Los Angeles: A Thriving Business Destination


It’s the holiday season—a time when temperatures drop and many Canadians look toward Los Angeles, planning winter getaways that break up the long cold winter. But while Canadian vacationers come to L.A. seeking sunshine, beaches, and attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios, a growing number of Canadian businesses head to the Southland because they see the wealth of investment, talent, and market opportunities available in the region.

Canadians likely know that Hollywood is the world’s leading entertainment center; L.A. boasts all six major entertainment studios. But L.A. does much more than movies.  It is the third largest city economy in the world after Tokyo and New York.  The economy is highly diversified and the region is a welcoming place to do business. Indeed, the wide range of economic opportunities in L.A. may come as a surprise to some.

While many might associate manufacturing jobs with rustbelt cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, the L.A. metro area is actually the largest center of manufacturing in the U.S., with more manufacturing jobs than any other city. The manufacturing industry in L.A. County employs over 356,000 workers.

L.A. is also a leader in the aerospace industry. Aerospace components are consistently the top export from the region totaling nearly $6 billion in the first 10 months of 2017. The L.A. aerospace industry has a new breed of best-in-class companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX, which are built upon the region’s strong industry foundations. Today, SpaceX produces rockets made for space exploration in the same facility that used to produce fuselages for Boeing airplanes.

”Silicon Beach,” L.A.’s answer to Silicon Valley, has rapidly become a key market for tech innovation, with leading companies like Snap, Hyperloop One, and Riot Games establishing their headquarters here. L.A. is one of North America's top markets for high-tech employment growth, increasing industry jobs by 20% in 2015-16. L.A. County added over 12,000 tech jobs in the past two years, for a total of 72,226.  As Silicon Beach and Hollywood increasingly interface, L.A. has become a natural destination for leading content producers like Netflix, which now has over 800 employees and 500,000 square feet of office space in Hollywood.

L.A.'s High Technology Ecosystem

  • $50 billion tech ecosystem
  • $4 billion in startup funding in 2016
  • 231 companies funded
  • 64 exits worth over $6.5 billion
  • 104 VC firms
  • 32 accelerators
  • 45 incubators
  • This ecosystem supports the over 8,000 start-ups in L.A.

L.A. has also seen the emergence of thriving bioscience and clean technology clusters. The region’s bioscience cluster includes 600 companies and 57,000 employees. L.A.’s cleantech cluster includes more than 34 companies. The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator is the hub for the industry, supporting emerging companies, providing access to prototyping labs to develop their products, and attracting visits from political leaders from across the world, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Canadian Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne.

L.A.'s Bioscience Ecosystem

  • 150 biotech firms in L.A. city
  • 600 in L.A. region
  • 57,000 employees
  • Bioscience Hub supported by L.A. County

L.A.'s Cleantech Ecosystem

  • $12 million in funding
  • 34+ companies
  • Home to the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator

These industries draw upon the region’s top ranked global universities, like UCLA, USC, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which graduate some of the nation's top engineers.

L.A.’s diverse economy and geographic location have made it the leading city in the country for international trade. In 2016, Los Angeles was the number one customs district in the country with $398 billion in two-way trade. With access to the world from the country’s number one and number two ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the region is the gateway between the Pacific Rim and rest of the United States. And the region’s major international airport, LAX, is the nation’s leading origin and destination airport with more than 80 million passengers passing through in 2016.

Just as Canadians value diversity, L.A.’s multicultural communities form the backbone of the city.  Over 220 languages are spoken here and almost any ethnic community can find a place that feels like home, from Little Armenia, to Koreatown, to Little Tokyo.  Los Angeles has the largest populations of Armenian, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Salvadorian people outside of their home country. All this diversity provides the basis for a strong, and multi-skilled workforce that can help companies thrive and contribute to a massive consumer market. Los Angeles County is home to 10 million people and the Southern California region has a population of 22 million—or roughly a third of Canada’s total population.

Many Canadians and Canadian companies are already successfully conducting business in L.A., reaping the many benefits available to businesses in the region.  Toronto-based Brookfield is the largest owner of downtown office space in Los Angeles and has significant investments in the Port of Los Angeles and in the Southern California energy sector. In 2015, Toronto-based RBC bought L.A. largest bank, City National Bank.

So come visit our beaches, experience our sunshine, but please also check out the plethora of business opportunities available in L.A.

Eric Eide is a Strategic Advisor of MAPLE Business Council, a non-profit senior executive council promoting investment, trade and entrepreneurship between Canada and Southern California. Eric is a principal at TradeWorks Global, a international trade and investment consultancy. For more information on MAPLE, please visit www.maplesocal.com.