Rick Caruso, The Disney Co., Vernon & Santa Clarita Honorees

Anne Sweeney, The Disney Co., Rick Caruso and wife Tina at Annual LAEDC Eddy Awards in Beverly Hills.

Phil Miler, Anne Sweeney, The Disney Co., Rick Caruso and wife Tina at Annual LAEDC Eddy Awards in Beverly Hills.

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) has announced famed real estate developer Rick Caruso as its individual honoree and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) as its corporate honoree for the 13th Annual Eddy Awards® held on Monday, November 17, 2008, at the Beverly Hilton.  Established in 1996, the annual gala is the region’s most prestigious recognition of top business leadership in economic development.

The Walt Disney Company is a globally recognized and beloved brand.  Since its founding in 1923, Disney and its affiliated companies have remained faithful to their commitment to produce unparalleled entertainment experiences based on the rich legacy of quality, creative content and exceptional storytelling.

Across its multitude of media networks, motion picture studios, theatrical productions, and parks and resorts, Disney is the highest ranking Fortune 500 firm headquartered in Los Angeles County, employing more than 10,000 people and contributing more than $3.6 billion to the economy of Southern California.

“Not only does the Disney Company contribute to the economic success of the region by creating thousands of quality jobs for the region, they continually deliver high quality programming and events that enrich the lives of millions of people,” said Bill Allen, LAEDC president and CEO.  “Disney exemplifies the best of corporate citizenship and is one of the leading economic engines that fuel our economy.”

Anne Sweeney, president ABC Television Group, and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, will accept the award on behalf of Disney.

Rick Caruso, president and CEO of Caruso Affiliated, is best known for developing retail centers such as the Grove in Los Angeles, the Commons at Calabasas, and the newly-opened Americana at Brand in Glendale.  His lifestyle centers have become popular tourist destinations that have attracted millions of visitors to Los Angeles County

He has redefined the retail experience and his commitment to developing high-quality lifestyle centers has earned him numerous awards and national recognition.  In addition to adding vibrancy and civic spaces to these local communities, he has created thousands of jobs for the region.

In 2004, Caruso’s company unveiled plans for an investment of one billion dollars in new retail destinations in California, the largest single retail development program in the nation.  His new family of projects is expected to generate $80 million annually in new taxes for state and local governments as well as 11,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs.

“Rick Caruso continues to push the bounds of the retail experience,” said Bill Allen, LAEDC president and CEO. “His lifestyle centers have played a key role in boosting tourism for L.A. County in addition to creating thousands of jobs for Angelenos.  We are proud to honor Rick for his unwavering commitment to L.A. County through his philanthropic contributions, civic engagement, and economic leadership.”

A highly-regarded civic leader and philanthropist, Caruso’s company is also ranked by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the best places to work in L.A. County.

MOST BUSINESS FRIENDLY CITY IN SOCAL

Vernon Mayor Leonis Malburg accepts 2008 LAEDC's "Most Business Friendly City" award for population under 50,000 at the 13th Annual Eddys held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Vernon Mayor Leonis Malburg accepts 2008 LAEDC “Most Business Friendly” award.

Los Angeles The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) announced  last night (Monday) the cities of Santa Clarita and Vernon as the winners of its annual “Most Business-Friendly City in Los Angeles County” competition at its 13th Annual Eddy Awards on November 17, 2008.  The Eddy Awards are attended by more than 700 leaders from the business, government, and education communities.

The City of Santa Clarita emerged as the most business-friendly city in LA County for the cities with more than 50,000 residents.  Santa Clarita does not assess a utility user tax, allowing businesses to save up to five percent or more on their electric, telephone, water, and gas bills, and it has recently been designated as a State of California Enterprise Zone.  Santa Clarita offers its businesses and residents a highly educated workforce, available land for development, site selection assistance, and expedited plan reviews and permit processing.
It is also a thriving center for industry clusters such as aerospace manufacturing, bio-medical, entertainment, and technology. CNN/Money Magazine calls this city one of the Best Places to Live in California.

