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CAEZ Conference

The following appeared today in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

The California Association of Enterprise Zones held its annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Valencia in Santa Clarita on Thursday.

More than 200 enterprise zone specialists from across the nation attended the event featuring keynote speaker and Olympian Bruce Jenner.

The city of Santa Clarita applied to the association to hold the annual conference locally, said Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city. Hosting the conference in Santa Clarita benefits the local community economically, he said.

Having the conference held in town put a spotlight for economic development on Santa Clarita and is great for the city’s tourism efforts, Crawford said.

The statewide association also recognized Valencia-based AMS Fulfillment as Business of the Year. Business partners Ken Wiseman and Jay Catlin accepted the honor at the luncheon.

The local business has become a shining example of the benefits of using an enterprise zone program for expansion and hiring, said Craig Johnson, president of the California Association of Enterprise Zones. They’ve hired more than 100 people, qualifying the company for tax hiring credits.

“There are some wonderful incentives through the enterprise zone,” said Wiseman said. “But the true reward is walking through the business and knowing you’re truly helping folks in the community who are struggling.”

Many of the at-risk youth the company has hired became so motivated to work, he said. They’re not just going home with a paycheck, Wiseman said, but their paycheck is creating a safety net for their entire family, helping to put food on the table, he said.

Bruce Jenner, sharing the story of his success at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and entering the Olympic Hall of Fame, told the business audience that the greatest competitor they face is themselves.

“Success starts with a dream,” Jenner said. “Then find the champion within you.”

Coming from as far away as the East Coast and Atlanta, specialists, including some of the large accounting firms like Ernst & Young, attended the conference, he said.

“It shows Santa Clarita off to a whole new group of business folks who have contact with other business leaders; planting seeds about what a great business community this is for future opportunities,” Crawford said.

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