Leaders from throughout the Santa Clarita Valley’s business community descended on the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday for the Real Estate and Economic Outlook presentation.
Speakers talked about the future of the local and state economy, and some of the forces that will help fuel economic recovery in 2013.
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“The EDC felt it was a success for a number of reasons,” said John Shaffery of Poole &Shaffery, which was the main sponsor of the presentation hosted by College of the Canyons and the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp.
“To give everyone in the business community, business owners, a chance to network and be able to hear the forecast, and you get to find out what’s going on,” he said.
“The idea was to encourage partnerships, as well,” said Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the SCVEDC, touting the the goals of the SCVEDC — retaining and expanding business in the Santa Clarita Valley.
While home sales are at the highest levels since 2007, which is a major driving force in the economy, the local market is likely to start seeing more substantial gains in 2014, said Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast.
And the future of industry is likely to reside in three areas: technology, biotechnology and health care.
He also discussed a real disconnect between the average person’s impression of the state of our economy, the state of the economy and where it’s headed.
Part of the reason for the disillusionment is due to the fact that the average person’s take-home pay has taken a big hit during the Great Recession.
“Real income is at its lowest point in more than 20 years, when adjusted for inflation,” he said. “Our forecast is that this is going to change.”
Within the technology sector, semiconductors are thought to be the driving force, because they are omnipresent in nearly all new gear, he said.
Tablets, such as the iPad and Google Nexus, are also likely to see a 40 percent increase in market share.
Renowned economist Mark Watkins discussed some of the broader challenges to whether the golden state still has a future to match its moniker, including a shrinking labor force due to a retiring baby boomer population.
“The answer isn’t a popular with a lot of the people that I’ve talked to, but it’s increasing immigration,” Watkins said.
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Increasing legal immigration and making the process less onerous will have numerous advantages, he said.
The most apparent: “Immigrants start businesses at a higher rate than any other group,” he said.
He noted that among migrant populations, statistically, Greeks are most likely to take the risk and start a new business.
Business regulation was also a crippling challenge in California, where things like energy development and other prospects are being stifled by Sacramento.
“You have to understand the situation in Greece,” Watkins said, referring the country’s recent economic crises. “The climate there makes California seem business friendly.”