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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Solid Growth Reported At Annual Conference

The 16th annual Valley Industry and Commerce Association Forecast Conference, held on October 29, provided Valley businesspeople with concrete evidence that the local economy is on the upward slope. A report issued by Cal-State Northridge San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center director Daniel Blake claimed that job growth has returned to the San Fernando Valley. The Valley’s private sector added more than 7,600 jobs last year, a 1.2% increase when compared with 2002. “The San Fernando Valley economy is on a solid growth. All of the local indicators point to a continued expansion of Valley jobs and payrolls,” Blake said.” Consistent with the leap in job growth, Blake also asserted that the Valley’s unemployment claims descended sharply in the first half of 2004. “This 2004 descent even defied the Valley’s normally strong seasonal pattern of rising unemployment claims in the first half of the year,” Blake said. Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. followed Blake at the lectern, issuing a more measured but still optimistic prognosis for the Los Angeles economy. “We’ve had 4.5% growth which is very solid. The economy is going to slow down in terms of GDP but job growth will be a little bit better. In order to keep the economy going we will need a very strong push on productivity,” Kyser said. “Consumer confidence has started to recover and after-tax profits are strong. That generally means more jobs, but companies are still very cautious.” Kyser also mentioned that the budgetary woes that have plagued Sacramento in recent years will continue into 2005. “We’ll be faced with a major budget issue next year in Sacramento, so get ready,” Kyser said. Even with the possibility of Sacramento’s financial struggles continuing into the next year, Valley businesspeople in the audience came away pleased with the economists’ latest findings. “I’m a community college president and this conference gave me an idea of what my job is going to be like in the next year and what programs and curriculums we can strengthen. It was good information that showed some positive growth and trends for the future,” Pierce College President Thomas Oliver said. Outsourcing discussed Another highlight of the VICA conference was a discussion of the future workforce, outsourcing, and “home” sourcing. In that panel, Darren Dang, managing director of Karen Hill Scott Co., Teague McKnight, vice-president of Outsource Plus, and USC professor Frances Pereira debated the pros and cons of outsourcing. “Something to consider when outsourcing, is whether or not the task to be outsourced is core to your company or not. Such things such as creative tasks and intellectual property can never be outsourced,” Dang said. “Sometimes when people outsource, they get too hands off. Always leave a paper trail and be in constant communication with the other company you are working with.” Pereira advised companies not to necessarily rush to outsource, as “home” sourcing can also be a viable option. “Jet Blue provides customer support in a virtual environment saving them a great deal of overhead in terms of office space and other factors. We have to change the way that we do business in order to get full savings. There needs to be a new matrix in productivity measures. Working from home and not going into an office can minimize traffic congestion as well,” Pereira said. Outsourcing inevitable? Ultimately, all three speakers agreed that outsourcing was the inevitable product of globalization and in the long run it will be a boon to the American economy. In another session, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, John Chiang from the State Board of Equalization, and Bruce Seaton, interim executive director of the Port of Los Angeles weighed in on globalization in Los Angeles. Antonovich advised Angeleno city planners to improve their utilization of the Palmdale and Ontario airports. “In the 1960s, the city planners actually had a vision for a regional airport system and accordingly they bought land in Palmdale and Ontario for the airports. Today’s vision can’t even be called a vision. They feel that this one plan from the past can fit the Los Angeles of the future. It can’t,” Antonovich said. Chiang stressed the importance of bringing California’s antiquated tax code into the new century. “The greatest concern for Los Angeles and globalization is that we have to make sure we have the ability to compete internationally. The key tax financial structure was created in the 1930’s,” Chiang said. “Our financial structure indicates that we need a monumental turn.”

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