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South Coast Business Forum to Present Free Economic Vitality Symposium

Business and government representatives will gather June 8 in Santa Barbara to discuss ideas for stimulating the economy

The South Coast Business Forum will produce an Economic Vitality Symposium from 3 to 6 p.m. June 8 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara. The event is free.

Business people and government representatives have been invited to participate in the discussions, and 250 people are expected to attend. The event is intended to stimulate plans for speeding the slow-covering local economy.

Speakers include the directors of the Economic Vitality Corporation of San Luis Obispo and the Ventura Economic Development Corporation. Also presenting will be Jeff Bermant, founder of the Goleta high-tech corporation Virtual World Computing; Joe Vetrano of Carpinteria manufacturer BEGA-USA; Marge Cafarelli, president of Urban Developments; and Jeanette Webber, owner of the Santa Barbara Hotel Group.

The speaker panels will be moderated by Henry Dubroff, owner and editor of the Pacific Coast Business Times, and Janet Garufis, president of Montecito Bank & Trust.

Michael Holliday, chairman of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, will present the new South Coast economic vitality web portal. He will also facilitate a group discussion of ideas from the audience.

The mission of the South Coast Business Forum is to engage all segments of the business community in a collaborative process to ensure an environment that is supportive of sustainable economic vitality and quality of life for the South Coast region.

Representatives from participating organizations meet monthly to share projects and strategies and work collaboratively to develop and implement a regional economic development plan.

The organization was formed in 2010. The forum advocated for passage of Measure A and the creation of the hotel business improvement district. Both measures have passed and been implemented. Two conferences were held in 2010: a meeting of all board members of the nine participating organizations to share common goals, and a meeting of the business community and mayors and city administrators to review collaboration that is resulting in an improved local economy. Both events were well attended and successful. The forum agreed to a central web portal for South Coast economic development activities.

Southern California Gas Co. and Allied Waste Systems of Santa Barbara sponsor this event.

— Steve Cushman is president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.

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