By Francis Taylor, Executive Editor
Among other duties Ms. Williams will manage and coordinate the planning and implementation of the Economic Development work programs, including business attraction, retention, job creation, business assistance, marketing and related functions.
Qiuana Williams joined the City of Inglewood’s professional staff in February as the
Economic Development Manager, filling a position that had been vacant for some time as the city sought to identify an individual with unique competencies and talent, capable of helping the city’s small businesses comparably match the humongous growth that is being realized with the multi-billion dollar developments of the Rams’ SOFI Stadium and the Clippers’ INTUIT Dome.
Williams’ educational and work experience background is impressive and flawless. She has held a progressive set of increasingly more responsible positions with the LA Department of City Planning, the LA Department of Transportation, former Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Street’s Initiative, the LA Housing Authority, and the State of California Board of Equalization.
In addition, Williams has been an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Southern California, has amassed numerous certificates related to her field and holds a B.S. Degree in Business Administration and a M.S. Degree in Geography and Planning.
Williams shared her vision for the City of Inglewood, as the Economic Development Manager with INGLEWOOD TODAY in an exclusive interview as follows:
Your background is impressive with the California (CA) Board of Equalization and the City of Los Angeles (LA), what attracted you to the City of Inglewood?
The City of Inglewood is beyond impressive and undergoing a major economic resurgence. Having transformed from the brink of bankruptcy into the birthing of multiple billion-dollar projects, the creation of generational wealth through increased property values, and a projected surplus of $6m by the end of the fiscal year 2022-2023 among other remarkable accomplishments, is monumental. The growth that has been seen and experienced here, under Mayor Butts’ leadership, is unmatched and it speaks to the visionary leadership at play. Moreover, the unique blend of culture, history, and diversity makes it a special and vibrant place to live, work and play. The city continues to evolve and thrive, upholding the epitome of its moniker, the “City of Champions,” and I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the continued unfolding of greatness as the City ventures to soar to heights never before imagined.
The CA and LA arenas dwarf the City of Inglewood; did you think your move was a step back?
Well, when you have a vision, you see a place for what it will undoubtedly become, not solely for how it currently exists. Joining the City of Inglewood is joining a movement…a movement that demonstrates the critical importance of collaboration, partnership, visionary leadership, and dedication to the true empowerment and uplifting of the people in which you represent.
As the Economic Development Manager of the City of Inglewood, I can play a key role in the continued economic growth and development of the city, which is truly a fulfilling and rewarding experience. It is also worth noting that there is the tremendous value found in working in a smaller City. Inglewood has a 9.1 square mile radius and approximately 110,000 residents, so yes, it’s relatively small but it’s a mighty place to be! We are a fast-growing world-class City that offers the unique opportunity to build relationships with residents, business owners, and stakeholders working in a participatory capacity to recognize challenges and develop actionable solutions in real-time.
Inglewood has emerged as the Jewel of the South Bay with the development that the mayor and council have delivered, it seems that small business development offers the largest growth opportunity for you in your new assignment. What is next in your view for growth and development for small businesses in Inglewood?
The robust level of new development and at such an exponential rate has sent a powerful signal to the marketplace, positioning the City of Inglewood as an innovative ecosystem that can lay a foundation from start-up to growth. Inglewood is vibing from the synergy with large-scale investments, major attractions, and world events such as Super Bowl LVI and the upcoming 2028 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The current climate in which investors will have to compete to advance economic opportunities across the city has created a healthy appetite ripe with opportunities for small and local business growth, retention, and attraction.
I have a host of ideas for the growth and development of small businesses in Inglewood, particularly the homegrown businesses that were operating here as the lifeblood of the city before the economic boom. Some ideas that support my vision to uplift small businesses in the city involve refining the nexus between civic and economic culture to provide every aspiring entrepreneur and existing business owner in Inglewood with access to the resources and markets they need to start, compete and stay in business. Overall, my vision focuses on creating a supportive environment for small businesses to flourish, while also promoting Inglewood as a destination for sports, entertainment, shopping, and dining, which could help attract and retain small businesses in the city.
Your position was vacant for some time, arguably because the city wanted to identify a candidate with unique abilities and capabilities that would make a real difference. What is your view of your position and what is your vision of what you want to accomplish for the City of Inglewood’s small businesses?
I certainly take my newly appointed position with a high level of seriousness. A position focused on small businesses can be critical to the economic development of a city, but also to the livelihood of our residents. Small businesses play a significant role in creating jobs, uplifting the standard of living for residents, and driving the local economy. Having a dedicated economic development manager will help to ensure that economic success is sustained and reaches into every corner of the 9.1 square mile radius of the City through the provision of proactive support and resources such as the identification of viable funding opportunities, reduction of regulatory barriers to entry, direct technical assistance, workforce training and education, fostering partnerships and expanding new jobs and entrepreneurial innovation, through institutionalizing a culture of “economic opportunity for all” throughout the city. Overall, we are working to holistically create a lasting economic culture that inspires collaboration to create a city recognized as one of the world’s most innovative, livable, and inclusive Cities- the City of Champions reimagined.
