Last week, the Long Beach City Council authorized the City to enter into an agreement with the California State University, Long Beach Foundation, to provide continuing education workforce development classes in Downtown Long Beach. Mayor Robert Garcia and California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) President Jane Close Conoley, first jointly announced the initiative in 2017. The 10-year, $1,000,000 agreement will set the stage for CSULB to open classrooms in one of the City’s major professional employment centers and within walking distance to LA Metro’s Blue Line service.
The partnership is a major step in fulfilling the City’s Economic Development Blueprint key objective of preparing the workforce and businesses through the alignment of economic development training, education and community partner efforts. The grant will specifically engage CSULB, College of Professional and International Education (CPIE) to deliver a robust offering of classes in project management, cybersecurity, social work, and other innovative sectors that are critical to the growth and competitiveness of employers in the City’s westside and downtown business district.
“Bringing Long Beach State to Downtown has been an initiative that President Conoley and I have been strongly advocating for,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Having the university in our downtown is an amazing opportunity for students to be closer to employers, and for our business community to tap into an energetic, smart and driven future workforce.”
The agreement is poised to provide CSULB with the resources necessary to: establish 16 classrooms with an estimated 25 seats each (400 total seats) closer to a major City cluster of professional employment; deliver CPIE continuing education programs to advance careers of residents and professionals in the west side and downtown; and provide additional space for overflow classes provided at its main campus.
“Ongoing partnership with the City is of central importance to us, and the idea of having a permanent presence in the downtown area is of great interest,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. “For several years, we have been looking at ways that a downtown complex might meet our academic needs and address affordable housing concerns. As the downtown area is more fully developed, we know this is a location where we want to be. It is a place where students and faculty can better collaborate and learn from the region’s businesses, industry and non-profit leaders; where we can provide greater insights and influence on key partnerships like the Long Beach College Promise; and where we can create more opportunities for our students and the people of Long Beach.”
Downtown classrooms will be developed from converted retail spaces adjacent to 4th Street and The Promenade in the pedestrian-oriented shopping and restaurant destination known as “The Streets.” Downtown classes are expected to start in 2020.
“Bridging the gap between strong local talent and local career opportunities is critical to building a thriving economy,” said First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “We look forward to welcoming CSULB students to classrooms in our downtown core where students might find their first, or their next, job opportunity.”
Pacific Gateway, the City’s federally-funded Workforce Development Bureau will lead the implementation of the grant. They identified CPIE as an innovative partner bridging the CSULB campus with the business community and offering access to opportunities to residents. CPIE will spur economic development in the region by connecting and collaborating with businesses and industry, non-profit organizations, public schools and various government agencies. CPIE provides professional education and training for employers in Long Beach that rely on skilled workforce growth.
“Local employers across industries report that skill shortages are resulting in missed business opportunities and are constraining growth – an area of concern across all industries, and particularly the high-wage and strategically important industries that are central to the region’s economic vibrancy,” said Nick Schultz, Pacific Gateway Executive Director. “Pacific Gateway’s purpose is to reverse these trends by aligning around a demand-driven talent development strategy, and this innovative partnership with CSULB is a major step in accomplishing that end.”
Funds for the $1,000,000 grant were made available through proceeds from the City’s property sale of Broadway Block Site B. CSULB will be responsible for additional costs associated with program implementation and staffing, and securing and maintaining the downtown classrooms.