The Valley Economic Alliance Newsletter September 2016 Highlights

Mobile Apps & Websites to Increase Voter Registration & Turnout were created at Valley Hackathon II

Valley high school and college students created mobile applications and websites with solutions to increase voter registration and turnout at Valley Hackathon II on September 23rd hosted by The Valley Economic Alliance at Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Students from Burbank High School, CSUN, Glendale Community College, John Burroughs High School, Granada Hills Charter High School, Fullerton College, Cal State Polytechnic University Pomona, and Crafton Hills Community College participated in the competition and focused on local elections and ballot measures for the regions of San Fernando, Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank, and Calabasas.

Teams pitched their final strategies to a panel of judges for a chance to win prizes sponsored by CSUN, DWP Information Architects, and V Moda. Judges scored teams based on technicality, marketability, functionality, social impact, and viability.

The judging panel included Adam Velardo, Infrastructure Technology Manager with event sponsor Southern California Gas Company; Raj Dhillon, District Representative with event sponsor Senator Robert Hertzberg; Ryan Pasiliao, Information Systems Specialist with event sponsor City of Calabasas; Maryam Abbassi, Information Systems Manager with Information Technology Agency, City of Los Angeles; and Bree Breckenridge Communications Deputy with Office of Councilmember Mitch Englander.

First place winners created, a simple and user-friendly website to register to vote, learn about candidates and their views, and encourage voter registration with incentives and voter turnout with regular updates on elections and community impact. Website users can also connect through social media and via email. Sponsors can also invest in this website with giveaways including promotional t-shirts, lanyards and stickers to serve as a reminder to vote.

Another team created a mobile application with the focus of “make voting convenient” targeting the 18-29 year old audience. The team pitched a secure mobile application to register to vote, learn about candidates and ballot measures per location, would appeal to younger voters, is faster and more convenient, and easier to access information regarding candidates and measures.

Students brought their resumes and networked with apprenticeship sponsors at the event, who were offering internship opportunities to applicable candidates. Recruitment representatives from City of Los Angeles, Office of Congressman Tony Cardenas, Office of Senator Robert Hertzberg, Office of Councilmember Mitch Englander, and L.A. Promise Fund attended.

We had a Luau!

The Valley Economic Alliance hosted a Hawaiian themed “End of Summer Bash” Open House on September 21st.

Guests enjoyed Hawaiian food, music, a live dance performance and raffle prizes. Attendees networked and learned about businesses The Alliance has assisted and new accelerator program businesses including; Goodwill Southern California, Black Market Gelato, Dream Dinners, BuzD, and Virtual Reality Xperience.

Guests also supported a Valley cause by donating dog related items to Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation; a Sherman Oaks based non-profit organization that rescues dogs from the dog meat trade throughout Asia and helps find foster and forever families.

Honor a Hero-Hire a Vet Job & Resource Fair
Thursday, November 10, 2016

The most anticipated veteran job fair of the year! The Honor a Hero-Hire a Vet Job and Resource Fair is on November 10th, from 9am-1pm, at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills.

Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Employer exhibit opportunities are also available for businesses with job openings.
Early Bird registration is $299 until October 14th.
After this date, registration is $349.
(includes a table, two chairs, lunch for two, and validated parking for two)

Please contact Erica at for more information or to register.

Business Assistance Success

The Valley Economic Alliance assisted Air Conditioning and Heating Mechanical Masters, Inc.
(ACH) in March 2016, when they were struggling due to the Porter Ranch gas leak. ACH is a family owned business and has been servicing the San Fernando Valley for 30 years. They specialize in new custom homes, remodels, commercial, residential and historical buildings, equipment replacement, design and build.

ACH was down nearly 40% when Kenny Broderick, business assistance consultant with The Alliance, met with owners Eric and Julie Downs. They faced issues including customers relocating out of the area and had to retraining their employees to do more than one job including installations.

They have since purchased fabricating machines that have allowed them to make their own custom fixtures for heating and air conditioning ducts. This gave them the ability to layout more efficient systems and cut down their operating costs. Business has picked up and ACH is expanding by adding on new employees to field management and service tech.

In the News
No Hacking at Hackathon 2016

Coding and hacking may be what comes to mind when Valley Hackathon II is mentioned, however, that is not the case this time. The 2nd annual event was held in the Grand Salon at CSUN from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday, September 23rd.

The event was produced by The Valley Economic Alliance, a non-profit organization seeking to increase stability and economic vitality within their five-city region including Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Los Angeles, and San Fernando. The student turnout doubled since last year’s event.

“Students are so motivated and encouraged, it’s nice to see,” said Angela Amirkhanian, the event coordinator.

Amirkhanian handles all education related events and focuses on the educational initiative at The Valley Economic Alliance.

This time around, the organization wanted to focus on a topic that was relative to the community, such as the presidential elections, and seek ways to engage high school and college students in casting their vote.

This year, students were asked to create a strategy for an app or a website to increase both voter registration and voter turnout for local elections within the five-city region, according to Amirkhanian.

There’s just one catch: students had no idea what the challenge was until they walked into the competition.

“We were looking for students that were interested in two things: the technology side, IT, website design and development, mobile application development in design as well as on the government side,” Amirkhanian said.

Students from all over the Valley came together to form groups and practice teamwork skills that will come in handy in the future.

All groups were asked to narrow down everything they’ve created and provide a five minute PowerPoint presentation of their final pitch for the panel of judges.

Judges were given checklists to fill out during presentations to decipher the winning group. Some of the criteria were based on whether the app or website was functional, if it accomplished the stated goal, how easily understood it was, and whether it was technical.

“An event like this where the students are designing an app or website that will increase voter turnout is something near and dear to the senator’s heart,” said Raj Dhillon, one of the judges who is a representative for Senator Robert M. Hertzberg’s office in Sacramento.

Read Full.

Source: The Sundial, By Audrey Arellano, September 25.