One of the themes in many Berkeleyside stories over the past year has been the climate for local business in Berkeley. The conditions for local businesses are driven above all by the broader economic conditions and, in Berkeley as elsewhere, the last couple of years have been pretty punishing for most businesses. There’s another factor, however, that’s particular to Berkeley: the city’s reputation, deserved or not, as not being the most business friendly.

To examine these issues, and to provide some practical ideas for local businesses, Berkeleyside is organizing its first Local Business Forum.

We’re at the early stage of designing the program for the Forum, but we’ve already confirmed Chris Anderson, Berkeleyan, Editor-in-Chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail and Free, and entrepreneur, as one of our speakers. Anderson will be joined by Carl Bass, another Berkeleyan and CEO of Fortune 100 company Autodesk, Michael Caplan, director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, and an opinionated, vocal group of local business leaders.

But the Forum won’t be about one-way communication from speakers to audience. We’re designing it to be highly interactive — a real opportunity for local business people to share experiences, air their thoughts, and learn from their peers. If you run a Berkeley business you will want to be involved — and you can start now by sharing your thoughts in the comments on possible agenda items.

The Forum will be on Monday, January 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Freight & Salvage on Addison (doors open at 6.30pm). The Forum will be a free event. We’ll be filling in details of the program as they develop, but if you want to reserve your place send us an email.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...