The Pacific Council recently hosted a discussion about how LA and its manufacturers quickly adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Melkon Khosrovian, co-founder and spirits maker at Greenbar Distillery, Christine Peterson, director of international trade & investment at the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Alexander Zar, CEO of La La Land Production and Design, and moderated by Maryam Zar, founder of Womenfound.
Here are key takeaways from the discussion:
- Peterson pointed out that 13 percent of LA manufacturing jobs are linked to foreign enterprises. “This [COVID-19 pandemic] crisis revealed the strength LA manufacturing already had,” she said.
- Zar said this is actually a “tremendous opportunity for material sourcing to return to the United States rather than relying on Asia. The only lack here is the lack of material as we are completely dependent on China, Bangladesh, and Turkey for polypropylene, even though this can be produced domestically. Federal and local government should create a fund for small to medium sized companies to get equipment and facilities set up to create the raw materials needed for these products. PPE is an issue of national security. It’s no longer a commodity; it should be kept in-house in the United States.”
- “This is a national security issue,” Khosrovian said. “We need to onshore/onboard so many processes to the United States so we aren’t caught off-guard again. This isn’t the last time we will face something like this—it may not be a pandemic, but we need to be prepared with these basic supply chain ingredients and items.”
- Peterson added if not fully on-shore, at least “near-shore, such as more regional trade with Canada and Mexico.”
- Peterson argued that LA and Southern California have a comparative advantage because of the diversity of economy, wealth of talent, and international connections. “This is an opportunity to think about how we can reenergize export efforts to support our recovery.”
- “We’re on a cusp of a global revolution for manufacturing—localization, customization, and automation,” Zar said. “How are we going to educate our labor force to use more advanced equipment? We need to teach people one step at a time.”
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.