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Outlook Conference Offers Powerhouse Speaker Lineup

Keynote: Wounded warrior, celebrity J.R. Martinez

J.R. Martinez, the American Army soldier whose inspirational battle to overcome severe wounds he suffered in Iraq to become an iconic national figure, will be the keynote speaker at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade’s 2013 AV Business Outlook Conference, Friday, Feb. 22 at the AV Fairgrounds.

Martinez, who became a household word in 2011 when he and celebrity partner Karina Smirnoff won ABC’s 13th season “Dancing With the Stars” competition, is a highly sought-after motivational speaker, travelling the country to spread his message of resilience and optimism. He devotes himself to showing others the true value in making the most of every situation.

J.R. began his 2012 schedule as Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, two months after his picture appeared on the cover of People Magazine’s  “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. The magazine also named him as one of its “25 Most Intriguing People of the Year.”

Jose Rene Martinez was born June 14, 1983 in Shreveport, LA to Maria Zavala. He has two sisters, Consuelo and Anabel, who were raised in El Salvador with his mothers family. Anabel died as a toddler before he ever meet her. At nine years old J.R. moved with his mother to Hope, AR, where he lived until he was 17. He moved to Dalton, GA, a place he proudly calls his hometown. During his senior year he played strong safety for the Dalton High School Catamounts when they went to Georgias State Championship.  Playing professional football was his dream until he suffered an injury his senior year.

After high school he joined the Army. J.R. was proud to serve, as a way to give something back to a country that had already given so much to him and his family. In September, 2002, J.R. underwent Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Benning, GA.

Reporting to Fort Campbell, KY in January of 2003, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Two months later he deployed to Iraq, and on April 5, less than a month into his deployment, he was driving a Humvee in Karbala, when the left front tire hit a hidden improvised explosive device.  Three other soldiers with J.R. were thrown clear of the burning vehicle, but J.R. was trapped inside, suffering smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body.

J.R. was evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany, for immediate care, and later transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, where he spent 34 months, undergoing 33 surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.

J.R. makes his home in Studio City.



Costco CEO Jelinek to Deliver Homecoming Address

Craig Jelinek, president and chief executive officer of Costco Wholesale, will be among the featured speakers at the 41st Annual Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference.
Jelinek, a former Antelope Valley resident who joined Costco in 1984 as the manager of its sixth location, has long been cited as a key, behind-the-scenes player in the rise of one of the world’s most successful retailers. He assumed the role of CEO from company co-founder, Jim Sinegal in January 2012.

Scott Cummings, chairman of the Antelope Valley Board of Trades 2013 Business Outlook Conference, said, “We are delighted that Mr. Jelinek so graciously and generously accepted our invitation to speak.”

With its “members-only” policy and no frills warehouse stores, Costco has turned its high-volume, low-cost business model into impressive numbers. Today, Jelinek oversees an international company with more than 600 membership warehouse locations in eight countries employing approximately 150,000 workers and serving more than 50 million member customers. The company rang up in excess of  $88 billion in sales last year.

In 2012, Costco Wholesale ranked 24th on the Fortune 500 list of the world’s largest companies and Jelinek was named the 10th most powerful person in the food business according to industry publication, Supermarket News. As a sign of Costco influence, Jelinek recently joined top business leaders from Apple, JP Morgan Chase and Boeing in advising President Obama on economic issues.

Jelinek was graduated from Antelope Valley High School in 1970 and from San Diego State University in 1975. He held management positions with retailers Fed-Mart and Gemco before joining Costco in its second year of operation. Jelinik went on to hold numerous senior management positions in warehouse operations and merchandising, including the position of Executive Vice President and COO of Merchandising as well as President and COO before being named President and CEO of Costco in 2012.

Economics Researcher Dr. Bill Watkins to Deliver 2013 Forecast

Dr. Bill Watkins, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University, is expected to deliver a spot-on, unflinching forecast for the Greater Antelope Valley region as this year’s  featured Outlook Conference economist.

Watkins, who is known to be a plain-spoken, no-holds-barred economist who studies the data and tells it like it is, has built a solid reputation over more than 15 years.

