January 2018 Highlights
Board of Directors January Meeting Recap

The Valley Economic Alliance hosted a Board of Director's meeting on January 25th at Valley Presbyterian Hospital's Health Education Center. 
Larry Green, Senior Vice President of Westfield Group presented on Westfield Promenade 2035; a remodel of Westfield Promenade in Canoga Park. Westfield Promenade 2035 will be a live, work and play community and feature retail, office and residential space, a hotel, open park space, parking structure, and an entertainment/sports center. The initial phase is to complete in 2021. 

Visit for more information. 

Pictured is Kenn Phillips, President & CEO and Randy Witt, Chairman of The Valley Economic Alliance with Larry Green. (center)
"Hero Hired" Career and Resource Fair
Thursday, February 15, 2018
The 11th Annual "Hero Hired" Veteran Career and Resource Fair is next week!

More than 500 veterans will participate in the job fair, at Los Angeles Valley College's (LAVC) Monarch Hall. The job fair gives veteran job seekers access to 60 employers and resource companies at 9:00am. Employers will be taking resumes, interviewing candidates and hiring at the event. The fair will then be opened to the general public from 10:00am to 2:00pm. 

Are you hiring? Visit to register as an employer or sponsor.  
The opening ceremony at 9:30am includes remarks by LAVC President Dr. Erika Endrijonas,  color guard presentation by students from North Valley Military Institute's College Preparatory, and the unveiling of "First to Respond, Last to Leave since 1869" by patriotic artist David SchwARTZ.  
This year's painting honors the 149 year history of the Los Angeles Police Department . SchwARTZ is best known for his controversial use of American flags as canvas for his one of a kind American Icon series pieces, who creates exclusive paintings with unique themes for the job fair each year. This year's flag was given to SchwARTZ by the LAPD. 

Event sponsors include Wells Fargo, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Glendale Community College, Los Angeles Valley College, Concorde Career College, City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board, Maximus, Republic Services, Care More Health and San Fernando Valley Advisory Council. Media Sponsors include Daily News and San Fernando Sun. 
In the News
Valley Visionaries, Hands on Experience
By Charles Crumpley, San Fernando Valley Business Journal
Sure, the San Fernando Valley area has its share of challenges. But it also is in a great position to enjoy a prosperous future. That's the overall assessment of some of our area's most deeply connected and longstanding business leaders.

We asked three power players in the local economy to stop and take a few moments to ponder the current economic status as well as the prospects of our region. And our panel - we call them "Valley Visionaries" - came up with some insightful observations and prescriptions.

The overall assessment can be summed up by the view of Tamara Gurney, founder of Mission Valley Bank and its longtime chief executive. The Valley area "should remain an economic powerhouse. But we need to transform to keep up with the changes that technology and other advances are bringing every day," she said.

"The area is fast becoming a manufacturing-less center, and more of a tech capital often referred to as Silicon Valley South. This brings endless possibilities if we have the vision and conviction to make them happen."

And when it comes to a vision of the future, Kenn Phillips, the chief executive of The Valley Economic Alliance, sees a very different Valley area decades from now - years after driverless cars become commonplace.

"By 2050, the Valley will build roads that can charge electric vehicles as they drive. As the population of the Valley doubles by 2050, our 4 million residents will live in mega-skyscrapers, and never-seen-before buildings will be the new mini cities," Phillips said. "This would result in shorter trips and require less fuel, hence its appeal. I'm looking forward to Amazon's new massive autonomous drones transporting me to different floors because elevators will be difficult in buildings this tall."
But our visionaries absolutely agree on this: achieving our economic potential in such a future will require that education be a topmost concern.
"Our education system is one of the most important economic engines in the Valley," said Rickey Gelb, founder and chief of the Gelb Group, a real estate development and property management firm focused in the San Fernando Valley. "This will continue to be the case as long as we don't kill it by maintaining the status quo. We need to fix it sooner than later if it is going to survive in the years to come."

He frets that higher education is too expensive for many would-be students. As a result, "less than 50 percent of the qualified population has a legitimate chance to fully take advantage of its offerings." And graduates carry sometimes crushing debt that takes years to pay off, effectively delaying their contributions to our economic vibrancy.