Have you had an opportunity to meet with the council members to discuss your view of what your position must accomplish and what they expect of you in your new assignment with the City of Inglewood team? What are their expectations? If you have not yet met with them, what will you offer as your plan going forward?
My role requires that I work closely with the Mayor, Council, and City Managers to promote economic development opportunities and to serve as an economic development advocate for the city. Together, we will diligently work to comprehensively bring forward the economic development mission for the City of Inglewood, which is to: Drive economic growth with a diverse mix of businesses that serve residents and visitors and complement the existing City; reinforce the Citywide brands of “Sports, Entertainment, Recreation and Culture” and Class A Office Business; preserve a high quality of life for residents and encourage business and neighborhood compatibility.
INGLEWOOD TODAY is one of hundreds of Inglewood’s businesses that have seen the economic growth and development that has arrived with the billion-dollar NFL stadiums and NBA basketball arenas, what are you going to do with us, the small businesses that have preceded the recent developments and positioned Inglewood to emerge as the jewel of the South Bay?
Small businesses are truly the lifeblood of any community, and therefore supporting local small businesses is crucial for the vitality and sustainability of the city. These businesses often serve as the backbone of a local economy, with INGLEWOOD TODAY for example having provided the city and its residents with vital information and promoted City activity/events, and businesses, and created jobs for the past 38 years. Thus, laying down and cementing the “support beams” (no pun intended) in place that are necessary to level the playing field for businesses that have proceeded recent developments. It’s our local businesses, like INGLEWOOD TODAY, that deliver a more personal touch and unique offerings that help to differentiate our community and make it a more attractive place to live, do business, and visit. So, I say to the magnificent businesses who have ushered the city to this point, I am here, I want to know you, I want to build a relationship with you, and I am here to support your growth and expansion.
Homeless, seniors, youth and local criminals provide a challenge for any growth and development of municipal communities. What are your thoughts about these categories?
While the City continues to make tremendous efforts to improve and revitalize its finances, crime profiles, brand, and overall livability, it is important to note that addressing the unhoused, particularly among seniors and youth, is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. Providing affordable housing, job training, and access to social services can help address some of the root causes of homelessness. Additionally, providing mental health and addiction treatment among other wrap-around services is critical to ensuring that once housed, homelessness doesn’t reoccur. With issues such as crime, too often we focus on the “what” but not the “why”. Why is crime so prevalent? Leaning into the “why” is important to address some of the root causes of illegal behavior, such as poverty, lack of access to opportunities and resources such as education and quality housing. Providing opportunities for, job training, reducing barriers to accessing higher level education or vocational training, and community benefits and programming can help reduce crime and recidivism rates. Overall, it’s important for municipal communities to work together with local organizations and government agencies to address these complex issues in a comprehensive and compassionate manner.
Do you expect that your plans will require the Forum, SOFI Stadium and INTUIT Dome to include local businesses, and news outlets in their promotional activities?
The unprecedented growth and development happening in Inglewood is translating into measurable community benefits. We are taking an integrated approach to attracting large-scale investments and engines of growth, balanced with a supportive economic ecosystem that provides support mechanisms such as economic inclusion and business assistance strategies to provide small businesses with the necessary resources to compete in the changing market here in Inglewood. For example, the city requires new development to aide in the creation and of job recruitment and training programs to provide employment opportunities to Inglewood residents during construction. The City further requires that all construction contractors have a goal to achieve participation by MBE/DBEs of at least 30% of the total value of contracts and subcontracts awarded for construction activities during the Project, with a goal of at least 50% of the 30% goal being awarded to local qualified businesses located in Inglewood. We’ve seen the immediate results of this with the Hollywood Park Tomorrow Project having done $800m in business with Minority and Women-Led Business Disadvantaged Business Enterprise across all the construction projects as of February 2022 and upwards of $36m in wages for Inglewood residents doing the construction. So, to answer your question, yes, the city strategically optimizes these assets and other resources to enhance the local community as we continue to build a mega city, where no one gets left behind.
What can INGLEWOOD TODAY, the city’s premier weekly news outlet, do to assist with your plans for advancing the economic development of the City of Inglewood?
INGLEWOOD TODAY, has been and continues to be a close partner with the city. There will be quite a bit of activity coming down the pipeline for small businesses here in Inglewood, so I hope to foster continued collaboration with INGLEWOOD TODAY, as a vehicle of information sharing. We want to ensure that every business owner and resident of Inglewood is informed of the city’s ongoing efforts to identify and deploy resources and opportunities to advance economic development in the city. Thank you Inglewood Today for your historic contribution to the city, and cheers to your illuminating future.