Mayor Villaraigosa hopes green business will help LA's economy

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In his state of the city address, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa acknowledged a $530 million deficit and an idling economy. KPCC's Molly Peterson says the mayor sees hope in green business.

Molly Peterson: The mayor described a "simmering" jobless rate – he called it the "terrible toll" of the economy – but he said it won't keep the city down.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: We can, and will, beat this recession.

Peterson: Opportunity, he said, begins at places like Balqon Corporation, the electric truck manufacturer where he spoke. Company CEO Balwinder Samra said he was struggling when the Port of L.A. gave him half a million dollars to move his business to Harbor City.

Balwinder Samra: I stand before you not just as a small business owner who made it. Not just as an engineer who got lucky, and not just as a successful clean tech entrepreneur. I stand here as a grateful citizen of the city, a proud beneficiary of the belief that anything is possible.

Peterson: Now, the port is buying 25 of his all-electric low emission trucks and gets royalties for other trucks it sells. Villaraigosa said he wants Los Angeles to become a leader in clean technology.

Villaraigosa: A few miles up the 110, we are building a literal "Clean Tech Corridor." A business corridor bringing together researchers, designers, and manufacturers from around the world dedicated to sustainable solutions and to creating green collar jobs.

Peterson: He said that corridor could create up to 1,000 jobs. Like other plans the mayor announced, the clean tech program depends heavily on federal economic stimulus money that Los Angeles doesn't yet have.