Leaders discuss the future of Los Angeles

Leaders in politics, communication and development from the United States and abroad participated in the Los Angeles Global Cities Initiative Conference to discuss the future of international cities like Los Angeles on Wednesday at the Davidson Conference Center.

During the conference, USC President C. L. Max Nikias emphasized Los Angeles’ current position as an important international center.

Global · Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke about the future of Los Angeles and its role as a global city at a conference on Wednesday. - Matthew Wunderlich | Daily Trojan

“In the 1800s, Los Angeles was nothing but an outpost of the American West,” Nikias said in his opening remarks. “It was valued for its resources rather than cultural bravado. But now, this region is America’s new gateway to the world — physically, culturally and intellectually.”

Nikias said he expects USC and other institutions will be vital for the future prosperity in the region.

“Southern California promises the next gold rush — intellectually and culturally — because of the interplay between our prestigious institutions.”

At the event, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said universities like USC are integral for fueling the economic growth of cities.

“Our business schools can provide necessary market research, export strategies and business plans with local businesses,” he said.

Dick Drobnick, director of USC’s Center for International Business Education and Research, said USC will play a role in contributions to technological and entrepreneurial capital because companies benefit from the international cultural perspective of students and graduates.

“This is especially advantageous for international students’ collaboration with local companies,” Drobnick said.

At the conference, Nikias cited statistical evidence for USC’s recent impact on technology.

“There are currently 44 active business startups based on USC intellectual property which have brought in over $800 million of venture capital in the last decade,” he said.

Alden Mitchell, a sophomore majoring in economics and electrical engineering, said USC’s potential to spur growth stems from students’ enthusiasm. Mitchell is president of USC’s National Organization for Business and Engineering.

“USC has current and motivated students,” Mitchell said. “[NOBE] bridges the gap between Viterbi, Marshall and other disciplines to foster a culture and community of entrepreneurship at USC.”

Paralleling USC’s role in innovation and global awareness with the globalization of Los Angeles’ economy, Nikias closed with remarks about the future of USC and Los Angeles.

“My university is at the forefront of experimentation of ideas, a dynamic blend of arts and humanities. Our students are skilled world students in training,” he said. “We can offer renewal in the face of uncertainty: untold new opportunities for ourselves, our communities and our posterity.”