Conference examines where we’ve been, where we’re going

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

“This is the one time of year when we get together all the stakeholders in our community — the city, the Navy, the schools, the college, the county, the realtors — in one room and we talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce CEO Nathan Ahle, who is gearing up for next week’s annual Economic Outlook Conference.

“There isn’t really another event like this in our town. We want this to be a conference that leaves people talking about the message — something that leads to action.”

Each year the chamber gathers feedback from attendees to learn what they’d like to hear about, and then weaves that into economic trends on the state and national scenes to establish a slate of speakers that addresses the most relevant concerns. With that in mind, this year’s conference theme is “Entrepreneurship: The Way Forward.”

In that vein, the keynote speaker is renowned entrepreneur and internationally recognized motivational speaker Debbie Allen.

“I think people are going to love Debbie,” said Ahle. “One of the things that leaped out at me when we were talking to her is that she’s never applied for a job. Every single thing she’s done has been the result of her own endeavors. That’s really pretty rare.”

But Ridgecrest has to look no further than its own backyard for entrepreneurs, and speaking on behalf of the newly formed Ridgecrest Entrepreneurs Club, Dr. Russell Rudin will address “How the Entrepreneur Can Leverage Technology.”

“For decades we have talked about how we need to diversify our economy,” said Ahle. “Being a defense community is great, but to get us to the next level we are going to have to help the entrepreneurs step up.”

Among the local efforts to diversify is the collaboration between the China Lake Alliance and the Inyokern Airport Board of Directors to recruit additional unmanned systems testing at the local airport. Alliance Executive Director Eileen Shibley will give an update on those efforts.

Ahle will report on chamber developments, including recent growth in membership and the introduction of new smart-phone app.

In keeping with tradition, attendees will also hear from leaders from China Lake, the city, the county, local schools and real estate.

“I cannot stress enough the value of this event,” said Ahle. “Even though this is sponsored by the chamber, this is really for the community. You hear so many rumors — how many times have we heard in the last week about furloughs and defense cuts? This is an opportunity to hear directly from our leadership.”

Tickets are still available, for $50 per person, by calling the chamber at 760-375-8331.

Story First Published: 2013-02-13