I went to a very impressive event this morning called the “Business Outlook Breakfast 2012.”  It is the biggest event of the year that the Irvine Chamber of Commerce puts on, and from quick math while I was looking around the conference hall, it looks like over 700 people were there, maybe 800.

The Chamber partners with the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business for this annual event.  I wasn’t there last year, but I heard that parking was pretty tough.  This year, there were about 40 Marriott parking attendants already at their stations when I got there at 6:45, and parking was a breeze – so well done there.

The keynote speakers for the Business Outlook Breakfast were Dr. Andrew J. Policano, the Dean of the Paul Merage School, and Former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm.

Irvine Business Outlook Breakfast

A packed room at 7:30...

I’ve heard great things about Dr. Policano, and that he was good at getting complex economic issues down to the level that I could understand – economics isn’t my strong suit.  He did a great summary of all of the major issues facing the US/California/Irvine, even talking about things like the issues in Greece, how that might play out in the European Union, etc.

The thing I liked the most was that he told it like it was, and wasn’t afraid to deliver unpopular news (namely, that there is no possible way to crawl out of where we are without higher taxes.)  I’ll definitely take any opportunity I can in the future to hear him speak.

I didn’t expect to love Governor Granholm – sure, she’d done some really good things in Michigan, but I was expecting to hear a super-liberal viewpoint.  (Note to self, never discuss politics or religion…)

But anyway, she had some really good, common-sense strategies about local, state, and federal governments working together with businesses.  Down-to-Earth stuff that seemed to make sense to many in the crowd – as I looked around, I saw lots of heads nodding to some of her stronger points.

One of the things she talked about that I liked was fostering the creation of new businesses.  Not a new sentiment obviously, but she said that if all the states and cities are simply trying to attract existing businesses to move “there,” then when one state benefits, another suffers.

There were a few other practical ideas that really made sense to me, so I hope that she is able to follow through on some of the things she is working on.

Here’s a great video slideshow of the event that Krystyl Nottage from the Irvine Chamber put together:

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Oh, and the breakfast was surprisingly good too – hard to imagine they can serve 800 people so quickly and keep the food nice and hot, but they did.

I’m proud to be a member of the Irvine Chamber regardless, but when you attend events like the Business Outlook Breakfast, you realize they truly are world-class in not only running large events, but in delivering great value and pertinent info to business owners.



The front of the Irvine Marriott shortly after the event ended - no major lines or issues...