Economic Impacts of Presidential Election Discussed at Central Coast Business Symposium

San Luis Obispo — The economic impacts of the presidential election were a focus of the fourth-annual Central Coast Business Symposium. More than 300 area business leaders attended the event Wednesday, which was sponsored by San Luis Obispo law firm Andre, Morris & Buttery and held at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. It was designed to give business leaders a way to collaborate and share information about how to improve the region’s economy.

Featured speakers included Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clark Hoyt, former public editor for The New York Times and Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Knight Ridder; current editor-at-large for Bloomberg News Tim Bennett, the former president of Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey’s family of businesses; and Kathy Eppright, managing principal of Andre, Morris & Buttery. Hoyt expects this year’s campaign and the election that follows will “be a rough one.”

He predicts Democrats will say President Obama is still trying to clean up problems he inherited from George W. Bush, while Republicans will contend Obama hasn’t done enough to put Americans back to work. Hoyt added that watching the candidates go at each other is akin to seeing John Adams and Thomas Jefferson campaign in 1800. “Not much has changed,” Hoyt said.

Bennett shared what it was like to work with Oprah Winfrey for more than 20 years. He said she was a good boss who gave employees threemonth-long vacations, took employees and their families on cruises, and during Christmas would give a week’s pay as a bonus.

Bennett also shared stories about the challenges Winfrey and her team faced, specifically the backlash that followed Winfrey saying in 1996 that she would never eat a burger again after the outbreak of mad cow disease. She was later sued by the meat industry. The case was dismissed.

Bennett said that when it comes to business, an owner must have vision. “Always begin with the end in mind. If you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail,” he added. Andre, Morris & Buttery created the Central Coast Business Symposium in 2009 in conjunction with the firm’s 60th anniversary.

— Stacey Daniel, The Tribune