And Gelb sighs at the notion that too many young adults cannot even get into a college or university.
"The administration has no system in place to make sure we have room for all the qualified applicants," Gelb said. He wishes education were run more like a business "with some type of incentive structure to administrators for keeping more classrooms filled with students."

Gelb continued: "The return to society by an educated population far exceeds the costs incurred to underwrite a subsidized state and locally supported higher education system. We should be accepting our own citizens and legal residents first and then bring in foreign students if space is available."

Past is prologue
In many ways, the economic future of the entire Valley area springs from its history.

Filmmaking was one of the first important industries here, and it remains so. Said Phillips: "Today, the San Fernando Valley is the center of motion picture and television production in America. Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal are all headquartered here. This multi-billion dollar economic engine supports countless allied companies and creative professionals who showcase their art from here."

Also, aerospace and defense companies were big in the past and while they may not be today what they used to be, they still employ thousands of people, Phillips noted, including skilled research and development engineers and designers.

Business Accelerator Program Graduation

The Valley Economic Alliance celebrated a graduation for three Business Accelerator Program members on December 20, 2017. 
Participating businesses were Roxie Fernandez of Greco's World, Adrian Harper of Cloud 77 and Melissa Ardon of Cuba Unplugged.  

Greco's World is an occupational therapy center for children with special needs. While in the Accelerator Program, Roxie opened a new location called Zensory, obtained a grant and hired 2 employees.

Cloud 77 offers technical consulting services and enterprise-level support to small and medium-sized businesses. Adrian right sized his business and refocused on the core of business. Adrian turned a monthly landmark into profit and grew his clientele base. 

Facing politics as an issue for tourism, Melissa made the difficult decision to put her destination travel business on hold. Ti ming was perfect as the United States government shut down the industry just after Melissa had planned to invest $10,000 in marketing. She attributes her success in the program on making the decision to shift her priorities before spending money on a new campaign. 

"I am proud to be affiliated with TVEA and the platform we have to making a difference," said Business Accelerator Program sponsor Armin Nikravan, Vice President and Private Banker with Union Bank.  

Armin's support, participation in monthly meetings, and commitment helped Accelerator participants see their businesses expand and level up.  When participants faced issues and problems, Armin was instrumental in looking at the issue and helping to identify options for managing the situation.

Visit for more information. 

Pictured from left: Kenn Phillips of The Valley Economic Alliance, Jeff Cohen of Business Accelorate Program, Roxie Fernandez of Greco's World, Adrian Harper of Cloud 77, Armin Nikravan of Union Bank and Jacqui Matsumoto of The Valley Economic Alliance. 
Farewell Ben!
Ben Brus served as a Regional Manager for The Valley Economic Alliance partner Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation for three and a half years.

Ben's office was stationed at the Economic Alliance where he assisted East San Fernando Valley businesses on programs such as Layoff Aversion.  

He appreciated working with Valley businesses and collaborating with The Alliance on programs and events such as the Annual "Hero Hired" Career and Resource Fair. 

Ben will be taking his knowledge "from the field" with him as he continues to assist businesses as a Leadership Coach for two small businesses in the San Gabriel Valley, where he resides. 

"I will miss my TVEA family and am excited for a new chapter in my career." said Ben.  
In the News
Waste Law Smells Fishy

By Helen Floersh, Staff Reporter, San Fernando Valley Business Journal

As a purveyor of fresh produce and vegetable-centric dishes, Follow Your Heart Cafe in Canoga Park has always had a high monthly bill for trash pickup. But after the city of Los Angeles implemented its franchised contract system for waste hauling in late 2016, the natural food eatery found itself paying more than twice as much to have its leftovers hauled away.

"When the city enacted the new law, the price (of trash pickup) skyrocketed," General Manager Chris Besancon told the Business Journal.

Now another government mandate could send the costs even higher. Statewide legislation effected in 2016 requires that businesses producing more than 4 cubic yards of "organic waste" - roughly enough food scraps or lawn clippings to spill over a large plastic barrel - per week must recycle it. The same stipulation will apply to "commercial solid waste," like cardboard and paper, beginning next year.

"Businesses do generate more than half of our waste," Lance Klug, information officer at California Dept. of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle, explained. "They have an opportunity and an obligation to be part of the solution."

