To the rest of the country, Los Angeles is La La Land, a souless, superficial city, dominated by Hollywood and not much else. But the nation's second-largest metropolis is wrestling with many of the same economic challenges as the rest of the country, in some cases sooner. Los Angeles may even serve as a model for what other cities should and should not do. On Dec. 14, the brianiacs who toil by the sea at the Milken Instutute released a comprehensive look at LA, its economy and its future. Yes, the city's banking, aerospace and manufacturing sector have shrunk. Trade-related jobs at its massive port have not picked up the slack. The gap between rich and poor has widened, in large part due to a flood of new immigrants. The Milken group's solution is to emphasize small businesses as a source of jobs, create incentives for them, including tax credits, securitization of small business loans and other sources of community-targeted financing. They say we need to train workers not only in language skills, but for careers in computers, telecom and other growth sectors. Love it or hate it, sprawling, unwieldly Los Angeles is America's future.

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