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Bill Clinton to L.A. business leaders: Don't wait for D.C.

October 17, 2011 |  8:15 pm

Bill
President Bill Clinton has a message to Los Angeles’ business leaders: Don’t wait for elected officials to jump-start the economy.

Clinton, speaking at a UBS Wealth Management Americas event at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, said businesses should do their part to expand hiring and encourage economic growth.

The invitation-only roundtable was attended by 300 of the bank’s wealthiest clients in Los Angeles, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa providing opening remarks. And, given the location, audience members included celebrities like legendary music producer Berry Gordy.

“It is a mistake for all of us to sit here and hope for a miracle from Washington to happen,” Clinton told the high-powered audience, who UBS said ran companies that employed 250,000 in the U.S. and did business in 75 countries.

“You have to ask yourself ... is there anything that you’re doing overseas that you can do here?” he said. “Can you bring more manufacturing back to America?”

In a wide-ranging discussion with UBS Wealth Management head Robert McCann, Clinton talked about topics including the mortgage crisis and the political gridlock in Washington. His focus on creating more jobs in the U.S. and California was also a central issue.

UBS and Clinton have teamed up with a program aimed at matching the bank’s financial advisors and top clients with small-business owners looking for mentors. The Small Business Advisory Program has already been running in New York, and it is set to roll out to Los Angeles and Chicago in April.

The Clinton Economic Opportunity initiative helps select 10 to 15 companies, which in New York had average revenue of about $8.4 million. The first group in New York included businesses like a Brooklyn tool company and a Manhattan restaurant and food-truck chain specializing in dumplings.

 “The partnership with President Clinton made all the sense in the world,”  McCann said in an interview. “We’re doing something to contribute. We’re looking for a way to give back.”

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Photo: Former President Clinton takes the stage during the "Decade of Difference" concert Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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