It's not just restaurants that are feeling the weight of the guidelines. Apartment buildings with five or more units must also implement organics recycling; large businesses with cafeterias are impacted as well, The Valley Economic Alliance President and CEO Kenn Phillips noted.

"We're trying to figure out what the cost is going to be to take it out, and whether there will be a separate truck that comes to haul it away," Phillips said. Having another recycling bin to contend with could make already-tight parking lots even more troublesome for businesses, he added.
L.A. Impact

Details of the organics recycling programs have been left up to localities to decide, CalRecycle said, a matter that is likely to frustrate many businesses that fall under the jurisdiction of the city of Los Angeles.

The city's overhaul of the trash collection system, billed as "RecycLA," already has made it difficult for businesses to comply with laws that are currently in place on account of inconsistent service and soaring costs.

Prior to December 2016, when the L.A. City Council awarded $3.5 billion in contracts to seven companies for exclusive commercial trash collection services, the garbage bill at Follow Your Heart was $895. Now, it's closer to $2200.

"Before it was easier, because we could pick who we wanted (for trash collection)," said Besancon, the general manager. "But I understand where the city is coming from - they're trying to control what happens in the dumps."

As for service, Bobrick Washroom Equipment, a restroom accessory manufacturer in North Hollywood, has yet to receive its blue recycling bin from its trash hauling provider. All trash companies contracted with the city were required to supply business in their franchise zone with containers for recycling.

"Recycling requirements were discussed and a solution agreed upon to satisfy city requirements, however recycling bins were never delivered," a Bobrick facility manager, who the company requested remain anonymous, said in an email to the Business Journal. "We continue to participate in our own recycling outside of city-collected recycling."

Also, under the city's franchise system the new hauler has failed to establish a consistent pickup schedule, creating inefficiencies and safety concerns within Bobrick's operations, the facility manager added. All in all, the company is paying 50 percent more for poorer service.

"Service ... does not meet the criteria set forth in our new contract with the city," the facility manager said. "Bobrick has called in several missed pickups since switching over to our franchise provider."
The firm said it has not yet filed a complaint with the city. Others have been much more vocal about their disdain; the city has received more than 28,000 complaints in the year and a half since it rolled out RecycLA, according to the city Bureau of Sanitation. The department did not return a request for comment on how it plans to implement guidelines for solid commercial waste collection.

Businesses have other options for disposing of organic waste besides having it hauled off by the city. Those that produce large volumes of it may choose to sell it to farmers or another agriculture business that can put it to use as compost, or to compost it on-site themselves.

Derek Tabak, founder of Ecco-Technologies in Reseda, is trying to make it easier for businesses to do just that. His firm, which provides waste management and composting services for mid- to large-sized companies, has seen a three-fold increase in its client base since the organics recycling guidelines for more than 4 cubic yards of waste took effect in 2016.

"You can't send organics to a landfill, so either you're going to pay someone else to (recycle) it for an inordinately high price or you're going to do it yourself," Tabak said.

By his calculation, investing in a compost operation - which starts at around $5,000 through Ecco-Technologies - can reap thousands in savings by reducing the number of trash pickups, especially for businesses that are dealing with rate increases under the city's hauling franchise system. The company is currently in talks with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles County Unified School District to put composting equipment on the sites of prisons and schools, Tabak said.

Businesses that do not produce enough organic waste to offset the cost of a sophisticated compost operation can still find ways to get the trash off their lots without paying for pickups. Those that have a significant amount of raw, pesticide-free waste can donate it to programs such as Kindred Spirits Care Farms, which operates two functional farms on the sites of John Wooden High School in Reseda and Canoga Park High School in Canoga Park.

"Right now we're using a lot of horse manure and straw (for our compost), and would like to have more vegetables," Kindred Spirits founder Karen Snooks said. The only catch is that the produce has to be organic, oil- and meat-free.

Follow Your Heart has been donating to Kindred Spirits for the last couple of years, bagging sweet potato, carrot and other scraps to send to the farm. Yet the kitchen produces much more waste than it can donate, Bescanon said. To further reduce its trash bills, it is implementing a strategy from which all businesses can benefit: training employees on how to properly dispose of every item.

"Right now we're training people properly of what goes in which bin, so that we're recycling everything that gets recycled," Bescanon explained. "We think we'll be able to reduce the number of trash pickups."

