Antelope Valley region poised for earlier economic recovery

AV Board of Trade logo1LANCASTER – Twenty-two speakers from all levels of business, industry and government told an audience of 700 on Friday that Southern California’s Greater Antelope Valley is a region well positioned to be a leader in economic recovery and growth.

Linking their remarks to the 41st annual Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference theme, “Freedom to Succeed,” speakers reported that the more than 2,000 square mile economic region covering North Los Angeles and Southeastern Kern County has continued to build its economy in the face of the national recession and slow recovery.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich talked about continuing investment in transportation infrastructure, and Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner discussed the growth in renewable energy, which is providing construction employment in the high desert regions of both counties.

Antonovich said the strength of the whole Antelope Valley region is found in its people and their sense of community expressed in volunteerism, “a news media that works,” and a cooperative spirit.

In outlining city economic initiatives underway, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris urged listeners to, “catch the wave that will give us a ride we couldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago. If you’re looking for safety you’ve come to the wrong place, because this is where the adventure begins.”

Parris revealed that Lancaster is in negotiations for more than one-half billion dollars in investment, what he called “a game changer.”

Business motivational speaker George Passantino cautioned listeners to avoid taking counsel from their fears about “what if..?” uncertainty, and instead ask “what next?”

In his economic forecast for the region, Dr. Bill Watkins, executive director for the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University, said, “I get the sense you guys can do anything you want. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this level of enthusiasm.”

Watkins said, venture capital has been the driver in California’s anemic growth to this point, but will tend to be less of a factor in the future.  He called Assembly Bill 32, the global climate change law, “a disaster.”

Watkins urged California lawmakers to “do regulation right” by eliminating rules which cause costly delay, competitive disadvantage and business and investor uncertainty.

The regulatory theme was the focus for state Sen. Steve Knight, who said, “it is uncertainty of what government might do each year,” that hurts private sector job creation. Knight added, “Our valley is very resilient…but we are ready to move now, and build and strive toward new technologies.”

Knight was preceded at the podium by Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who addressed the question of federal budget sequestration that threatens both Southern California’s military installations and the hundreds of defense contractors and sub-contractors imperiled by sequestration.

McKeon was not optimistic that the White House will work with the House, which has already passed two bills to avoid automatic across-the-board federal budgets cuts on March 1.

Keynote speakers at the annual conference organized by the Antelope Valley Board of Trade were Craig Jelinek, president and CEO of Costco Wholesale, who grew up in Lancaster, and JR Martinez, the young American wounded warrior who renewed his life and achieved national celebrity as an actor, author and winner on television’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

(Information via press release from the Antelope Valley Board of Trade.)

  8 comments for “Antelope Valley region poised for earlier economic recovery

  1. Moni
    February 24, 2013 at 8:30 am

    There is more death than treated people who come out of this hospital, it’s more an ‘urgent care’ that an ER hospital! I hate ‘Palmdale Regional. Although, the couple doctors there are OK.

    • Doc Rivers
      February 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Palmdale Regional saved my life and I even got a private room to boot. Hey did I mention the food is better than AVH and my doctor works for both. All good for Palmdale Regional.

  2. Scott Pelka
    February 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Rex was running around before the event panting his stooges in various seats around the room and had preplanned when they were to cheer and applaud. And the sad thing is that Rex had mugged himself in just about every photo shown at the so called event. Maybe we should call it “Rex Fest 2013”

  3. Forewarned
    February 23, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Just like the Titanic. The band (our leaders) kept on playing while the Titanic (economy) was sinking.

  4. John Mlynar
    February 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    The City of Palmdale was there. I do not know how or why it was omitted in this report . I will post the remarks made by Mayor Ledford tomorrow. The presentation by Vision Engineering, a Palmdale born and bred company, is deserving of mention. They are creating, not transferring jobs, and that is good for Palmdale, the AV, California, and America.

    • John Mlynar
      February 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Below is the text of the remarks delivered by Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford at the Outlook Conference. Unfortunately, I do not have the text or visuals for Vision Engineering’s presentation; perhaps it will be posted on You Tube or somewhere on the Internet.

      Celebrating Palmdale’s 50 years as an incorporated City gave us the opportunity to not only reflect on five decades of growth and success, but also to revisit our focus for the future.

      In these changing times, our future success in both business and as a thriving community will depend on the continued implementation of what worked well in the past, as well as making necessary adjustments that will sustain us in the years and decades ahead.

