California, buffeted by electricity woes, the downturn in technology and the effects of a national recession, still remains a strong economic force with bright prospects for future growth, a group of business leaders, government officials and economists said at the third annual State of the State Conference.

In a sober but upbeat assessment of the state's future, speakers said the current economic downturn will last for several quarters, but expressed confidence that California will come out of it in the second-half of 2002.

"While we do have a bumpy road ahead of us - probably for the next 10 to 12 months - confidence, innovation, immigrant spirit and just the courage and resolve to see our way through this will get us through," said Gov. Gray Davis, who gave a special afternoon presentation.

More than 400 business and financial leaders, government officials, economists and media attended the day-long event that focused on some of the state's key assets - its diversity, technological prowess, entertainment industry and entrepreneurial talent - while also pointing out the need to solve some long-standing problems such as housing costs and energy needs.

State Treasurer Philip Angelides, the conference's keynote speaker, summed up the day's outlook by telling the audience about the many challenges facing the state today because of the recession and September 11 terrorist attacks that have turned the state's budget surplus into a deficit of between $8 billion and $14 billion, but emphasizing that they are only temporary roadblocks.

"Despite our current challenges, I believe we are on the verge of a great era in California, which will secure our preeminence in the global marketplace - if we approach these times of stress with confidence and vision," Angelides said. "I believe we can sustain the California dream in the 21st century if we summon the strength at this time of crisis to invest anew in our economy and our people."

The day included sessions on energy, entertainment, demography, Internet and financing, and ended with a special Q & A with the audience and Milken Institute economists.