20 billion to the gross county product, yielded over $12 billion in labor income, and generated $1.7 billion in local taxes in 2018.

• The marine transportation and tourism sectors, which employ 52,070 and 57,270 workers, respectively, in the county, are the industry’s largest local employment contributors. 

The county’s ocean economy is forecast to grow significantly, directly employing 126,000 workers by 2023 and generating $80.1 billion in regional output, $49.8 billion in additional gross county product and $69.2 billion in personal income over the five-year period between 2019 and 2023.

Globally, the ocean economy is projected to double to $3 trillion over the next decade.

The report also highlights the growing economic, environmental and equity importance of the region’s emerging marine-based biotechnology, conservation, renewable and high-tech sectors, which the economic development corporation projects will be significant drivers of future job, venture capital and wage growth over the five-year study period. 

By leveraging the region’s existing applied research concentrations and pronounced productive advantages over other economic regions and nations, the report concludes that Los Angeles County is well-positioned to become a world leader in the development of marine-based solutions to address global climate change, health and water conservation challenges. 

“The newly designated ocean economy is a strong and growing sector of our economy in L.A. County,” Hahn said. “Over the next decade we’re going to see more jobs at our ports, in aquaculture, in ocean exploration, and in ocean technology we haven’t even thought of yet.”

The report also makes some policy and program recommendations for further building on the region’s organic strengths in this industry. Key suggestions include: investing in industry-driven workforce training programs that can respond in real-time to the fast-changing labor market needs of this industry; advocate for economic and workforce development incentives and programs that support emerging ocean industries; ease regulatory barriers for sustainable aquaculture; promote marine-based renewable energy solutions; and implement local waterfront revitalization and preservation programs that achieve the co-equal goals of to combat sea level rise and to promote sustainable economic development.

“This report is not just data,” Hahn added. “It is a road map with recommendations the county can pursue with the LAEDC, AltaSea and emerging blue economy leaders — driving science-based understanding of the ocean, incubating and sustaining ocean-related businesses, and pioneering new ocean-related education programs for communities and entrepreneurs alike. This is just the beginning.”

Wave Staff Report