Watkins said in a biographical profile that he is blessed with the ability to “provide the simple-to-grasp explanations that are based on rigorous analysis of complex things. Sometimes it seems that we within the academy forget that our job is to make things easier to understand, not more difficult.”

Watkins joined California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks in June 2009 as executive director of the new Center for Economic Research and Forecasting and as an associate professor of economics. He is also helping to launch CLU’s new Master of Science in Economics program, which focuses on forecasting and applied research.

Prior to coming to CLU, Watkins served as the executive director of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Economic Forecast Project. In his nine-year tenure, he expanded the project’s publications and geographic scope and enhanced its reputation. Previously, he served as an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.

Watkins has been widely published in academic journals, news media and new media and is quoted regularly by news organizations throughout the world.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration-finance from California State University, Northridge, and both master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from UCSB.

The Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference has a track record of attracting leading economists who clearly address not only national and state economic projections, but also bring the forecasts to pinpoint interests of the Antelope Valley.

Simulation Plus Technology Pioneer Woltosz to Talk About Future

The co-founder and chief executive of a company recognized as the world leader in pioneering   computer simulation technologies for pharmaceutical and medical research and development will speak at the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference, traveling all the way from … Lancaster.

Walter S. Woltosz, whose Lancaster-based Simulations Plus, Inc. and subsidiary Words + came to national attention with groundbreaking  development of augmentative communication systems for persons with severe disabilities, including internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, author of “A Brief History of Time.”

But even that achievement is surpassed by the company’s success in developing absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity modeling and simulation software for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology, industrial chemicals, cosmetics, food, and herbicide industries.  In vastly oversimplified terms, software and related services from Simulations Plus equip research scientists with predictive tools to far more quickly and accurately develop safe and effective drugs and other chemical compounds.

Founded in 1996, Simulations Plus, Inc. now operates in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Traded on NASDAQ under SLP, the company has an enviable financial record. In a recent four-year period, Simulations Plus was reported in financial media to have averaged pre-tax return-on-invested-capital of 24% , one point higher than Apple Computer.

The professional career of Walter S. Woltosz, who holds BA and MS degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University and a Master of Administrative Science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, testifies to the potential of an engineering mind to change the world for the better.

Products emerging from the fertile minds at Simulations Plus, Inc. also sow the seeds for future generations of engineers and scientists.

Walt Woltosz began his professional career in U.S. Air Force blue, as an Air Launch Missile Systems Analyst for the Strategic Air Command. He worked in the aerospace industry for 13 years, where he pioneered and managed development of software for the simulation and design optimization of a range of solid propellant rocket motors and missile systems, including the Space Shuttle, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-air Missile (AMRAAM), MidgetMan ballistic missile, and Pegasus air-launched satellite booster.

Rio Tinto Boron Executive Dean Gehring

Dean Gehring, vice president and general manager of Rio Tinto Minerals – Boron Operations, will be among regional business leaders addressing the 41stAnnual Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference.

Rio Tinto Minerals’ open pit mine in Boron – one of the richest borate deposits on the planet – is at the heart of the company’s global mining and refining operations, supplying nearly half of world demand for refined borates, minerals essential to life and modern living. The 1.75 miles wide, 2 miles long and up to 755 feet deep open pit mine is a source for more than 80 different minerals , including the four boron based minerals in greatest demand by industry: tincal, kernite, ulexite and colemanite.

Rio Tinto Minerals’ Boron operations represent an enormous economic engine for the region. In the 2012 Economic Roundtable Report by the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance, Rio Tinto was ranked among the region’s top 10 non-government, non-defense employers.

The roots of the Boron Operations trace back to California’s Death Valley, where borate deposits were discovered in 1872. The twenty mule teams used to haul ore out of the remote desert live on as a symbol of the company’s commitment to innovation.

The current open pit mine began as an underground mine in 1927, and Boron Operations was converted to a surface mine in the late 1950s. At this time extensive facilities for refining ore were built. In 1980, Borax built its boric acid plant, securing the company’s position as the world’s leading boric acid supplier.

