By Christian Hetrick
Austin Metoyer has seen downtown Long Beach go through several cycles of reinvention. The alum of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy remembers walking through an empty downtown mall as a kid before it was torn down. Later, he witnessed the development of the City Place shopping center – and the eventual closing of big box retailers that occupied its space.
Now, the Long Beach native is helping his city navigate yet another disruption that could change downtown forever: the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s president and CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, a nonprofit “city within a city” that manages two business improvement districts by providing maintenance, marketing and economic development. With office workers unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels, Metoyer is tasked with envisioning the next reinvention of downtown in Long Beach, a city of roughly 460,000 people.
Watch our video interview with Metoyer, who earned a Master’s in Urban Planning, as he explains how the pandemic has disrupted downtowns, why a focus on serving residents could be the key to their revival, and how he’s using what he learned from the USC Price School to tackle this challenging moment.