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L.A. WATCH : Staying Power

July 17, 1993

Mayor Richard Riordan, showing that Los Angeles is "business-friendly," has persuaded at least one major company to stay here. Not bad, Mr. Mayor. This is especially good news for the city's downtown garment district.

The decision by California Fashion Industries, maker of the Carole Little brand of women's clothing, will mean new investment and jobs. The company suffered $11 million in damage during last year's riots and was thinking of moving its operations, at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Main Street, to Nevada.

Now the company, where more than 800 people work, will stay and invest $10 million to purchase, renovate and expand nearby in the old May Co. distribution center. The hope is to increase the work force to at least 1,200.

The company decided to remain after a satisfying meeting with Riordan, who was asked to help expedite the city's fiendishly slow and complex building permit process. In a separate meeting, other apparel manufacturers and suppliers asked the mayor to appoint a special liaison to the apparel industry. That's a good idea considering that the L.A. garment industry, though second in stature to New York's 7th Avenue, actually employs more people.

Designer lines such as Carole Little personify the California-casual look. It's important to keep them in the state. Another idea Riordan ought to explore is Ketchum Communications' offer to design--for free--a nationwide ad campaign to improve the city's tarnished image. Maybe that will help more people to love--or at least invest in--L.A.

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