A: After the earthquake, we created the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley. It has raised $4 million in private money and is instituting 16 initiatives to improve business retention and schools, etc. Mayor [Richard] Riordan liked that, and about a year ago he asked whether we would do the same in Hollywood. We hooked up the entertainment and tourism industries and got them to come up with 12 projects to improve Hollywood. For example, where the post-production places are, between Highland Avenue and Vine Street and along Santa Monica Boulevard, they've banded together, raised money and set up security patrols and business incubators. There is a major tourism effort, including Hooray From Hollywood and a visitor center; a keeping-the-streets-safe program; and an effort to recruit new companies and persuade existing ones to expand by helping with parking and other headaches. There is also Smart Hollywood, a program to install fiber optics throughout Hollywood so that independent companies can "plug in."
Q: What has the ongoing economic recovery in the Southland meant to your clients?
A: Business is up pretty much across the board. Now they're hiring and expanding, acquiring other companies, seeking financing, buying equipment. They are using our financing services and want to make sure that they plan things correctly, so they use our planning services a lot. We've seen people thinking more aggressively. Before we were seeing more activity, but it was people who feared they were going out of business. Now is the time to start a business and live your dream.