Outlook Conference is next week

Economic updates, interactive survey to headline EOC

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Outlook Conference is next weekState Sen. Shannon Grove (partly offscreen) captures a photo of Kern County Judge Chad Louie, Supervisor Mick Gleason, Denny Kline, Jim Suver and Dave Ostash during last year’s IWV Economic Outlook Conference — a perennial opportunity to meet with local leaders — Photo by Laura Austin

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An update on regional, state and federal economic trends, an audience-participation presentation and endless networking opportunities are among the offerings of this year’s Economic Outlook Conference, which will focus on growth and stability for the future.

Thw Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce partners with elected officials, employers and other community leaders to give stakeholders insight into the obstacles and endeavors shaping the local economy. The half-day event will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, in conjunction with a Business Expo – which allows local vendors a chance to highlight their products and services to some 250 other attendees.

Doors of the Kerr McGee Center open at 7 a.m. for breakfast and the expo, with the program beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m.

The chamber has engaged Dr. Mark Schneipp, director of the California Economic Forecast, to zero in on regional economic trends of the Indian Wells Valley and surrounding region. His presentation is also expected to include information on how those local trends mesh with those on the state and national levels.

Another highlight of this year’s conference is a more locally focused presentation from the Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Scott O’Neil will brief listeners on the agency’s efforts to support economic endeavors, including a follow-up to last year’s call for more housing.

“We also think it’s important to find out more from the attendees,” said O’Neil. We have some questions that will help promote an understanding of some of the constraints and opportunities in our community, but we also want to know more about the priorities and challenges to the people who are working toward similar goals.”

Anyone with a smart phone will have an opportunity to participate in the presentation, he said.

Chamber Boardmember and Bernie’s Landscaping Owner Bernie Mondragon, also the chair of this year’s EOC committee, said that the outlook conference is unique gathering of some of the most invested residents, leaders and public servants in our community.

Mondragon joined the chamber to get a better understanding of the community, and got involved at the board and EOC level. “My involvement with the chamber has been a great experience, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people.”

He added that he is just one of a host of up-and-comers who have joined the board in recent years. Others include Chris Hill and Michelle Lemke — graduates of last year’s inaugural Leadership Ridgecrest class.

Keith Bennett, another member of that cohort, will be the emcee this year. Members of this year’s class will participate in the program, presenting the community service projects they are working on.

Mondragon is also one of the table sponsors for high schoolers — from Mesquite and Burroughs High School, a well as Immanuel Christian School — who are invited to the event.

“I think it gives our teenagers an opportunity to see what goes on in our city and hopefully a better idea about the value of this area,” he said. “After these kids go off to college, maybe that will help them consider returning here for some of the opportunities we have on base, at the hospital and in the school district, just to name a few.”

The agenda also includes speakers from China Lake, the housing market, local government, health care and more.

Ticket prices are $45 for the public, with a discounted rate of $40 for chamber members. Table reservations for eight are $335, with a discounted price of $296 for members.

For more information call the chamber at 760-375-8331.

Story First Published: 2019-02-22