ROHNERT PARK -- The Business Journal and Sonoma State University School of Business are partnering to present their annual Economic Outlook Conference for the first time on the SSU campus at the world-class Donald and Maureen Green Music Center on Feb. 27.

[caption id="attachment_67957" align="alignright" width="144"] Sandy Weill[/caption]

Sandy Weill, former chairman and CEO of Citigroup and lead donor to the performing arts center, will be keynote speaker at the conference from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

[caption id="attachment_67958" align="alignleft" width="180"] Dr. William Silver[/caption]

"He came here because he saw something special about this place," said Dr. William Silver, dean of the college's school of business and economics. "Kicking off the conference with Sandy Weill is our opportunity to see 'What did he see that made this a worthy investment? What is the return?' I think it goes beyond a financial incentive."

The conference, titled "Game Changers: Innovations and Leaders Transforming the North Bay Economy," will also feature the annual North Bay economic outlook from Dr. Robert Eyler, economics professor at Sonoma State and director of the school's Center for Regional Economic Analysis.

[caption id="attachment_52339" align="alignright" width="162"] Dr. Robert Eyler[/caption]

Research is ongoing for the annual report, Dr. Eyler said. The report synthesizes data from a number of leading economic indicators, with a resulting index that will give attendees a clue towards the direction of the North Bay regional economies in 2013.

The annual conference will also feature innovators in the areas of food, wine, tourism and technology, some of the key industries that are playing an increasing role in the arc of the region's recovery. Robert Hunter, a Marin County-based financial and small business adviser, will also discuss the increasing prevalence of crowd funding as a way to capitalize early-stage companies.

[caption id="attachment_66425" align="alignleft" width="358"] Weill Hall at the Green Music Center on the Sonoma State University campus[/caption]

Among the attendees will be nearly 800 students from Sonoma State taking part in a first-ever mandatory course titled Living in a Changing World: Culture, Values and Perspectives. The course is taught by the deans of the college's seven academic schools, including Dr. Silver, as well as the university president and provost.

Dr. Silver noted that the theme of this year's conference harmonized well with the subject of the new course, and that bringing students together with North Bay innovators could help enhance their experience.

"Change is one of the subjects that cuts across disciplines," he said.

 Registration for the event, underwritten by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Empire College, is available at or by calling 707-521-5264. Tickets are $59, or $590 for priority reserved seating.