They also boast the distinction of having the most “Outstanding New Economic Developer of the Year” on their staff, according to the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and have been recognized numerous times for their award-winning marketing materials. Santa Clarita was also named a finalist for the LAEDC’s Most Business Friendly City award in 2006 and 2007.  Finalists for this category this year included the cities of Cerritos, Glendale, Long Beach, and Pasadena.

The City of Santa Clarita received "Most Business Friendly City" award for over 50,000 population at LAEDC Eddy awards.

The City of Santa Clarita received


The City of
Vernon was selected as the winner for the category of 50,000 and fewer residents. Vernon provides its own water and natural gas service, fiber optic system, and its own electric utility company with rates that are consistently ten to 40 percent lower than those outside the City. Vernon does not have a utility user tax and its redevelopment agency has spent nearly $40 million on infrastructure improvements and land for economic development.

The City offers a “one stop” service counter where questions regarding zoning requirements, building codes and/or public works can be answered. Vernon also boasts the distinction of being named Most Competitive among 12 other industrial cities (six in Southern California and six in other states), according to the Kosmont Companies business costs analysis report. Vernon is home to several major brand names including Farmer John, Seven for All Mankind, BCBG, and Karen Kane. This small city of only 100 residents and more than 50,000 employees is home to companies who manufacture everything from hot dogs to haute couture. Finalists for this category also included Culver City, Santa Fe Springs, La Mirada, and Monrovia.

“We’re delighted to present our third annual award to these very deserving cities,” said Bill Allen, LAEDC president and CEO. “The cities of Santa Clarita and Vernon best represent what can be achieved when our city governments work side by side with the business community to create business-friendly environments where quality jobs can grow.

Mayor Leonis Malburg walks to stage to accept "Most Business Friendly" award at LAEDC Annual Eddys at the Beverly Hilton. Photo by George Mc Quade
Mayor Leonis Malburg walks to stage to accept

Their success can be attributed to the proactive attitude of their Mayors, council members, and city staff. We are encouraged that so many LA County cities are beingproactive in their efforts to retain and attract quality jobs and businesses in their communities especially during these difficult economic times. The ability and commitment of our local governments to attract and retain good jobs will be absolutely essential if our region is to sustain its economic vitality and quality of life in the years to come.”

The winners were selected based on the following criteria:

· Demonstrated commitment to economic development as a priority

· Excellence in programs and services designed to facilitate business entry, expansion, and retention

· Economic development activity over the past three years

· Competitive business tax rates and fee structures

· Availability of economic incentives

· Effective communication with and about business clients

In support of the LAEDC’s mission to retain and attract quality jobs to Los Angeles County, the LAEDC announced this award category in 2006 to showcase the cities within the County that are proactively promoting business-friendly programs and services. Last year, the City of Lancaster was name Most Business-Friendly and the City of El Segundo was the inaugural winner for the “Most Business-Friendly City” award in 2006.

About the Eddy

The Eddy Awards® were introduced by the LAEDC in 1996 to celebrate individuals and organizations that demonstrate exceptional contributions to positive economic development in the region. For more information about the Eddy Awards®, including sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.laedc.org/eddy. For past Eddy honorees please visit: http://www.laedc.org/eddy/about.html.

About LAEDC (www.LAEDC.org)

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), the region’s premier business leadership organization, is a private, non-profit organization established in 1981. Its mission is to attract, retain, and grow businesses and jobs for the regions of Los Angeles County. Since 1996, the LAEDC has helped retain or create more than 147,700 jobs, providing $7.3 billion dollars in annual economic impact and more than $124 million dollars in annual tax revenue to support local government and schools.

[Editors: For media interviews please contact George McQuade, MAYO Communications, (818) 340-5300 or PR@MayoCommunications.com.

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