By: Greg Krikorian
January 17, 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the earthquake, and a commemoration hosted by The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA) featuring exhibits, workshops, sold out reception and reflections of elected officials and leaders who were at the forefront of disaster recovery took place at California State University, Northridge. Over 500 guests attended “The Valley of the Stars: Reaching New Heights,” including more than 30 Federal, State and local Officials, including California Governor Pete Wilson Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan and many other dignitaries.
The sold out luncheon recognized and awarded the “Magnificent 7,” individuals & businesses critical to Southern California’s recovery after the earthquake and who helped rebuild the San Fernando Valley. TVEA’s Chair Martha Diaz Aszkenazy introduced Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss Los Angeles’ new partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and thanked TVEA for its extraordinary leadership in rebuilding Valley businesses and communities. Mayor Garcetti spoke about how the cities priorities to earthquake preparedness are strengthening existing buildings, the region’s communications infrastructure and water infrastructure.
“While reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake I was moved about how many diverse community leaders came together to help rebuild the Valley.
The Valley Economic Alliance was the catalyst to bring together businesses, government institutions and organizations to start the rebuilding process,” said Greg Krikorian, President and CEO, the Valley Economic Alliance.
A panel made of government luminaries discussed lessons learned and the road still to be traveled. Moderated by TVEA Chair Emeritus, David Fleming, Former Governor Pete Wilson recalled that suspending regulations and statutes got roads rebuilt in record time. Former City of Los Angeles Councilmember Hal Bernson said many concrete buildings in California still need to be upgraded. LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky warned, “Let’s not fool ourselves: we are not prepared for a 4:31 PM earthquake.” Supervisor Michael Antonovich concluded by remembering a helicopter tour of the devastated valley, and praised the suspension of “business as usual” so contractors could work quickly to rebuild roads and infrastructure. “Time is money: businesses would have starved and the economy would have suffered even more,” he added.
“The Magnificent 7” awardees were President Bill Clinton, former Governor of California Pete Wilson, former Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan, former Councilman, Hal Bernson, former LAFD Assistant Chief Frank Borden, and former Director of the California Governor’s office of Emergency Services Richard Andrews, retired L.A. Public Safety Field Deputy Jim Dellinger and Catherine Dellinger, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Business awardees were 3M Northridge, General Growth Properties, CSUN, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Southern California Gas Company, LA Daily News, and Galpin Motors.
Regional experts presented five free workshops on preparing a business to survive disaster. Workshops topics included how a business should be prepared before and after a disaster hits by the Small Business Development Center; Immediate steps employees and businesses should take during natural disasters by the Los Angeles Fire Department; Business technology contingencies, software and tools businesses can use to protect themselves by Microsoft’s Cal Net Technology; Tips for businesses on how to prepare for utility service interruptions by the Los Angeles Department of Water and power; and disaster financial plans for business by the Valley Economic Development Center.
Exhibitors including the American Red Cross, The Los Angeles Fire Department, the Small Business Development Center, Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison, Costco, Legal Shield, Microsoft, SOS Survival Products, and many more stressed earthquake and disaster preparedness for businesses, including data backup and recovery, financial plans, sheltering, and communications.
“When community leaders come together and make a commitment to make change, they send a reverberating message that anything is possible in the Valley and the Golden State. Since the Northridge earthquake, the Valley Economic Alliance continues to help San Fernando Valley businesses grow,” added Greg Krikorian, President and CEO, The Valley Economic Alliance.