Friday, December 2, 2022

A Conversation with Jeff Ball, CEO of the Orange County Business Council

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a panel of Commercial Real Estate professionals at the Cal State Fullerton economic forecast luncheon held at the Disneyland hotel.

Moderating the panel was Jeffrey K. Ball, CEO of the Orange County Business Council and former CEO of Friendly Hills Bank.

Our conversation was followed by my invitation for Jeff to attend a group meeting of business professionals with whom I network. We meet monthly and discuss trends in our respective fields of commercial real estate, banking, law, human resources, information technology, accounting, peer to peer coaching, investment banking and fractional C-suite interaction.

You might wonder why the meetings? In my experience, my clients (owners of closely held manufacturing and logistics businesses) are touched by all these professions and yet we don’t compete, we complement. I’ve found great value in understanding their worlds.

But in this meeting, Jeff was our guest to describe his mission at the Orange County Business Council. If you’re unfamiliar with OCBC, here’s a brief overview I curated from its website:

“Orange County Business Council works to enhance Orange County’s economic development and prosperity to preserve a high quality of life. For more than 125 years, it has promoted economic development and served as the voice of business in America’s sixth-largest county. OCBC serves pro-business interests so that the region’s vibrant economy continues to expand, bringing the benefits of prosperity to every corner of the county.”

Jeff is quite engaging and passionate about his role. He described the tenets of the group: advocacy, research and networking events — of which the economic forecast was one.

With economic development serving as an overarching umbrella from which our county grows and prospers, we spent time discussing the retention of business within the county, attracting new companies and expanding existing firms here in Orange County.

Some of what Jeff chatted about includes showcasing Orange County during the upcoming Olympics by offering a tour package including beachfront hotel stays, amusement park and museum passes.

We also talked about how the 34 cities within our county can use the council and its available data as a repository for available manufacturing and warehousing space.

Finally, Jeff said he plans to place much emphasis on the council’s role in economic development through leadership, strategy and execution. 

All of this doesn't come without its share of challenges, he noted.

He shared how the county faces a housing shortage which causes affordability issues. In order to keep the best and brightest of our young people, he said, the council and the county will have to figure out how to add new housing while dealing with NIMBYism, CEQA, and the regulatory maze of getting new housing entitled and built.

OCBC and Jeff will help with these efforts by focusing on pro-business candidates. Advocacy in the areas of clean water, cutting edge technology, safe streets and highways are just a few ways Jeff said OCBC is taking charge.

Our business roundtable found Jeff to be knowledgeable, resourceful and well qualified to set the vision and execute the strategy of the OCBC.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104.

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