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Chamber talks commerce

Event: SCV Chamber of Commerce holds panel to discuss development, opportunities

Posted: November 18, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 18, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Damian Jones, managing partner for Pacific Strategy Group, at podium, holds up a list of large companies that are leaving California because of lower costs in other states.

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A panel of experts spoke about a wide array of business-related topics Thursday at the SCV Chamber of Commerce’s “Biz Development Panel.”

Speaking on business leadership, employment law, leasing property or office space, complying with work-safety requirements and the state of California’s business climate, speakers covered a broad spectrum of topics.

Leading to survive

Surviving in a constantly changing environment requires leadership and assembling a balanced team of employees who can provide all the skills necessary to succeed, said Scott Jette, CEO of Credo Consulting of Santa Clarita.

Companies need “TEAMS,” an acronym for having at least one person who fills the role of: a Theorist, or idea person; an Executor; Analyzer; Manager; and Strategist, Jette said.

“The single most important lesson I learned while in the military was to lead by example,” he said.

Host of laws

Describing California as a difficult state in which to be an employer, attorney Brian Koegle outlined a number of laws in place, or coming into existence in 2012, that make it difficult for companies to stay abreast of and manage for compliance.

Specializing in employment law with the firm of Poole & Shaffery in Valencia, Koegle distributed a checklist of 56 points companies should be on top of with regards to complying with state employment laws ranging from employment policies, hiring, trade secrets, benefits, wage and hour laws, harassment laws, employee discipline and termination practices.

“California doesn’t make it easy to be an employer in the state,” Koegle said.

For companies leasing space, there is a much different climate due to the economy, Bob Khalsa, a Santa Clarita real estate broker said.

There is room for negotiating when the vacancy rates are high, such as with office space but landlords must sometimes go through their lenders. With low commercial vacancy rates, there isn’t much room to negotiate, he said.

While it is intimidating for many companies to understand and comply with all of the CAL-OSHA and worker compensation requirements in California, doing so and having a robust program lowers expenses and increases productivity, said Dana Heimdahl Chernault, an affiliate with Smart Business Evolution and board certified safety professional.

“It pays for a company to look at workplace safety proactively,” Heimdahl said. “There are direct savings to your business.”

Economic emergency

Declaring an economic and political emergency for businesses in California, Damian Jones, managing partner with Pacific Strategy Group, said business owners need to call legislators’ attention to the anti-business climate in the state.

“They don’t think there’s a problem, and people need to call their attention to the problems,” Jones said.

The economic problems didn’t start with the recession, Jones said. It started a dozen years ago and the unfriendly business climate is driving high-profile companies out of the state.

“The whole state should be an Enterprise Zone,” Jones said. “It should be a state that asks businesses to come here to help educate and build a vibrant business community.”

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