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California’s Future Predicted at VICA’s 2014 Business Forecast Conference
By: Stuart Waldman


This year, the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA) will hold its 26th Annual Business Forecast Conference on October 3, an all-day event featuring an economic forecast breakfast, panels on issues important to business, and a keynote speaker at lunch. The event also includes exhibit booths, providing marketing and networking opportunities for businesses and guests.


While past years have focused on recession and the subsequent recovery, this year’s conference, “Outlook: Good?”, will take a look into the Magic 8 Ball to address California’s current state of cautious optimism in the face of a $3 billion budget surplus.


Speakers will deliberate over the state’s future on our “Fight to the Finish” and “2035: A California Odyssey” panels. Contentious campaigns are raging on, and measures regarding topics from water to health insurance to the drug and alcohol testing of doctors have qualified for the November 2014 ballot. How will the worst drought in recorded history, an evolving cap-and-trade program, annual minimum wage increases and scores of other issues shape California’s physical and political landscape over the next 20 years? Our panelists will give attendees their insights into how they believe the chips will fall.


Because it is always such a relevant issue to the state, there will be a panel on transportation as in past years, but this time with an emphasis on high-speed rail and roadways. “The Road Ahead” will address high-speed rail in California, which has been given the green light by the federal government, and is set to begin receiving more funding under the state’s cap-and-trade program. Additionally, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched an initiative earlier this year to repair the city’s most ailing streets. Could these projects create jobs and further bolster the economy? Researchers and nonprofit leaders will weigh in.


Panelists speaking about privacy in technology will share with attendees the many ways businesses can keep their consumers, staff and themselves safe from cyber security breaches on our “#privacy” panel. Our “Legislating with the Gavel” and “What Were They Thinking?” panels spotlight blunders of two sorts – dangerous precedents set by court decisions and the colossal mistakes legislators have made, both personally and in regards to policymaking, in recent years.


Lastly, two panels, “More Tests Needed” and “HR: Highly Regulated,” will approach human resources from a healthcare and labor law angle, respectively. California has gone above and beyond in terms of compliance with the Affordable Care Act, and health plans are working hard to make insurance affordable and easily navigable for consumers. How has 2014, the official test run for the ACA, absorbed the changes and how have companies been affected? Bills that raise the minimum wage and expand liability for businesses who employ third-party contractors have made their way through the Legislature this year. Can businesses keep up? Experts will provide updates and advice.


Every year our Business Forecast Conference is an opportunity for businesses, academics, and public officials to come together to discuss important the important issues facing businesses and our region. This year will be invaluable to attendees as we discuss the proper response to what looks like a good period ahead for California.


Visit to see a full schedule and descriptions of all eight panels and to register for the event.