It Was a Good Day for L.A. to Sell Itself


You’ve got a captive audience of 250 or so powerful chief executives and a beautiful summer day free of economic downturns, earthquakes or civil disturbances. What’s a city to do?

Sell, it turns out, and that’s what Los Angeles did on Thursday at the third annual Forbes CEO Forum, which the financial magazine brought to Los Angeles after some determined brokering by L.A.’s businessman-turned-mayor.

“Los Angeles is the place for what’s new and what’s next in business, and we’re always looking for companies who want to grow with us,” Mayor Richard Riordan told top and near-top executives from around the country and from as far away as Australia.


Riordan has said he considers the conference a prime showcase for Los Angeles, and Forbes magazine was able to secure the city’s help with an advertising supplement on Los Angeles scheduled for the Sept. 22 issue.

The selling of Los Angeles began when participants checked into their hotel rooms Wednesday to find the latest issue of Forbes sealed with a paper band advising them to call an 800 number that offered information on how to go about doing business in the city. An exhibit next to the auditorium entrance at UCLA’s Anderson management school further touted L.A’s rebound.

The sales pitch was enlightening to some, but many of the executives said they already do some business in Los Angeles.

“Most of the people here already know Los Angeles very well,” said John Klein, chief executive of MIM Corp., a New York pharmaceutical benefits management company.

Most of the conference was devoted to mulling the weighty issues of “The Next Millennium,” as the conference was subtitled, with speakers such as Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, Netscape Chairman Jim Clark and management guru Peter Drucker.