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L.A.'s new economic chief pledges to work to create jobs

January 11, 2010 |  2:15 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today named a successful Wall Street entrepreneur to help spur the city’s faltering economy as City Hall grapples with a crisis of high unemployment, escalating home foreclosures and a huge budget shortfall.

Appointed to the new post of deputy mayor and chief executive for economic and business policy was Austin Beutner, founder of the boutique private equity firm Evercore Partners and former partner at the Blackstone Group, the New York-based investment giant.

Beutner is a Los Angeles resident who will have a broad portfolio “to revamp and retool the city’s approach to economic development, business attraction and retention and job creation,” Villaraigosa said in a statement.

At a City Hall news conference, the mayor introduced Beutner and stressed his role in attracting business and jobs to the city. The new deputy mayor will have “unprecedented oversight” of city resources, including a direct line of authority over the Department of Water and Power, the Port of Los Angeles and economic and business policies at Los Angeles World Airports, including LAX.

“Job creation must be our No. 1 priority, and we’ve selected an Angeleno with a stellar private-sector career and high-level government experience to take this on,” Villaraigosa said. “Austin has a real vision for economic development and job creation in Los Angeles, and, more importantly, he has the know-how and wherewithal to make this vision a reality.”

Beutner pledged to turn around the “culture” at City Hall and lead by example. Whether his appointment will result in major bureaucratic shuffling within the city ranks was unclear. The mayor’s current management structure remains unchanged, officials said.

“It is imperative that we improve the business climate and develop and execute a strategy for economic development and job creation to make the city of Los Angeles a business center for the 21st century,” said Beutner, who will be paid $1 a year for his work.

Asked why he would take on such a daunting task, Beutner replied: “We live in the city. My kids live in the city. And there’s a need.”

-- Patrick McDonnell at City Hall