Participating in Select LA 2019 - A Vancouver Journal

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4:30 am Vancouver. I wake up for a 6:30 flight on Air Canada out of YVR to LAX. Arriving in LAX just after 9:30 I hail a Lyft and 45 minutes later reach my hotel at the Courtyard by Marriott just beside L.A. Live in downtown L.A.  A quick check in to drop off my bags at the hotel and I take a 10 minute walk over to the new Intercontinental Hotel where the proceedings are taking place.

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The Select LA Summit is held annually by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) that owns the rights to the local World Trade Center franchise. As the U.S. Department of Commerce holds Select USA in Washington, D.C. every June many jurisdictions, like L.A. have held summits in advance so that visiting delegations can pass through other cities beforehand.  Like its larger counterpart, Select LA is an investment attraction event intended to bring and retain investment into the L.A. region. As MAPLE Business Council is a partner of WTC-LA, and their CEO Stephen Cheung has been so kind to speak in Vancouver and Toronto, I thought it would be good for me to show my support by joining them on this occasion.

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With me today from MAPLE are principal founders, Stephen Armstrong and Robert Kelle joined later in the day by Stan Marszal, our Regional Director in San Diego and Eric Eide, one of our Advisory Board members.  We are also joined by my colleague on the World Trade Centre Vancouver Advisory Committee, Jamir Jaffer and his wife who divide their time between Loa Angeles and Vancouver.

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To encourage out of town visitors, all delegates from out of the country are allowed to participate in this one day event for free. Anyone interested in investing or creating business linkages between Canada and L.A. should consider attending as I found the cost of airfare as well as a hotel downtown to be relatively reasonable.

I arrive at midday to the event around 10:30 and they are well into their third session of the day.  The night preceding they held a pre-event reception at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank.

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There were several sessions in the day that talked about: hosting of major sports events, opportunities in the blockchain, transportation infrastructure, and measuring the extent of foreign investment in the region.  There are several networking breaks scheduled with a fairly large exhibit floor as well. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a truly dynamic speaker, addresses the crowd during a lunch keynote. Although not entering his name in the Democratic leadership race for the 2020 election, look for his name to be relevant in federal politics in years to come.

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Of particular note in this conference is the focus on Canada as the 3rd largest source of foreign investment in Los Angeles after the UK and Japan.  In addition, at the conference, the LAEDC previewed additional research focused on the depth and breadth of Southern California’s economic ties with Canada. The full report will be debuted on Canada Day. MAPLE participated actively in this study and was recognized during the introduction of the report.

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Proceedings ended at 5pm and delegates proceeded to the Consulate General of Canada’s Residence for a wind up reception.  This is a beautiful residence located about 20 minutes away west of downtown near Hancock Park.

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Over 100 guests attended the reception and although the Consul General was in Canada on this occasion, Senior Trade Commissioner and Consul, Patricia Elliott provided welcoming remarks followed by thanks from Stephen Cheung, CEO of WTC-LA.  An excellent venue for casual networking until events eventually wound down around 9pm.

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Since Vancouver is easily accessible by air with both frequency of flights and airfare being quite attractive it is easy to come down with minimal investment in time and money.  My flight was not until 1:30pm the following afternoon so in the morning I quickly visited Glendale to meet a contact at Walt Disney Imagineering.

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Overall, Select LA is a really first-class event to make new acquaintances both from the L.A. area and from abroad.  For those of us from Vancouver interested in doing business in SoCal the conference is free to attend and the cost of travel is fairly minimal.  The business ecosystem is so deep here, (Los Angeles is the world’s 13th largest economy), that is easy to tag on other meetings before or after with connections new and old. Congratulations to WTC-LA, Stephen Cheung, Michael Smith, and team and we look forward to seeing you again.