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Los Angeles County, California

Seal of reading "Celebrating 30 Years - CDBG Still Delivers - Performance Counts!

Business Technology Center

CDBG 30th Anniversary Recognition of Excellence

The Business Technology Center (BTC) is California's largest high-tech business incubator and the only technology incubator in the nation owned and operated by a County agency. Opened in 1998, the BTC is a 40,000 square foot facility that has been visited by delegations from more than 25 countries. The total project costs for the BTC was approximately $5.5 million, of which $3.5 million funded through Community Development Block Grant and more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA).

One of the most unique features of the BTC is its location in a minority community whose residents are 48 percent low- or moderate-income. Most high technology incubators are operated by universities or are located in high-technology settings. The County of Los Angeles Community Development Commission (CDC) made a conscious decision to locate the BTC in a redevelopment project area. The primary risk was that the surrounding corridor would dissuade new technology firms from locating at the BTC. However, placing the BTC in Altadena met three key objectives and the results have been impressive:

  1. Removing slum and blight - The CDC purchased a three-acre site that had been used as an illegal recycling center, a storage yard for heavy equipment, a tobacco billboard and a trash dumping area. It cleared the site and built a new "wired-for-sound" building which would be at home in any high tech corridor in the nation.

  2. Providing an anchor to revitalize a commercial corridor - Since its construction, the CDC has entered into an agreement with a developer for new retail, office and housing for the corridor.

  3. Using technology to jump-start a disadvantaged community - Studies indicate that technology will be the catalyst for economic development in the next decades. Rather than using common place methods for energizing a disadvantaged community such as community centers, training facilities, retail development, the CDC decided to bring a center for high technology business creation right into a disadvantaged community. The calculus was that there would be short-term benefits (elimination of slum and blight); mid-term benefits (100-200 people bringing income into the community for purchases of office supplies, services, lunches, etc.); and, long-term benefits (nexus to high technology to bridge the digital divide).

Today, the BTC serves 39 tenant and affiliate firms with specialties ranging from fuel cells to biometric software to make DNA micro arrays more effective. Over 45 percent of BTC firms have received more than $65 million in equity investment and creating more than 475 jobs. The BTC has been honored by awards from the National Association of Counties, the California Association for Local Economic Development, and the Governor's Office of the State of California.

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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