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I attended my first Chapman University Economic Forecast Update at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa with hope for some good economic news for Orange County and the country, and I wasn’t disappointed. Slow growth was projected, but at least it was growth! Chapman’s economic forecasts from the university’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research, a part of The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics, are held twice a year – in December for the upcoming year and a mid-year report in June – and are presented by Chapman’s President Dr. Jim Doti and Anderson Center’s Director Dr. Esmael Adibi. Jim is a favorite of mine. Name another university president who climbs the world’s highest mountains, runs the Boston Marathon and writes children’s books. ‘Nuff said! Getting back to the subject, the duo projected a modestly improving U.S. economy with continued Orange County recovery in job growth and a lower-than-average unemployment rate.

Allen Staff, Bank of America Orange County Market President, the Forecast’s Title Sponsor, spoke about the unusual relationship between the bank and Chapman. It seems that Bank of America (known as Bank of Italy when it was founded in 1906) founder A.P. Giannini was a good friend of entrepreneur Charles C. Chapman, who founded his own bank, which he named Bank of America. Both banks grew rapidly, and when Giannini later bought Chapman’s bank, it seems he not only wanted the bank, he wanted the name. In the blink of an eye, Giannini merged Bank of Italy and all of his financial institutions into a single entity called Bank of America. So, it was actually Charles C. Chapman, for whom Chapman College (later Chapman University) was named, who actually named one of the world’s best-known financial services institutions. Great story!

Did I mention there were 840 attendees at the Forecast? It was a very packed ballroom – lots of businessmen and women interested in the economic climate. Also of note, more than $122,000 was netted for university scholarships. Put November 28th on your calendar. The 2013 Economic Forecast will be in November this year!

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I’ve been attending Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Annual Meeting for years as I am a founding member of the Center Guilds’ Crescendo Chapter and a former founding member of Center Stars. This year’s meeting, held at the center’s Samueli Theater, drew a cadre of who’s who to elect some major incumbent arts supporters to its board of directors and report the progress of the renowned arts institution, just completing its 25th anniversary season. The report was good, with world-class artists, companies and shows gracing the center’s stages and the award-winning music education programs attracting 325,000 children. More good news? The Center remains financially in the black. Hear hear!

SCFTA’s board chair Larry Higby recognized the board members re-elected for three-year terms, who included Zee Allred, John Evans, Michael Gordon, Rick Muth, Pat Poss, Mark Robinson, Jr., Glenn Stearns, Tom Tucker, and Jan Yada. Higby also welcomed three new board members – Jackie Glass, Dennis Gilmore and Mike Shapiro. The affair always singles out a supporter or two for special honors, and this year’s Chapman’s Cup, presented and chosen by Higby, went to Allred and Eileen Cirillo – Cirillo for her financial support and for her tireless work as a center volunteer, particularly in the Center Docent program; Allred for her role in the growth of philanthropy in Orange County and especially for Segerstrom Center of the Arts, where she continues to serve on the center’s board, as well as the executive and board development committees. Both women were pleasantly surprised and humbled by the honor.

For all you Broadway lovers, it was announced that SCFTA’s Broadway Series would include Tony Award-winning blockbusters – all new to the center – Memphis, War Horse and Bill Elliott, with the return of the immensely popular Wicked. Another hear hear!

Photograph: Xuong Do