Business

Thursday, Jul 25 2013 04:53 PM

Optimism strong at NOR economic conference

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Russell Johnson, Master of Ceremonies for the Annual Economic Outlook Conference, laughs at a joke made by guest speaker, Chad Hathaway, co-owner of the Bakersfield Blaze Minor League Baseball team, at Hodel's Liberty Hall on Thursday afternoon.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Business owners and community members gather for the Annual Economic Outlook Conference hosted by the North of the River Chamber of Commerce at Hodel's Liberty Hall on Thursday afternoon.

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BY LAURA LIERA Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

Bakersfield is moving forward.

That was the motto at the third annual Economic Outlook Conference, hosted by the North of the River Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon.

Three hundred local community members listened to positive messages about Bakersfield and reacted with smiles as they heard about new plans in the works for the area.

"A couple of years ago I took my wife to a Bakersfield Blaze game for the first time and we haven't been back," said Greg Dounies, general manager of HALL Letter Shop. "But today it was great to see the new updates that are on the way and what makes it even better is that we were able to meet those behind the change."

Chad Hathaway, co-owner of the Bakersfield Blaze Minor League Baseball, showed pictures of the planned future baseball stadium during a PowerPoint presentation; the audience appeared to be very interested in the project.

"We want everyone to understand that we want to do projects that will help the city move foward because we wouldn't want to be anywhere else, because this is home to us and it's a great place to be," Hathaway said.

Most of the speakers at the conference agreed that Bakersfield's economy is doing better than surrounding areas, especially in agriculture and the oil industry.

Richard Chapman, Kern Economic Development Corp. president and CEO, said Bakersfield is in the top five to 10 metro areas in California in terms of economic growth and stability.

"It's important to continue to train workers in the different workforces but also bring in people from the outside to brand this area," Chapman said.

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