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Innovation and the New Global Economy: International Leaders Gather at 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit

Mayor Watts and Richard Branson at the 2012 Surrey Economic Summit.

October 04, 2012

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and some of North America’s leading political and business commentators joined leaders from across the region at the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit today. The event provided unique perspectives on the new global economy and addressed a wide range of challenges and opportunities facing the region and Canada.

Close to 400 local business, government and community leaders attended the Summit, which over the past five years has featured prominent international speakers and presenters such as
Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes, and former United States presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

In addition to Sir Richard Branson, this year’s Summit featured: Christina Romer, Economics Professor at UCLA and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors to the White House; Stephen Moore, Senior Economist, The Wall Street Journal; Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia; Eleanor Clift, Contributing Editor, Newsweek and Panelist on The McLaughlin Group; Bill Bennett, CNN Political Commentator and Radio Host of Bill Bennett’s Morning in America; and Fazil Mihlar, Associate Editor of The Vancouver Sun.

With more than 400 Virgin companies in more than 30 countries, Branson shared his experiences from a remarkable 30-year career in business, which has seen him become the only person ever to create eight separate billion-dollar companies, each in a different sector.

With the United States presidential election just one month away, Eleanor Clift and Bill Bennett looked at the domestic and international impact of the election and which outcome would best support Canada’s own long-term economic growth. Stephen Moore and Christina Romer looked at the changing economies of America, Europe and Asia and the challenges and opportunities each presents for economic recovery in North America.

“Sir Richard Branson provided valuable lessons and insights on the importance of leadership and how to turn challenges into opportunities,” said Mayor Dianne Watts. “Our other panellists provided unique perspectives on our $1-trillion economic relationship with the United States, and what the upcoming election holds for our largest trading partner. As we create B.C.’s next metropolitan centre, the Surrey Summit is playing a key role in making sure our city and our province are well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace.”

“By bringing Surrey’s and British Columbia’s business, community and government leaders together to share ideas and hear from some of the world’s most influential business and community leaders, the Surrey Summit has become one of the most significant business and economic conference of its kind in Canada,” said Councillor and Summit Chair Linda Hepner.

For more information about the Summit, visit

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Media contact:
Tara Foslien