California State University, Long Beach
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Economic Forum Held March 21

Published: March 17, 2014

CSULB’s 2014 Regional Economic Forum will be held on Friday, March 21, from 7:30-10:30 a.m. in the Seaside Ballroom of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

The forum will feature a regional economic overview by Economics’ Heather Stephens, director of the department’s Office of Economic Research which coordinates and conducts applied economic research on important problems facing the region, state and nation.

Stephens’ address will be followed by a panel discussion by local industry experts, including Diana Hendel, Pharm.D., CEO, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach; A.J. Moro, P.E., Acting Executive Director, the Port of Long Beach; and Mario Rodriguez, Director of the Long Beach Airport.

“Our goal with the format is to provide insight on the local economy to all attendees, no matter what industry they work in,” said Stephens, a member of the university since 2012. “With Covered California and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health care is very timely. Travel and tourism are also centerpieces of our local economy. And, no discussion of the local economy can ignore the port of Long Beach. Each panelist will talk about what’s going on at their business or organization and in the industry at large. We’ll provide context about what’s going on in the national and international economies. We’ll talk about regional employment and commuting patterns. While we will provide numbers and data, we will also tell a story about what’s going on politically and economically.”

The forum’s sponsor, CSULB’s Office of Economic Research, has as its mission the study of the greater Long Beach region and the state. “We want to understand what’s going on in the local economy,” said Stephens. “This forum gives us the chance to highlight some of the analysis the Office is doing and to generate additional resources to support future research.”

One reason the forum draws the level of support that it does, Stephens believes, is that it offers a go-to place to meet a diverse group of leaders from around the greater Long Beach region. Participants can ask the experts questions during the question-and-answer session after the panel and, “there is also the chance to mingle,” she said. ”Last year’s participants told us they liked our balance between research and the real world. We hoped to draw a larger audience this year, so we moved from the campus to the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Since this year’s attendance is already at 250, it was the right choice.”

Regional Economic Forum Held March 21 overview by Heather Stephens
Heather Stephens

Stephens feels there are many advantages to the CSULB Regional Economic Forum. While there are many other events that look at the economy of the overall Los Angeles region or the city of Los Angeles, “we are the only one to focus on the Greater Long Beach region. Given the size and diversity of the greater metropolitan area, issues that may be relevant to the greater Long Beach region may get hidden in those more macro-level analyses. Thus, they may not provide insight on what is going on at a more local level.” Stephens said, “With the CSULB forum, we can really focus on what is happening in our region and how Long Beach fits into the greater region’s economy.”

Stephens sees a long future for the forum. “If we can keep support and attendance at their current growing levels, we can do more research related to the region,” she said. “I want regional research to be supported at even higher levels and I’m optimistic about being able to do that. We also want to expand the number of varieties of industries we attract.”

She encourages anyone interested in learning more about the local economy to attend the forum. “I can guarantee you that, if you come to this forum, you’ll learn something you didn’t know before. You will run into someone you didn’t know before and it will help you to think more about how you fit into the future of the greater Long Beach region,” she said.

For more information or to register, go to the forum website.

–Richard Manly