Orange County’s spreading reputation as an economic destination where
innovation and capital meet is the result of many factors and
individuals. But increasingly, and with a frequency that is hard to
ignore, the OCBC has been at the intersection of business success in
Orange County, especially during Dunn’s nearly six years at the group’s
helm. In fact, the OCBC’s influence and importance as the county’s
“voice of business” clearly widened as the recent recession deepened.
Arguably the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the
recession has created an opportunity for Dunn’s 11-member staff to shore
up and advance the county’s position as a pro-business oasis in a state
where it seems owning a business is a curse, not an opportunity.
live in a totally great county where nothing rhymes with Orange – we do
things differently here,” says Dunn, whose reputation stretches from
Santa Ana to Silicon Valley and the governor’s office in Sacramento.
“There are other countywide organizations in other parts of the state
that we partner with, but our model is rather unique.”
Phelps, a partner in the Costa Mesa-based law firm of Manatt, Phelps
& Phillips, and a longtime OCBC board member, is even more emphatic
about the OCBC’s place in the business landscape. He claims the group
“has become simply the most influential voice of business for O.C. and
the region on federal, state and regional public policy issues. It is
bipartisan, strategic and well-informed, and is focused on issues that
are critical to business, not social issues or partisanship.”
Kempton, chief executive officer of the powerful Orange County
Transportation Authority and former head of the California Department of
Transportation, agrees: “The OCBC has played a key role in sustaining a
reasonable level of economic development in a very serious downturn
It is high praise for an organization that is
less than two decades old. Although the business council is an offshoot
of the 118-year-old Orange County Chamber of Commerce, this is not your
grandfather’s chamber that meets primarily to network.
in 1995 with the merger of three groups – the county chamber, the
Industrial League and Partnership 2010 – the OCBC has emerged as the
leading voice in Orange County on issues of business regulation,
taxation and legislation. The consistency and effectiveness of the group
in shielding business interests in recent years has clearly elevated
its profile – regionally and statewide. Today it’s almost automatic for
Dunn and her team of researchers, policy experts and
economic-development specialists to have a seat at the negotiating table
when it comes to major initiatives in the region.