Smile Southern California, You're the Center of the Universe:
The Economy and People of a Global Region



Jim Flanigan reminds the audience why Southern California remains one of the most economically vital and innovative regions in the country.
Thirty-five years ago a local billboard went up, commanding passersby to "Smile Los Angeles! You're the Center of the Universe!" Hyperbole? Perhaps, but author James Flanigan argues that Southern California is a dynamic economic model for American competition in a global world.

Flanigan has distilled the insights gained through decades of reporting on the region's economy into a new book, which he discussed at a recent Milken Institute Forum.

At a time when we are inundated with dour headlines about California's fiscal crisis, he offered a bracing reminder of our region's vitality and its capacity for innovation.

His book celebrates the engines of our past, present and future growth, including cutting-edge technology, the evolution of the entertainment industry and ports that are well-positioned to capitalize on trade with rapidly rising Asian economies. Because Southern California offers newcomers the ability to completely reinvent themselves, Flanigan argues, the region benefits from a steady stream of ambitious new arrivals who replenish its ideas, capital and can-do entrepreneurial spirit.

For 45 years, James Flanigan has covered business and economics for The New York Times, Forbes and other leading publications. He has reported on international economies from Europe to Asia, from Latin America to the Middle East. His column in the business section of The Los Angeles Times ran for more than two decades.