By Gloria Zuurveen, Editor-in-Chief
“We are growing our economic base exponentially, but we are also managing that growth responsibly.”
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts
I love it!
Mayor James T. Butts has 50 year history with Inglewood. A Black man who is not afraid to dare for greatness for his 92% Black and Brown 9 square mile city. Over the years, PACE NEWS has featured him and his progressive posture of power to propel his beloved City of Inglewood to greatness as it is today surrounding by a metropolis like the County of Los Angeles. Inglewood is #1 when it comes to a true testament of economic resurrection and it’s all because of the man with a plan and because of him, today Inglewood shines.
“We are growing our economic base exponentially, but we are also managing that growth responsibly,” Mayor Butts said during an interview with Emilie St. John, a contributing writer for the Los Angeles WAVE newspaper owned by publisher, Plurial Marshall, a member of California Black Media. Mayor Butts was braggadocious and he has the right to be. Who wouldn’t be with numbers amassed by the City for the world to see. Mayor Butts is the man, a powerful negotiator, and a fighter and he doesn’t back down. Just look on the corner of LaBrea and Florence, a new Target store with residential housing attached. Less than 10 days ago, the City Council approved another step forward in the process of building the Inglewood Transit Connector (ITC); an overhead transit People Mover designed to reduce traffic congestion and add convenience for the City. Look, Inglewood is about to get their own twin towers like New York and Downtown Los Angeles. Inglewood is on the move and this is good news.
In a May 23rd Inglewood City Council meeting, it was approved that an estimated $7.6 million yearly be spent on continuous maintenance and operation costs of the ITC project. The construction of the project which St. John reported on is said to be a 1.6-mil automated transit connector and it is s scheduled to cost almost $1.8 billion with the city already accumulating $800 million towards those costs. City consultants are expecting to receive the remaining $1 billion from the federal government by year’s end.
This reminds me of what my Big Mama used to talk about in Mississippi out in the country away from the metropolis of a city like Inglewood. She taught us all about “priming a pump”; you have to give to get. We had to take water to prime the pump if we wanted to get water. This is what Mayor Butts is doing in Inglewood and it is beneficial for his constituents, his greater community, who can see the progress of continually priming the Inglewood pump by his vision in seeking the connector project.
He is building on a decade long foundation of economic vision. He is making it happen through fierce negotiation and creating an exponential amount of phenomenal growth whereby everybody wins. The unemployment rate in Inglewood has dropped from a disastrous 17.5% when he took office to less than 5%. Every development agreement brokered by the Mayor for the construction of these historic Sports/Entertainment structures contains a 35% Local Hire goal that has resulted in record employment for Inglewood residents. A Hard To Hire clause resulted in over 100 convicted felons working daily in Inglewood at prevailing wages. The City has gone from impending bankruptcy to a AA+ bond rating. The value of residential real estate has tripled on his watch. Inglewood residents now have generational wealth to pass on to their children, an unheard of concept in Inglewood before now.
“Inglewood is all in on the ITC,” said Mayor James T. Butts after the vote. “The ITC is a crucial component of the Inglewood Renaissance. We are growing our economic base exponentially, but we are also managing that growth responsibly.”
Growing and managing growth.
Not growing and frivolously wasting the seeds of progress.
I remember when Mayor Butts first came into office and the first thing he did was cut the waste and invest in the community.
He cut the fat off so Inglewood could emerge as a rising Phoenix on the national stage. In Inglewood, cutting the fat and priming the pump has proven over and over to be a winning methodology to growth. Butts has proven that he a leader. As a Deputy Chief of Police in Inglewood, as a 15 year Chief of Police in Santa Monica, as an Assistant General Manager of Los Angeles International Airport. He’s sound; he does not fool around and today; Mayor Butts’ name is all over town. He has been named by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the 500 most influential leader in Los Angeles County a record 8 consecutive years in a row. They highlighted Inglewood/SoFi deal as the #1 development in the United States in 2021. He brought City subsidized Tennis lessons by former minority Olympic competitors to the children of Low-Income Inglewood Families. He also brought the Rams, the Chargers, the Clippers, the NFL Network, the LA Philharmonic Youth Orchestra program, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, a YouTube 6,000 seat Performing Arts Theater and a ShowTime Production Studio. All in 8 years’ time.
He has previewed his vision with this vote of approval and with the same determination that continues the rise of Inglewood. The investment is well worth it as all costs of construction are to be covered by grant funds. Inglewood has become a destination city.
Mayor Butts said it best in the Los Angeles WAVE, when he touted his pride and asked others to enjoy the ride. “Today we’ve shown that we are not just asking other stakeholders and government agencies to support transportation in Inglewood, but rather to join with us.” Mayor Butts has two sayings; first is Rule number one….never be number two; and; The only thing that has changed in Inglewood is..Everything…. Couldn’t sum it up better.