Los Angeles County Launches New Department of Economic Opportunity

New department to advance workforce equity and mobility, also will drive inclusive and sustainable growth for local businesses

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), formerly the economic and workforce development branch of the now-dissolved LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), becomes an official County department. DEO unites services previously performed by four different agencies within the County, including workforce development, strategic economic development and advocacy, and small business assistance and growth.

The new website for the Department of Economic Opportunity can be accessed via opportunity.lacounty.gov. Social media accounts for DEO may be found at @EconOppLA.

In addition, the LA County Board of Supervisors has appointed Kelly LoBianco as the new Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. Ms. LoBianco has over 15 years of public sector experience at the federal, state, and local levels. Formerly WDACS’ Executive Director for economic and workforce development, Ms. LoBianco played a central role in the County’s equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to joining LA County, she served as the Chief Program Officer for the HOPE Program and Sustainable South Bronx in New York City. She previously held executive roles with the New York City Department of Small Business Services, including Assistant Commissioner and Executive Director of Training and Sector Initiatives for the Workforce Development Division. For a full bio and picture of Kelly LoBianco, please email press@opportunity.lacounty.gov.

“The new Department of Economic Opportunity will enable comprehensive and strategic alignment of the County’s economic development and workforce services. It will be charged with developing strategies that support our most important industry sectors and help prepare our regional workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “As the region’s largest public sector employer, the County can and does have a big impact on our local economy. To that end, we stand ready for the opportunity to deliver for our most vulnerable.”

“The new Department of Economic Opportunity will breakthrough longstanding siloes in the County and enable a coherent strategy to advance economic equity and justice,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell. “I am excited to see the impact the department will have on driving inclusive economic growth and building pathways to economic prosperity – through job programs, small business development, and other strategies – for communities historically excluded from opportunity.”

“Our new Department of Economic Opportunity was established to support two foundational components of a healthy economy,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “It will connect workers to good jobs that help them to thrive and to maintain independence and dignity. It will also provide an important engine for regional economic growth by supporting small businesses and high road employers.”

“After years of this pandemic, we have a chance to rebuild our local economy in a way that respects our workers, brings opportunity to communities, and works for everyone,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This new department is at the center of that effort with the mission of ensuring LA County is better positioned to give our residents the economic opportunities they need to succeed.”

“I’m glad the new Department of Opportunity is up and running, and stands ready to bolster our County’s economy,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We’re still rebounding from the toll the COVID-19 pandemic had on our economy, and small business owners in particular need support. I’m committed to making sure we have a thriving economy in L.A. County, and that we are doing everything in our power to nurture that type of an environment.”

“I am honored to serve as the first Director of the LA County Department of Economic Opportunity,” said Kelly LoBianco, Director of the new LA County Department of Economic Opportunity. “Thanks to the vision of our Board of Supervisors and the commitment of our County team and partners, we are proud to have created a new, centralized department that will empower all of our workers, small businesses and high-road employers, and communities. As we continue to recover and look to the future, our charge is to advance workforce equity and mobility and drive inclusive and sustainable growth here in LA County.”

With 178 budgeted positions, DEO oversees a broad portfolio of economic and workforce development programs and initiatives to increase economic self-sufficiency and mobility for local workers, particularly individuals from historically marginalized communities and populations, while ensuring a thriving and inclusive local business community and economy. DEO houses two LA County Commissions, the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board, and the Small Business Commission, which leverage local leadership and expertise to develop and guide County programs and policies. Significant and ongoing DEO programs and services for immediate public access include:

  • America’s Job Centers of California (AJCC): DEO operates 19 AJCCs which offer job preparation, job training, paid work experiences, supportive services and job connections for workers and recruitment and training, layoff aversion, hiring incentives and high road training partnerships for businesses. To access AJCC services, visit ajcc.lacounty.gov or call (888) 226-6300. 
  • Office of Small Business (OSB): DEO runs the Office of Small Business, housed in the East LA Entrepreneur Center, to assist businesses in starting, growing, and thriving in LA County. We offer resources and services that include 1:1 counseling, workshops, referrals for legal assistance and financing; certifications and preference programs for County contracting; and technical assistance in competing for other public contracting opportunities. Call (844)432-4900 to schedule an appointment for OSB services; email [email protected]lacounty.gov for general business assistance or ptac@opportunity.lacounty.gov for help with contracting opportunities; or visit OSB at the East LA Entrepreneur Center located at 4716 E Cesar E Chavez Los Angeles, CA 90022, Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm.
  • RENOVATE Façade Improvement Program: RENOVATE supports efforts to revitalize commercial corridors by partnering with local small businesses in County unincorporated areas to enhance the appearance of commercial facades and street-facing buildings. To access services, email cdowdell@opportunity.lacounty.gov or call (213)-705-7870.

The newly established department will further elevate the importance of unlocking our regional economic potential and ensuring economic sufficiency, mobility, and sustainability for all residents of LA County. By connecting workers to quality jobs, supporting small businesses and high road employers so that they may start, grow, and thrive, DEO will achieve its mission of building vibrant, equitable communities.

As part of its official kickoff today, DEO announced the launch of [email protected] Elevate:

  • [email protected] Elevate: Officially accepting applications starting today for a September start date, this program will provide 500 opportunity youth (foster care involvement, justice involvement, LGBTQ+ and youth experiencing homelessness) with mentorship, trauma-informed personal enrichment training, and 400 hours of paid work experience with employers in high growth sectors that are willing to commit to post-program employment. Interested youth can apply here and employers who would like to host youth can apply here.

[email protected] Elevate is part of DEO’s nearly $140 million in planned equity-focused American Rescue Plan Act programming including $40.6 million for rapid reemployment, High Road Training Partnerships, and support services for those most impacted by the pandemic, as well as another $99 million for small businesses and industries through grants and other capital access, legal services, technical assistance, entrepreneurship support, public health information (Safer at Work) and PPE (PPE Unite).

In April 2021, via a historic motion by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, the Board of Supervisors began the process to create a new County department for workforce and economic development. While the original direction from the Board of Supervisors included a target start date in October 2022, the new DEO launched ahead of schedule. The work of this new department and its staff has continued uninterrupted throughout its transition from WDACS.

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