Success, New Initiatives, Awards, Election: VEA Board of Governors Annual Meeting

A packed networking reception at Fletcher Hall in Burbank’s Woodbury University

preceded the Valley Economic Alliance (VEA) annual Board of Governors meeting, drawing

industry leaders and local dignitaries on August 21, 2014.

New leadership and a new CEO have united San Fernando Valley area businesses,

putting the VEA’s finances on a positive track with activation of new networking programs and

business retention strategies during the past year.

Woodbury University President Dr. Luis Calingo opened the meeting with a welcome:

“Woodbury University is very proud to be partners of the Valley Economic Alliance, because,

after all, when Woodbury University was created, it was for the purpose of helping develop the

economy of Los Angeles.”

Calingo noted that Woodbury’s School of Business recently received international

recognition and reminded the audience of Woodbury’s value proposition: “We take students from

all backgrounds and transform them into graduates with highly valued degrees.” He pointed out

that Woodbury University recently rated 15th among Money magazine’s top 25 colleges in the

United States.

The Valley Economic Alliance Board Chair Martha Aszkenazy introduced VEA’s CEO

Greg Krikorian, noting that, after 12 months, his impact on the business-driven organization

is markedly positive. Krikorian highlighted VEA events and programs during the past year,

including the 20-year VEA commemoration Reaching New Heights, VEA’s annual Business

Expo, success with the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” program, the Steve Allen Excellence in

Education awards, and new Brokers’ Breakfasts for real estate professionals and investors

organized and hosted with the cities of Glendale and Calabasas.

Krikorian also emphasized VEA’s long-standing partnership with the Los Angeles

Tourism and Convention Board. New VEA board member and L.A. Los Angeles Tourism and

Convention Board Senior Vice-President for Business Affairs Patti MacJennett attended the

annual meeting, commenting that she is “very pleased to see that VEA is reinvigorating itself”

and noting that the Valley Economic Alliance is an important Tourism and Convention Board

partner for promoting and developing tourism as an economic engine for the San Fernando

Crediting VEA’s staff with outstanding outreach, Krikorian outlined tasks and

geographic areas for renewed focus. He discussed business retention, citing efforts by other

counties and states to compete for business from the Valley, and reasserted VEA’s goal to support

and develop business centers and work with regional workforce development and city economic

development staff to encourage business retention.

With Bank of America Senior Vice-President Maria Mesa and U.S. Department of

Veterans Affairs representatives in attendance, VEA’s Krikorian announced Bank of America’s

generous sponsorship of 2014’s “Honor a Hero – Hire a Vet” job and resource fair. Vocational

rehabilitation specialist John Tyler praised the effort, observing that “working with the VEA is

giving us a better avenue to getting our nation’s heroes back on the job.” Krikorian said that VEA

is also reaching out to Valley restaurants with incentives to become ADA compliant.

Expanding the Steve Allen Excellence in Education awards for high schools, and launching

a new retail industry initiative, Krikorian invited member feedback on new efforts, too, including

thoughts, comments and ideas on:

  • • Liveable & Sustainable Communities
  • • Discover the Valley
  • • Economic Development & Retention
  • • Workforce & Education

VEA Board member David Fleming made a special presentation to outgoing L.A. County

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for his vision of establishing the Orange Line. Yaroslavsky said it

has been a privilege and a calling to represent and build this community.

Krikorian reviewed the VEA’s year-end financial statement, which he said has improved and

is now positive.

Each of the five VEA cities’ leaders updated their city’s business outlook:

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy

• A new IKEA project at the corner of San Fernando Blvd. and Alameda Ave., which will

be the largest IKEA in North America

• Nickelodeon moving into the old Jay Leno studio

• Two new hotels for expanded business travel Transportation improvements around the

Bob Hope Airport

• Large number of regional entertainment jobs (1 out of 3) based in Burbank

Calabasas Council Member Fred Gaines

• 6 of the top 25 companies of the San Fernando Valley are in Calabasas

• Luxury auto dealerships, including the new Mini dealership

• TTS, IXIA, On Assignment, Kythera Pharmaceuticals, and the Cheesecake Factory

corporate offices

• Revitalization of Old Town and a retail renaissance

Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan

• The city has formed a nonprofit 501(c)3 Economic Development Corporation to foster

businesses

• Goals to promote 18-hour city, reduce office vacancies, and provide concierge business

services

• Sales tax revenue growing, property values rebounding

Los Angeles/Frank Aguirre, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

• New structure with Back to Basics priority outcomes

• Making Silicon Beach a pipeline to the future

• BusinesSource System for micro-level business assistance; 9 citywide with 3 in the

Valley

• Focus areas: Entertainment, Aerospace, Manufacturing, Health Care, International Trade,

Tourism

San Fernando – Council member Antonio Lopez

• An island surrounded by the City of Los Angeles

• City governance stabilized and structural deficit addressed

• New multi-tenant commercial, Warehouse Shoe Sale store, low-income housing,

downtown densified

• Compania de Café/a new coffee shop chain established

• Anticipating connecting to Orange Line bus system

• Concerned about high-speed rail surface route destroying city and advocating for

underground route along that stretch

• Acknowledge that VEA has been a huge help and resource

The meeting concluded with installation of Governors, Directors and Officers led by

Installation Chair Emeritus Judge Leland Harris.