Vice President and General Manager Gehring joined Rio Tinto Minerals in 2003 as Manager of Technical Services at its Kennecott Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. During the next four years he held positions as Director of Engineering Services and General Manager of Resource Development. In 2007 he was transferred to Vancouver, British Columbia to serve as General Manager of Resource Development for Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi joint venture in Mongolia. This project was recognized as the richest undeveloped copper and gold resource in the world.

In November 2009 Dean was transferred to Boron, where he currently served as General Manager of Operations for Rio Tinto’s Boron Operations. He was promoted in May 2012 to Vice President, Rio Tinto Minerals Operations and General Manager at Boron.

Dean Gehring knew he was interested in mining when he enrolled in college. He attended the University of Idaho where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering in 1990 before going on to complete a Master of Science degree in project management from the University of Aberdeen. Since then his  professional career has covered the globe, with assignments in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Canada and Indonesia.

Brig. Gen. Bunch to Update Edwards AFFTC Missions

Brig. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, will present an update about the development and testing of the base’s current aircraft programs at the 2013 Business Outlook Conference.

As  commander of the center, Bunch directs the unmanned and manned aircraft systems and research and experimental aerospace vehicle programs undergoing flight testing and evaluation as well as the Air Force Test Pilot School.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1984, Bunch completed undergraduate pilot training at Columbus AFB, Miss., and B-52 Combat Crew Training School at Castle AFB in California. Next, he served in operational assignments as an instructor, evaluator and aircraft commander for B-52s.

Edwards is quite familiar to the general, who has spent nine years in various assignments at the base. In 1992 he graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards; he conducted developmental testing in the B-2 and B-52, and served as an instructor in each aircraft there until 1995.

In 2000 he was assigned as commander of the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards for two years, and between 2006 and 2008 he commanded the 412th Test Wing.

Before becoming commander of the Air Force Center at Edwards in June 2012, he was the commander of the Air Force Security Assistance Center, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.

During his long career Bunch earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering at California State University Fresno and a Master of Science degree in national security strategy at the National War College, Ft. Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

Film Liaison Pauline East to Report on Hollywood Impact

Pauline East, whose personal economic development productivity is measured in millions of dollars a year, will deliver good news about film industry impact at the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference.

As the Antelope Valley’s one-woman, full service film and video link to Hollywood since 1998, East works to keep the cameras rolling and the shutters clicking at location shoots throughout the Antelope Valley portion of North Los Angeles County.

Looking back on the progression of her work, East separates the 15 years into three five-year components: The first five establishing a digital library to help producers find and secure film locations; the second five years streamlining the once cumbersome and bureaucratic permitting process for location shoots, and the past five years reaping the benefits of all that groundwork. “It’s finally all come together,” she says.

East began her mission as Film Liaison for the City of Lancaster and director of the Antelope Valley Film Office, a full service film office in North Los Angeles County offering a range of services to the film production industry. She is one of 45 Film Commissioners designated by the State of California. In late 2005, East concluded a two-year term on the Board of Directors for FilmL.A., Inc. to establish a North Los Angeles County satellite office for FilmLA, partnering with the City of Lancaster.

In mid 2008, East contracted with the City of Palmdale to streamline and establish a regional partnership for full coordination of filming activities in all of North Los Angeles County. This regional partnership allows production companies a true one-stop shop for permitting and production coordination. She says, “We’re at one piece of paper” for permits.

The Antelope Valley Film Office facilitates more than 300 film projects a year, on average, typically generating annual economic impact in excess of $10 million dollars to the North Los Angeles County region.

Film location work attracted to the Antelope Valley includes television programs, motion pictures and both still and video commercials. Currently, the new network TV series “Vegas” uses Antelope Valley locations. East quips, “I’m the closest desert to Hollywood.”

East says her office is one of the busiest in the state, along with Santa Clarita.

Pauline serves as Co-Chair for the California On Location Awards, an annual Hollywood event honoring location professionals and production companies. And she is a member of Film Liaisons in California, Statewide (FLICS.)

GAVEA Economic Roundtable Report

Featured at Business Outlook Conferences since 2000 has been the distribution of the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance Economic Roundtable Report Book, and an overview of highlights in the fact-packed volume about the region.

