Meet the New Economic Development Commissioners

Today, I’m announcing a great step forward for economic development in Long Beach. I have selected 11 commissioners to serve on the Economic Development Commission, which had been inactive for several years. The commission will be charged with generating ideas and advising the Council in support of economic growth and prosperity for Long Beach.

To support the economy and businesses of Long Beach, I will be asking the commission to first take on the city's permitting and business licensing process.  An independent review of the permitting, licensing and planning process that businesses go through when opening or expanding will be presented to the City Council for review, and will help to enhance and improve the services the city provides.

While I am proud of recent improvements to our permitting and licensing process, I know we can do better. An independent review by this all-star team of business and community leaders will ensure that we make the process of opening a new business seamless and quick.

In addition to reviewing the permitting and license process, the commission will also work towards presenting ideas and recommendations to spur economic growth in Long Beach.

We need a 21st century approach to Economic Development that drives innovation and supports business growth in trade, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and the creative sector. The economy is changing rapidly and we have to be in the best position to attract quality, middle-class jobs. That’s why I’ve made reviving this commission a priority, and also why I revived the city's Economic Development Department and worked to bring on a Bloomberg Innovation Team to assist with economic development efforts.

The 11 appointees, who will be up for confirmation from the City Council on February 17, are:


Kristi Allen  

Ms. Allen is Vice President of Hotel Operations at Ensemble Hotel Partners in Long Beach, Calif., overseeing two hotel properties including the Hotel Maya, a DoubleTree by Hilton in Long Beach where she is also acting General Manager.  Allen is currently a director and chair-elect of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is a former board member and served as chair of the Downtown Long Beach Associates and also served on the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Board.


Becky Blair  

Ms. Blair has been a commercial real estate broker in Long Beach for more than 30 years, representing hundreds of buyers and sellers in sales and leases. She is active in local and state commercial real estate groups. Blair has served on the Board of Directors for Los Angeles County Workforce Investment, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Long Beach Associates, and the Long Beach Symphony, and as a City Planning Commissioner for 6 years, including as Chair.


Blair Cohn  

Mr. Cohn is the Executive Director of the Bixby Knolls Business Association, which has helped to revitalize business corridors and neighborhoods.  Cohn also chairs the Council of Business Associations (COBA), and is the Event Director for the annual Tour of Long Beach that benefits Miller Children’s Hospital. He serves on the Advisory Board for the ArtXchange, and will be the Cycling Competition Manager for the Special Olympics World Games that will be in Long Beach July 2015.


Frank Colonna 

Mr. Colonna was the 3rd district Councilmember for Long Beach for 8 years, including 2 years as Vice Mayor. As Councilmember he was Chair of the Federal Legislation Committee and served on the Alameda Corridor Board, where he was also chair for 3 terms. He is past president of the Belmont Shore Business Association and a gubernatorial appointee to the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. He was President of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments from 1996-1998. Colonna is a long time real estate broker and former National Guard officer.


Randal Hernandez  

Mr. Hernandez serves as Managing Director of Government Relations for Union Bank, where he is responsible for building relationships with civic and business leaders.  Hernandez served as Chief-of-Staff to former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill in her first term in office (1994-1999). On behalf of the mayor, Hernandez focused on economic development, international trade, city budget and intergovernmental relations activities.  Hernandez served on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and served on the California Green Jobs Council.  He is a former member of the Long Beach Planning Commission.


Ralph Holguin 

Mr. Holguin is the Chief Executive Officer of RMD Group, Inc., a North Long Beach small business with more than 150 employees, specializing in Experiential Marketing Campaigns, Data Capture and Analysis, Display Design and Fabrication, Social Media and Web Integration, Event and Promotional Staffing, and Large Format Printing Sublimation. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Westerly School in Long Beach.


Walter Larkins  

Mr. Larkins has founded a number of companies, including Endosurgical Development Corp., which developed devices and strategies for minimally invasive heart surgery, and CDR Financial Services, LLC.  He is currently President of CDR Benefits, LLC, offering life and health insurance for businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies.  He serves as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board, chairing the Business Services Committee, and participates on a number of non-profit boards and organizations including Long Beach Rotary, California Council of Equality and Justice, Long Beach Community Foundation, LA Job Corps and the E=O2™ Foundation.


Michelle Molina  

Ms. Molina is managing partner of Millworks, which creates socially-responsible investment, development and property management, and is located in downtown Long Beach.  She serves on the Downtown Long Beach Associates, a non-profit organization operating on behalf of the tenants and commercial and residential property owners of the Business Improvement District, as the Chair-Elect. Molina is a founding member of the Historic Old Pine Association, and organizes and sponsors many North Pine charitable and arts projects.  In 2014, she helped create The Friends of Lincoln Park, a support and advocacy group for Downtown Long Beach’s largest public park.


Robert (Bobby) Olvera, Jr.  

Mr. Olvera is the current President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 and represents more than 20,000 part-time and full-time longshore workers who discharge cargo at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  In his 25-year history with the ILWU, he has served on the Executive Board and as a Caucus Delegate on the local level. His career as an officer included terms as a Chief Dispatcher, Business Agent, and four years as Vice-President, ultimately leading to his election as President in 2013. Bobby serves on the Board of Directors for the Miguel Contreras Advocacy Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting social and labor justice, and on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Labor Community Services.


Cyrus Parker-Jeannette 

Ms. Parker-Jeannette is Dean of the College of the Arts at California State University, Long Beach. In that capacity, she oversees the largest arts program on the West Coast. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Arts Council of Long Beach, and Wooden Floor, an arts and social services non-profit for youth. She was the recipient of the 2006 New Leaders in Arts award from the Los Angeles Music Center.


Paul Romero 

Mr. Romero is the Senior National Sales Director with the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau (LBCVB), which he joined in 2005. Romero is responsible for bringing conventions, meetings and special events to the City of Long Beach. His geographic sales territory is the association rich market of Washington, D.C., where many national organizations are based.  Prior to joining the LBCVB, Paul was with Hilton Hotels, bringing with him nine years of hotel sales experience working at properties in Anaheim and Long Beach.


These appointees bring a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds and skillsets, creating a diverse slate of commissioners representing the business community, the arts, hospitality and tourism, education, real estate, the labor workforce, and small businesses. I want to thank all of them for their willingness to serve and offer my congratulations.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.