San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership CEO leaving for LA River project

By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Cynthia Kurtz, president and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, announced Monday that she is leaving to become chief operating officer for the LA River Revitalization Corp.

The nonprofit organization is looking to create a 51-mile green way corridor along the river that will restore the area’s natural environment and attract businesses through public/private partnerships.

Kurtz, who began work with the partnership in January 2009, said she’s ready for a change.

“After seven years I think it’s good for me to try something new, and it’s good for the partnership,” the Pasadena resident said. “An organization like this needs transition. We got through a recession fairly well in the San Gabriel Valley. But I think a new leader with lots of synergy and economic development experience will really launch the partnership into a new era.”

Kurtz’ last day with the partnership will be Dec. 11 and she begins her new job on Dec. 14. The partnership is seeking a replacement for Kurtz.

During her tenure with the Irwindale-based organization, Kurtz has been instrumental in strengthening programs to boost the region’s economy and create jobs.

“We have been able to track more bills and spend more time with elected officials, both here and in Washington,” she said. “We also developed a whole new marketing strategy that looks at leveraging our resources in specified sectors that are growing here in the region.”

She noted two that are thriving.

“Really exciting things are happening here in manufacturing and with services that support the aerospace industry and bioscience,” she said. “We’re well positioned for that with the Keck Graduate Institute and with City of Hope. There’s a lot going on in our hospitals and along a whole corridor with bioscience companies.”

Kurtz has also helped coordinate the partnership’s outreach to local schools with enhanced business curriculums, internships and job shadowing.

“We’ve been pulling together education and business in a region where more than 22 percent of the adult population doesn’t have a high school degree,” she said. “We have to be willing to step forward and work on that.”

Don Sachs, who serves on the partnership’s board of directors, said Kurtz will be missed.

“She has done a great job,” said Sachs, executive director of the Industry Manufacturers Council. “She brought a lot of experience and contacts to the partnership, so when she talked to people there was a certain comfort level there. She will be hard to replace.”

Kurtz, who earned a master’s degree in transportation and urban development from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in community development and housing from Pennsylvania State University, previously worked as city manager for Pasadena and assistant city manager and director of the city’s Public Works and Transportation Department.

Prior to that, she was Pasadena’s capital improvement administrator and administrator of transportation planning and finance for the city of Portland.