Photo 1: Tour of Kindred Spirits care Farms features explanation of compost options. 
Photo 2: Derek Tabak of Ecco-Technologies, left, visits John Wooden High School. 
Photo 3: Karen Snooks of Kindred Spirits at John Wooden High School's permaculture garden 
Propel L.A. Advisory Council

Kenn Phillips joins the Propel L.A. Advisory Council!

The Advisory Council is a group of experts and leaders from throughout the Los Angeles region who have agreed to advise our staff efforts to implement the 2016-2020 Countywide Strategic Plan for Economic Development. The strategic plan is a collaborative effort to define priorities that will lead to creation of well-paying jobs, and help our key industries and workforce navigate the challenging transition to an Information Age economy.

7 goals addressing root causes of poverty, stagnant wage growth, and inadequate pathways to an improved quality of life have been identified. Through the collaboration of over 500 partners in 26 focus groups, Propel L.A. seeks to connect and communicate the many voices of LA County's 10 million residents, toward one purpose of advancing opportunity and prosperity for all. 

They are: 
  1. Invest in our people to provide greater opportunity
  2. Strengthen our leading export-oriented industry clusters
  3. Accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship
  4. Be more business-friendly
  5. Remove barriers to critical infrastructure development, financing and delivery
  6. Increase global connectedness
  7. Build more livable communities
This plan serves as the region's roadmap to increase shared prosperity and increase standards of living for our diverse residents from all regions of L.A. County, in the face of unprecedented changes occurring in our economy.  The Strategic Plan doesn't treat the symptoms of economic distress. 

Instead, the many participants in the Strategic Plan have selected priorities to address the root causes of poverty, tepid wage growth, insufficient pathways to middle class.   The resulting goals and strategies will foster higher standards of living for our region.

Visit for more information. 
Out and About

Kenn Phillips with Vivian Ekchian, Acting Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at LAUSD Board District 3  Scott M. Schmerelson's Open House on January 25th. 
Kenn Phillips and Jacqui Matsumoto of The Valley Economic Alliance meeting with investors Diana Sanchez and Flora Margheritis of Van Nuys Airport on January 25th.
Kenn Phillips and Jacqui Matsumoto of The Valley Economic Alliance with Jeff Brain, a Founder of The Alliance and President and CEO of Ciralight Global Inc. 
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power hosted an informational seminar on January 18th at La Kretz Innovation Campus with presentations by Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department, CA Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development and Small Business Administration. 
Aviation Career Day
Friday, April 27, 2018

Van Nuys Airport (VNY) is hosting Aviation Career Day on Friday, April 27th from 9:00am-3:00pm. Each year, approximately 1,400 high school students come to the airport to learn from experts in the aviation and aerospace industries.  The event features presentations, demonstrations and exhibits, and airport tours which run every 30 minutes. 

Aviation Careers Education Academy; a free, week-long motivational summer program designed to introduce middle and high school students to the broad spectrum of career opportunities within the aviation/aeronautical industry and educate students about airport operations at both VNY and Los Angeles International Airport The program is now accepting applications. 
"For young people interested in aviation, there is nothing more exciting than spending a week of their summer vacation learning directly from experienced individuals in the field, including pilots, veterans, mechanics, engineers and aviation professionals," said Diana Sanchez, VNY public and community relations director. "This unique program offers students a first-hand look at aviation careers and provides an opportunity to meet and network with professionals to gain insider tips on entering the industry."
Summer 2018 academy dates:
July 9 - July 13 -- Middle school (grades 7-9)
July 23 - July 27 -- High school (grades 10-12)

Interested students are encouraged to apply to the summer academy by 
contacting the VNY Public and Community Relations office at (818) 442-6526.

Businesses interested in participating at Aviation Career Day can sign up by contacting  Kori Oyler or Sandra Peterson at Students interested in learning about aviation careers at Aviation Career Day should see their career counselor to sign up.
The Valley Economic Alliance | 818-379-7000 | |
Your Success Is Our Business! TM

The mission of The Valley Economic Alliance is to elevate the economic vitality of our five-city region by assisting  the San Fernando Valley in business, education, & government. 
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View on Instagram  View our videos on YouTube