      We call this approach to attracting business and building a great and vibrant community, “Success Through Sustainability.”

      “Success Through Sustainability” is achieved by creating dynamic partnerships between our residents and stakeholders in three key areas: Community, Organization and Economy.

      Let’s start with “Community.”
      Palmdale’s motto is “a place to call home.” That really is the sense of community that we have, and how we continue to develop it.
      We develop strong bonds and partnerships with our residents by engaging them to participate in programs such as Neighborhood and Business Watch, volunteering, youth programs and city meetings.

      By maintaining public safety and keeping our crime rate down, which is the number one priority of the City, we build confidence and community pride. In fact, the combined efforts of City staff, law enforcement and residents has produced the lowest crime rate in 20 years.

      Providing vibrant parks and culture for residents also builds pride. We’ve invested over $500 million in City parks and amenities which include facilities such as DryTown Water Park, Palmdale Playhouse, Palmdale City Library and Legacy Commons, and programs that include concerts at the Palmdale Amphitheater, Thursday Night on the Square, aquatics, sports, dance, music and much more.

      All these things together build community pride which is a huge plus in business attraction and retention.

      Next, is ORGANIZATION.
      The combination of the Great Recession and the State of California taking City monies through the elimination of redevelopment agencies has put a financial strain on cities.

      The good news in Palmdale is that the City is fiscally strong and sound, with a budget that is on track to long term sustainability, with a healthy 9.62% reserve and Grade A bond ratings.

      The City was forced to reduce the size of staff, but continues to provide quality services to residents. To do so, the City has reorganized some of the way it conducts business, by contracting out some services, requiring employees to do more and taking advantage of available technologies — all of which provide residents with value for their tax dollars.

      A balanced budget, Grade A bonds and strong financial standing are also great attractions for new businesses.

      The third and hugely important component to “Success Through Sustainability” is the Economy.

      The key driver to a successful and sustainable future is a diversified economy.

      Palmdale offers potential businesses a highly educated workforce through innovative endeavors such as the Palmdale Aerospace Academy, a unique partnership with the City, Palmdale School District; and the AERO Institute, designed to train the next generation of high tech workers.

      Partnerships with groups like Youth Build and New Beginnings provide job training and offer viable career options for our youth.
      A solid and dependable infrastructure is also important to generating commerce.

      The City will invest $20.8 million in FY 2012/13 on projects such as the Avenue S corridor widening, signal upgrades, sewer upgrades, street resurfacing, and more.

      Developing Palmdale as a transportation hub will continue, as Metrolink, California High Speed Rail, Xpress West high speed rail to Las Vegas, the High Desert Corridor and the future Palmdale Airport will position Palmdale as a major intermodal center.

      Growth in the medical industry, as well as new manufacturing and retail opportunities will provide job opportunities for residents in the years ahead.

      The results speak for themselves. Even during the early years of the Great Recession, Palmdale saw retailers like Macy’s, Yard House, Buffalo Wild Wings, Superior Grocers, Vallarta, Super Target, Forever 21, and businesses like Patton Steel, the Palmdale Regional Medical Center, Embassy Suites and NASA with the SOPHIA project, just to name a few, open their doors in Palmdale.

      Today, we’re seeing a lot more activity and interest in new businesses looking to come to Palmdale.

      A rail car company named Kinkisharyo is negotiating right now for building space at Site 9 to build rail cars for Metro.

      New retailers will be coming to the AV Mall soon to fill the space that used to be occupied by Harris/Gottschalks. In fact, the Mall’s newest store, Buckle, is due to open next week.

      We have a major business that’s looking to build over at Fairway Business park, creating construction jobs and more employment opportunities.

      And Palmdale is also a finalist for an aerospace company that will bring upwards of 5,000 jobs to the region.

      One local business that has just recently expanded has an exciting story to tell…a story that began in the garage of its owner, and is now on the cusp of adding 1,000 jobs to its payroll. That business is Vision Engineering, and they’re here today to tell their story of their success in Palmdale.

      It gives me great pleasure at this time to welcome to the stage, from Vision Engineering, Mr. Joseph Avilla. Joseph?

  5. Anon
    February 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    “if you’re looking for safety, you’ve come to the wrong place”… Yes Rex.

  6. Doc Rivers
    February 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    It looks like the City of Palmdale did not even go. I heard they might not be there and thats too bad.

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