Presenting the Roundtable Report this year will be GAVEA Chairman Dr. Jackie Fisher, president of Antelope Valley College.

Passantino to Offer How-to on Freedom to Succeed

George Passantino, managing partner of Lancaster-based Passantino Anderson Communications, will offer Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference-goers advice on what it takes to overcome economic obstacles and succeed in business during tough times.

With more than 18 years of experience in public relations, branding and marketing, Passantino has developed what he calls a “Business Survival Kit to Branding and Reputation” for advising clients on what it takes to overcome economic obstacles and instill within their target audiences a compelling image of their organization.

Passantino applies his passion for branding and reputation management to a diverse portfolio of clients including global retailers, international energy companies, homebuilders, school districts and small and family-owned businesses, as well as national trade associations and nonprofit organizations.  Knowing that all organizations have an inherent brand that they may shape, Passantino says he helps clients exercise their “Freedom to Succeed.”

Prior to opening Passantino Andersen Communications, George served as Senior Fellow in Government Reform at the Reason Foundation, a national think tank.  In 2004, George served as a full-time director of the California Performance Review initiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. George also previously served as a legislative consultant in the California State Legislature. To his credit is a wide range of high-profile legislative accomplishments, including the 1996 passage of California’s version of Megan’s Law, which has helped thousands of parents protect their children from dangerous sex offenders.

George has appeared on television, radio, and in newspapers across the nation.  He has appeared on FOX News Network, CNBC, National Public Radio, and in the pages of the Wall Street JournalLos Angeles TimesInvestors Business DailySan Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee.

Passantino maintains what he characterizes as a physically exhausting lifestyle that includes snow skiing, hiking, athletic challenges and various other irrational exploits.  Having completed a solo hike across the Sierras, two full marathons, two ten-plus mile Mud Runs, one half marathon and other distance challenges, George has found an effective outlet for his passion for personal achievement and the desire to overcome self-imposed limits. He is training for a 193-mile relay race across Southern California. He also coaches youth soccer teams in the Antelope Valley reflecting his belief in individual effort, teamwork and competition. He and his wife Michelle live in the Antelope Valley and have two children that they remain inspired by every day.

NASA Dryden Director McBride to Deliver Update

David D. McBride, director of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, will deliver an update on the work ahead in 2013 at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade Business Outlook Conference.

McBride oversees all aspects of center management, strategy and operations at NASA Dryden, one of the 10 field centers of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

McBride was appointed director of NASA Dryden on Jan. 4, 2010, after having served as acting director since April 2009 upon the retirement of former center director Kevin L. Petersen. He previously served as Dryden’s deputy director since June 2008, first in an acting capacity and subsequently receiving the official appointment in January 2009.

McBride’s prior management assignments at NASA Dryden include serving as Associate Director for Programs, overseeing the complete portfolio of Dryden projects supporting Exploration, Science, and Aeronautics.

He also was program manager for NASA’s Flight Research Program at NASA Dryden. The Flight Research Program and Flight and Systems Demonstrations Project conducted flight research and discovery that expanded aerospace knowledge and capabilities – activities included the record-breaking flight of the solar-powered Helios aircraft to over 96,000 feet, the Active Aeroelastic Wing flight research project and the revolutionary Intelligent Flight Control System, demonstrating adaptive neural network flight control systems.

McBride’s prior technical assignments include responsibilities as chief engineer for the X-33 Extended Test Range, and lead flight systems engineer for the X-31 and X-29 flight research programs and Dryden’s F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft.

During a hiatus from NASA, McBride served as executive vice president and chief information officer of McBride and Associates, Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., from 1993 through 1998.

McBride began his career at Dryden as a cooperative education student in 1982, specializing in the area of digital flight control systems analysis. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1985 and an executive Masters of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico in 1998.

Palmdale’s Vision Engineering to Illuminate Outlook Conference on Lighting Technology

Vision Engineering, the City of Palmdale’s featured company on  the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference program, is a fast-growing pioneer in applying new technology to the job of shedding light on just about everything.

