World’s Fair Crowdfunding Its Way to Los Angeles

As posted in the Los Angeles Business Journal, April 14, 2015 by Elyse Glickman See the original post here

A group of business owners, executives and county officials want to bring a world’s fair to Los Angeles, and they’re starting their campaign with a fundraising drive on crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

The group, which started raising money last week and has raised about $41,000 so far, hopes to bring in $100,000 over the course of 88 days, said Dotty Kaminsky, executive director of the Los Angeles World’s Fair.

Organizers say the fair would bring thousands of jobs to the city, help stimulate the economy and spotlight new technologies from companies related to entertainment, transportation and other fields. Fair pavilions would be set up near local transit stops to highlight L.A.’s burgeoning mass transit network. The Indiegogo campaign aims to raise the money needed to build the first pavilion.

“It’s really going to be transformative,” said fair backer Loren Sokolow, who is also the chief financial officer for downtown Los Angeles engineering firm Psomas. “The pavilions are going to be multipurpose and will be something for the fair, but then, hopefully, transformed into something for the community.”

Serial entrepreneur Robert Vanech, who is also the chief financial officer for Venice-based Zealot Networks, chairs the Los Angeles World’s Fair and said the event would create jobs. Vanech, along with other investors, put in about $110,000 last year to get the project started.

“I see the world’s fair as an economic catalyst and showcase of innovation that will create more jobs for California than any other single event or endeavor in U.S. history,” Vanech said. “Its impact is estimated to bring more visitors to the greater L.A. area than an Olympics and World Cup combined.”

The idea for the world’s fair originally stemmed from the non-profit RailLA, a local group that has worked in the past to promote a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles. With the delay of that project, the focus shifted to producing an L.A. World’s Fair.

Organizers hope to kick off the fair in 2022. It would run over the course of two years and involve other Los Angeles companies, including downtown architecture firm Gensler, and local public agencies.

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said in a statement that the Board of Supervisors supports the campaign.

“As host, we welcome the world to explore and enjoy the many diverse cultural, recreational and educational venues of the nation’s largest county,” Antonovich said in a statement. “The centerpiece of our World’s Fair experience is our regional transportation network connecting cities, communities and cultures throughout our County to enhance trade, mobility and air quality.”

If organizers are successful, a Los Angeles World’s Fair would mark the first world’s fair in the United States since one held in New Orleans in 1984.