Surrey Regional Economic Summit 2012

On October 4th at the Surrey Sheraton Guildford Hotel, Surrey hosted some of the most influential economists, journalists and entrepreneurs in the world at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit (SRES). This year’s keynote speaker was entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist Sir Richard Branson.  Branson’s insights brought inspiration to the two hundred attendees at The SRES.

This year’s summit posed questions such as: What is the state of our present and future economy and society? How will multilateral relations and economic recovery be affected by either Obama’s re-election or Romney’s victory in November?  The City of Surrey invited UC Berkley Professor Christina Romer, Wall Street Journal economist Stephen Moore, The Daily Beast / Newsweek journalist Eleanor Clift and CNN contributor and radio host William J. (Bill) Bennett to provide their commentary on the state of the political and economic climate.

Branson to Youth: “Just get on, and try it” or “Screw it, let’s do it

In previous Surrey summits, two former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former UK Premier Minister Tony Blair and former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have presented as keynote speakers.  This year’s featured speaker, Sir Richard Branson is an inspiration to both established business people and young entrepreneurs alike. Branson is the only individual in the world who has created 8 different companies in different industries, each worth $1billion. He is recognized as one of the most influential and innovative businessmen in the world.

In conversation with CKNW’s  host Bill Good,  Branson pointed out that the biggest mistake people can make in business and entrepreneurship is to abandon their wishes and ideas.  From his start in the music magazine publishing industry decades ago,  Sir Richard Branson has been synonymous with successful business.  Branson praised Canada’s success and stability during the recession and financial crisis. A significant statement from Branson who lives and works in Europe where the majority of countries are struggling with the most challenging financial, economic and political crisis of the last few decades.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has survived the recent recession extremely well. In my opinion Canada’s got a spectacular future”. – Sir Richard Branson, SRES 2012

Branson’s advice to young entrepreneurs stressed one rule: “If you’re going into business do it to be the best in what  you are doing, otherwise there’s no point going in.”  He added that having an idea means that you should try until you succeed.

Addressing he ideas of formal education and business success Branson stated, “I’m not sure that getting a business degree is necessary to run a business. In my opinion almost anybody could become an entrepreneur if they have a dream to make a difference in other peoples lives.”

Branson’s ideas to inspire people to succeed at being the best are solidified in his book “Screw it, let’s do it.” According to Mayor Dianne Watts, the phrase “Screw it, let’s do it.” is the motto used by the City and Council when they need that extra motivation. Branson’s inspiring  ideas and messages are meaningful for residents of communities like Surrey where approximately 34% of the overall population is under age of 30.  Our community has one of the largest numbers of young families in Canada.

America, Europe and Asia: On the Road to Recovery

In my opinion there was no better place in the North America to learn where our economies are going and what we can expect in the future. Christina Romer, UC Berkley professor of Economics and former Chair of White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal Economist are two people with unbelievable experience and knowledge on the current state of economics not only in US,  but also on a global scale.

According to Romer and Moore, the US economy today is in grave condition that could change after the November presidential elections. It is highly likely that there will be an enormous impact on all the major markets, especially in North America. Romer states that the major impact will be the result of the voters decision and support in the presidential race. Prof. Romer expects a full recovery of US business, although the recovery process it expected to be slow. In her opinion, the EU financial and economic crisis are likely to continue for the next 3 to five years. Stability will not be viable unless EU introduces and implements new fiscal policy to promote essential growth.

Moore stated that US recovery would be effected by the cloud of fear created over the last few years as a result of the failures in the banking sector and other economic factors. The cloud of fear that Moore refers to is one that exists globally and is also present in Canada. It is only through the removal of this cloud of fear that we will have a better chance of recovery.  Regarding the European crisis, Moore states that Europe has failed to understand the extent of the trouble they’re in at the moment.

Voting on the Future: The Domestic and International Impact of the American Presidential Election

To have two extremely experienced and successful journalists and commentators in one place just hours after the first inaugural US Presidential debate was a once in a lifetime occasion.  Democrat commentator Eleanor Clift, from Newsweek and The Daily Beast,  and William J. (Bill) Bennett, CNN Republican commentator and former Secretary of Education, provided their ideas on the impact of the November election on the US and around the world.

Clift defended President Obama, while Bennett argued that the President endangered the US and didn’t implement his promises from the 2008 campaign. The state of the US economy was also addressed by Clift and Bennett. Clift believes the problem started in the Bush era, creating the biggest financial crisis in the USA and the world. Opposing Clift, Bennett stated that while problems started in last years of the Bush era, Obama has created even bigger problems and deepened the national debt.

On foreign policy Clift sees opportunity for the United States to be a pacifier and to continue the current policy stream without starting new wars, especially with Iran.  She sees a possible resolution in a diplomatic approach and not the one argued by the Israeli Prime Minister. Bennett argued that Iran’s situation must be resolved in different way, and that the US must keep old allies and friends if they want to protect its own interests. He also wants to see more action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bennett is the father of a US Navy Marine and a supporter of the forces and policies promoted by the Republicans.

They both agreed that Mitt Romney won first presidential debate and now has a significantly higher chance to win the November election. Clift and Bennett acknowledged that the overall race will be extremely tight and very interesting over its final weeks.

Surrey has proven that they are able to organize, implement and successfully present these summits.  The SRES came at an interesting time this year, following the first US Presidential debate.  The SRES brought to the forefront the current state of international politics and the economy and its impact on Canada, the US and the world. Professionals, students and media had a rare opportunity to witness some of the greatest minds in politics, media and entrepreneurship today. SRES 2012 took a provocative look at politics and the economy. We anticipate next year’s SRES to be bigger and better.


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