Home-grown, family-owned Vision Engineering may have a low profile, but the affordable, high efficiency lighting components emerging from its’ patented  Coining technology are illuminating everything from freeway exit signs and billboards, to supermarket refrigerators, to business offices and factory floors. The list of lighting applications seems endless, including products for lighting homes, airliner interiors and entertainment industry applications.

Started in Palmdale as a metal stamping company in 1997, Vision Engineering hit the fast lane in 2010 when new contracts from lighting Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) prompted the company to grow from 10,000 square feet to 734,000 square feet in under a year.

Company Vice President, Joseph Avila, who will speak on behalf of the company at the Friday, Feb. 22 Business Outlook Conference at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, says Vision Engineering produced 300,000 units in 2010-11, and continues to grow. Vision currently has a 60-person payroll.

Vision Engineering founder and CEO Henry Avila sums-up the company’s mission on the website, saying: The endeavor is to bring the most uniform lighting solutions to market at costs that make rapid adoption possible. “We’re making is easier and more affordable for LED solution developers to get the light where they want it and need it, without trying to staff with optical engineers and designers”

Coining, or cold forming, is a process in the forging industry where 3 dimensional shapes can be formed to exacting tolerances. Vision Engineering has developed this technology and applied it to lighting. Using their technology, multiple geometric surfaces can be created to control the distribution of the light resulting in extremely uniform solutions.

Technology aside, a substantial part of the company’s meteoric growth stems from the individual skill sets offered by members of the family management team. As Joseph Avila points out, dad Henry provides the structural design expertise, Joseph delivers on the electrical engineering side, and brother Matthew, company president, is the tooling expert. Sister Lupe works on the administrative side. Joseph Avila says, “We’re a very small team, but very efficient.”

City of Lancaster to Highlight Education & SOAR

 Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Paris and City Council Member Sandra Johnson will put the spotlight on education and the innovative SOAR High School which allows high school students to concurrently complete high school diploma studies while gaining college credits at the school site on Antelope Valley College.


When the Business Outlook Conference Committee sat down to decide who might emcee the 2013 event, the short list was topped by Steven Derryberry, the youthful, energetic Lancaster attorney who delivered an upbeat, optimistic and gently humorous approach in his first appearance as emcee at the 2012 event.

“You could honestly say Steve Derryberry is being brought back by popular demand,” said Antelope Valley Board of Trade President Drew Mercy. “Steve Derryberry is the latest in a long line of skillful and talented Outlook Conference emcees, and we’re delighted he agreed to continue that tradition.”

Derryberry, now completing his first stint as a director on the Board of Trade, was chosen by the conference planning committee whose members were greatly impressed by his work at the 2012 Outlook Conference.

A partner in a local law firm, Kestler | Derryberry LLP, Derryberry said that he is honored to again be chosen as the master of ceremonies for the annual economic event. “I want to ensure that the next Business Outlook Conference is something the attendees will speak about for a full year. Our local economy is ready for a change and this forum is a great place to showcase how we can make it happen. Besides that, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep everyone interested.”

Derryberry moved with his family to the Antelope Valley in 1989, where he attended Quartz Hill Elementary School and Joe Walker Middle School and graduated from Quartz Hill High School. He earned a bachelor of science in business administration from California Polytechnic University of San Luis Obispo. While a student at Southwestern University School of Law, he was a member of the competition Trial Advocacy Honors Program before graduating in May of 2006. He was admitted to the California State Bar along with the United States District Court, Southern District of California in December of 2006.

As a partner of Kestler | Derryberry LLP since October of 2008 Steven focuses his practice in the fields of business law, real estate law, employment law, probate and trust law. “As the managing partner I strive to achieve an equal balance in the firm to ensure we can help all those who need our services. I have one business partner and seven support staff,” he said.

His office is located at 723 West Lancaster Boulevard in Lancaster.

Derryberry’s involvement in community service includes Lancaster Performing Arts Center Foundation, Lancaster Neighborhood Vitalization Commission, Antelope Valley Jaycees and the Antelope Valley Board of Trade.

The ECONOMIC FORECAST is being generously sponsored by our good friends at : KESTLER/DERRYBERRY, a law firm in Lancaster that practices in the fields of business law, real estate law, employment law, probate and trust law.

You can register by filling this out : Registration Form

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