Board of Trade in the Antelope Valley, California


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2015 Business Outlook Conference

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2015 Outlook Conference: Made in the Antelope Valley

Small Made in America Logo“Made in the Antelope Valley,” has been selected as the theme for the Antelope Valley Board of Trade’s 2015 Business Outlook Conference, shining a spotlight on the two-county region’s vast and diverse productivity – past, present and coming soon.

Business Outlook Conference Chairman Josh Mann said the theme for the Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 event at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, is so wide in scope as to require major changes and improvements in the day-long program.

“This will be an eye-opener and a jaw-dropper, even for local people who may not have been completely aware of just how many companies work in our region to produce products and services sold around the nation and around the globe.” He added, “But it’s our out-of-region visitors who will be truly astounded by what they see and hear at the conference.”

Mann said the 2015 Outlook Conference is building on the momentum of the Board of Trade’s enormously successful 2014 event at Mojave Air & Space Port. The conference sold-out well in advance and was widely hailed as the best in years, living up to its theme “Breaking Boundaries.”

Board of Trade President and 2014 Outlook Conference chairman Al Hoffman said the range of entrepreneurial, wealth-producing enterprises to be showcased at the 2015 event will help to drive home the bottom line message: “Companies that come here tend to grow and thrive and stay here. The Northern Los Angeles County and Southeastern Kern County region offers all of the ingredients for long-term growth and financial success, with far less stress.”

Among changes planned for the 2015 Business Outlook Conference will be a later starting time for the program, increased space for exhibitors, expanded networking opportunities and shorter program segments to present more information on more topics.

Next up for the Board of Trade Business Outlook Conference Committee is selection of speakers and program formatting improvements for the 48th annual event.

Cheers! It’s Ratzenberger For Biz Outlook Keynoter

John RatzenbergerActor John Ratzenberger, who rose to fame as postal carrier Cliff Clavin on the long-running television comedy series “Cheers,” will be one of two keynote speakers to address the 43rd annual Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA.

But Ratzenberger’s selection by the Antelope Valley Board of Trade to address the daylong regional economic development event has more to do with Ratzenberger’s active role in promoting American industry and jobs than with TV one-liners.

Josh Mann, chair of the trade board’s Outlook Conference Committee, said it was the actor’s work as host of the Travel Channel documentary series “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America” that spurred the speaking invitation for the 2015 event, themed: “Made in the Antelope Valley.” The series debuted in 2004 and ran for five seasons totaling 97 episodes, including a 2005 program featuring high-tech security barrier manufacturer Delta Scientific in Palmdale.

He began every episode of the series with these words, “Hi, I’m John Ratzenberger. If you want to know America, you’ve got to meet the folks who work in factories and workshops. People who make real things and take pride in what they do. And then, you have to go in there with them to see how it’s done. So, that’s what I did. I poked around every corner of this country — big cities, small towns, and whatever was in between — looking for the soul of America. And you know what? I found it everywhere. So sit back and relax, because we’ve got it made… in America.”

His visits to companies across the country inspired him to co-author of the book, “We’ve Got it Made in America: A Common Man’s Salute to an Uncommon Country.”

Bridgeport, Connecticut native, Ratzenberger, learned about life, work ethic and entrepreneurial challenger long before achieving fame on the big and small screens. In 1969 Ratzenberger was a tractor operator at the Woodstock Festival. He later moved to London, where he worked as a house framer while beginning his career in the performing arts.

Along with his work on “Cheers,” Ratzenberger resume includes roles in many acclaimed films and television shows and has the unique distinction of having voiced characters in every Pixar animated film to date.

In contrast to his portrayal of barroom blowhard and resident know-it-all, Cliff Clavin, the real life John Ratzenberger is a highly regarded supporter of skilled trades and engineering. Among his non-acting life roles, he serves on the boards of Pepperdine and Sacred Heart Universities.

Beyond his acting career, Ratzenberger has spoken out on a number of social issues. As a co-owner of the company Eco-Pack, he produced environmentally conscious packaging materials. He also co-founded Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs, a foundation aimed at encouraging young people to explore careers in manufacturing, and has worked to raise awareness of juvenile diabetes.

His newest project as a spokesperson for M.O.S.T (Mobile Outreach Skills Training) has given him the opportunity to speak to citizens around the country and give the unemployed a call to action. M.O.S.T is a fast-track program that prepares unemployed and underemployed individuals for frontline production jobs. He has appeared in television interviews with FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC among many others to discuss his role with the only organization in the country guaranteeing employment to its graduates.

John Ratzenberger is currently in pre-production on a new documentary, the purpose of which is to awaken Americans to the shortage of skilled workers that threatens our country as a whole.

Antelope Valley Board of Trade President Al Hoffman, who chaired the record-setting 2014 Business Outlook Conference at Mojave Air & Space Port, said the organization is committed to continuing the series of boundary-breaking program and format innovations which figured so prominently in the previous event’s success.

The name of the second keynote speaker will be announced soon.

Tickets are already on sale for the 2015 conference. For reservations and information call the AV Board of Trade office at 661-947-9033, or email

Wally Amos

Formerly ‘Famous’ Wally Amos To share life, success recipes

The 2015 Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference audience can expect to be inspired by keynote speaker Wally Amos, a 78-year-old entrepreneur who made big dough in the cookie business, took his lumps from losing it, and came back strong with his own special recipe for a life well lived.

Wally Amos, once known as “famous” and now called The Cookie Kahuna, “Caretaker of the TASTE,” lives by the motto, “Be positive anyway.” So far it’s working for him, and he’ll tell how at the Friday, Feb. 27 Outlook Conference at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster.

To make a long story short, Wally Amos was a William Morris Agency talent agent who took his Auntie’s recipe for homemade, from scratch, chocolate chip cookies, opened the world’s first gourmet cookie store in Los Angeles in 1975, and became a famous figure in American culture. He is the founder of the Famous Amos® chocolate chip cookie brand, although he lost his right to use his name in a corporate takeover after selling stock to finance rapid expansion.

But Wally didn’t worry. He wrote about his experiences, authored ten books, went on the inspirational speakers’ circuit, became a tireless advocate for childhood and adult literacy, and started a successful new company, The Cookie Kahuna, using his original ingredients and techniques, but selling the products online,, and in boutique gourmet stores in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has made his primary home in Hawaii for the past four decades.

Economics authority Watkins To deliver forecast for the AV

Bill WatkinsBill Watkins, Ph.D., Executive Director of California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, has accepted the invitation to deliver the economic forecast at the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference in Lancaster on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

Josh Mann, chairman of the AV Board of Trade’s 48th annual Outlook Conference, said Dr. Watkins is a previous forecast presenter for the conference, known for clear and accurate insights on prospects for the regional economy.

Watkins, associate professor of economics at Cal Lutheran, joined the CLU community in June 2009 and was instrumental in launching the university’s Master of Science in Economics program that focuses on forecasting and applied research.

Prior to coming to CLU, Watkins served as the Executive Director of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Economics 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 in the Monetary Affairs Division of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.

After almost 20 years in banking and lending, Bill Watkins, Ph.D., returned to graduate school in 1992. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1998. After graduation, he worked as an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington D.C.

Watkins has been widely published in academic journals, traditional media and new media. He is quoted regularly by news organizations throughout the world on the issues of demographic trends, economic development, workforce issues, equity, and California economics.