L.A. hires its first entrepreneurs

Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, stands with new Entrepreneurs in Residence Krisztina “Z” Holly, left, and Amir Tehrani. COURTESY OF KRISZTINA HOLLY

Los Angeles now has two entrepreneurs working on its behalf.

Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ernst & Young LLP announced the launch of L.A.’s Entrepreneur in Residence program. The entrepreneurs will have offices in City Hall and serve one-year terms, with the aim to develop strategies and policies to boost job creation and the overall economy.

“This program is distinct because of the caliber and level of experience of the entrepreneurs in residence,” said Patrick Niemann, managing partner at Ernst & Young’s Greater L.A. practice, which is sponsoring the compensation and program budget over the next four years.

The two inaugural entrepreneurs have mapped out a few focus areas already.

Krisztina Holly, who often goes by the initial “Z,” is council chair for the World Economic Forum and adviser to the Obama administration in innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I have a key interest in manufacturing,” said Holly, the creator of the first TEDx event (at USC).

Holly, who also was the founding executive director of USC’s innovation center, said the goal by the end of the year is to have policy recommendations and partnership ideas to attract more businesses.

“There are so many trends making it more feasible for manufacturing to come back to the U.S.,” she said, such as automation and robotics, as well as the maker movement. “L.A. should be playing a huge role in this renaissance.”

Amir Tehrani, founder and president of product design and manufacturing company Allied Group, is looking into the creation of an entrepreneurs council and longer-term education initiatives to bring a more innovative perspective to the city’s economic-development strategies.

“We’ve noticed in looking at best practices in New York City and San Francisco and Israel that the most effective entrepreneurial cities and ecosystems have tangible programs to retain investment capital and entrepreneurs,” Tehrani said.

“There is a vibrant accelerator and incubator movement in L.A., and a slew of nonprofits and internationally reputed universities, and all these actors can play major roles in making L.A. the hub of the creative economy.”

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