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COVER STORY
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Leading the way: Lucy Dunn and the Orange County Business Council

How the Orange County Business Council and CEO Lucy Dunn have become O.C.’s (maybe California’s) most powerful economic voice

by steve churm and tori richardsPublished: July 01, 2011

Lucy Dunn, OCBC president and CEO
Lucy Dunn has done the math, and things just don’t add up. The population, the jobs, the will to grow and expand and the sheer economic might all tilt in favor of Southern California. But the fact is that every major statewide elected official, including the governor, hails from Northern California.
   
“What’s wrong with this picture?” asks Dunn, her trademark smile punctuating the moment. “Maybe, just maybe, we should be our own state.” The possibility hangs in the air, but not for long. Within seconds, she’s marching on to the next topic with her mission front and center: business first.
   
Dunn, who is equally commanding and comfortable with governors and shopkeepers, is the first lady of business in Orange County. She’s the president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council (OCBC) and, as such, she carries the burden of selling the county’s virtues as the economic engine driving the Golden State’s recovery and leading an organization that is a national model for business development and retention.
   
Dunn is the business council’s point person, the top gun of a nonprofit that has few peers in California when it comes to championing initiatives to protect business interests and fostering a climate for economic expansion. At a time when California ranks near the bottom in multiple indices measuring the state’s friendliness toward business, Orange County is a sharp departure. In terms of creating new jobs, the county is first in the state and third nationally among the 35 largest metropolitan areas. When it comes to infrastructure – roads, mass transit and utilities – the county excels at planning and execution. Diversity in terms of industry and ethnicity are strengths, not obstacles. And education, a key to economic development, has been a magnet for attracting business owners and skilled labor to set up shop in this 798-square-mile county sandwiched between two better-known neighbors, Los Angeles and San Diego.
   


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