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To Stay in LA

BUSINESS - These days, a company looking to move to a bigger location has suitors. That was true for our company, Equipois, a four-year old venture-funded company with an exoskeleton technology that lets people maneuver objects as if weightless.  The technology can greatly reduce workplace injuries and increase productivity. For several years, we had been approached by cities (and even countries) that said they would be thrilled to be our new home, with nice incentive packages to welcome us. As a management team, especially one tasked with taking good care of outside investors' money, we had to take such offers seriously.

For us though, the decision to stay in Los Angeles was compelling.  Our technology comes from an invention that originated on film sets - the Steadicam, pioneered by inventor Garrett Brown.  Yet we sell to major manufacturers and utilize the supply chain that services the aerospace industry.  

LA is the rare city that sits at the convergence of both entertainment and manufacturing; in a few minutes you can drive from movie studios to huge factories operated by Boeing and Northrop Grumman, as well as scores of top quality machining operations.

The talent pool here is deep and broad.  Though still small, we hire for a wide range of positions ranging from assemblers to engineers to sales to graphic design.

In Southern California, we've been able to find superstars for all of these slots.  It's a function of the diversity of the industries and residents here, the strong universities and pure size of the population.  Because of the entertainment industry, there is also a unique freelance workforce that companies can draw upon, whether for projects or full-time employment.

There is also an infrastructure here that has become more and more focused on attracting and supporting businesses like ours. We collaborate with three local, world-class  universities - UCLA, USC and LMU - on everything from product development to general business strategy.

We were also invited to participate in a consortium of representatives from government, universities, non-profits and the private sector on how to support business growth in the region.  

A recent report found that the LA area has the most "entrepreneurs" per capita of any city in the U.S.; LA supports some 300,000 small businesses employing over 2 million people.  Fortunately, our leaders here are intent on supporting and cultivating that tremendous resource.

That support starts with Los Angeles City Hall.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has launched a number of initiatives to promote business.  They range from procurement reform to make it easier to do business with the City, to information on direct financial incentives to a Small Business Team dedicated to helping companies like ours.

The welcome we received when we moved from LA to LA was astounding. We were honored to have Mayor Villaraigosa participate in our Grand Opening, along with City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.  

The Mayor made us feel like we were a big employer in a small town, instead of the opposite - taking real time to understand what we do and the value we offer, and pledging his administration's tangible support as we grow.  

That sort of attention for a young company in the nation's second-largest city and worldwide entertainment center is unexpected and invaluable...and made it abundantly clear that for us, LA is home.

(Eric Golden is President and CEO of Los Angeles-based Equipois Inc. You can learn more about Equipois at www.equipoisinc.com and the City's support for business at www.losangelesworks.org.  This article was posted first at foxandhoundsdaily.com)
-cw

Tags: Equipois, Los Angeles, City Hall, Mayor Villaraigosa, Southern California, UCLA, USC, LMU, technology, Boeing, Gruman, entertainment, manufacturing, Steadicam


CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 49
Pub: June 21, 2011

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