Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is
the voice of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes
a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region.
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There is no doubt that our region and our nation are facing challenging economic times. That is why now more than ever, it is vital for us to celebrate the job creators in our community. While they vary in size and industry, these businesses are providing the opportunities and investments that sustain families, retain talent and provide the foundation for future economic growth in Southern California.
Last Thursday, 1,200 business and civic leaders together with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe and elected officials from throughout our region gathered to honor and celebrate job creators and community builders at the Chamber’s 119th annual Inaugural Dinner.
During one powerful moment in the evening, Joey Ray Lucerno from Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles accepted the Civic Medal of Honor on behalf of Father Greg Boyle. A former gang member, Lucerno spent a decade in prison before Father Boyle helped him discover the strength and desire to turn his life around. Today, Lucerno guides other former gang members as they turn their lives around, find jobs and realize their full potential. This year’s Civic Medal of Honor recipient, Father Boyle, highlights our region’s greatest asset – our young people – along with one of our most daunting challenges – poverty and gang violence.
In honoring Father Boyle, we reaffirmed the business community’s commitment to ending gang violence in our city by investing in at-risk neighborhoods, creating job opportunities, and working together to strengthen our public school system.
The Chamber celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of our region by honoring one of L.A.'s greatest entrepreneurs, Alfred E. Mann. During his career, Mann founded 16 companies in aerospace, biotech, semiconductor and other groundbreaking industries.
Entrepreneurs throughout Southern California share his insatiable appetite for hard work and innovation. Thursday evening, incoming Chair Tim McCallion, Verizon, urged elected officials to reaffirm our city’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs like Mann by reducing bureaucratic red tape, lowering business taxes, and maximizing business assistance for new start-ups.
The Chamber also celebrated one of our region’s oldest and most innovative companies, Raytheon. Raytheon’s roots in L.A. go back to 1932 and the high-tech company employs 10,000 people in L.A. County, half of which are engineers.
We honored Raytheon to reaffirm our region’s commitment to keeping major companies and their high-paying jobs in the L.A. area and supporting their efforts to grow, expand and give back to our communities.
Finally, the Chamber honored my predecessor, Russell “Rusty” J. Hammer who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. Hammer was a tireless advocate for making L.A. a better place to live and work. He was a good friend and an inspiration to leaders here in L.A. and across the nation during his illness.
McCallion closed the evening with a challenge to business and government to join together to build a business climate that is committed to making it easier to create new jobs and new investment to employ our citizens and power the Southern California economy. In celebrating new jobs and growing businesses, we can ensure that the economic future of our citizens will shine as brightly as the Southern California sun.
And that’s The Business Perspective.
Gary L. Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
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