Multi-billionaire Richard Branson arrives Thursday

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said the founder of the Virgin Group has a wealth of information for local businesses.

Richard Branson

One of the world’s best-known billionaires is arriving in Surrey Thursday to take part in the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit (SRES).

Surrey has long been trying to secure Richard Branson as a keynote speaker for the event and was finally successful in getting the founder of the Virgin Group as the featured speaker.

Branson is one of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs and is the only person ever to create eight separate billion-dollar companies, each in a different sector.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said securing Branson was a coup.

“When you’ve got someone of that calibre, the wealth of information… is absolutely invaluable,” said Watts.

Branson said in a release earlier this year the Surrey summit will be a chance for him to share his perspective on the importance of innovation and creativity as the world’s economy comes out from under the international downturn.

This year’s event will highlight changes in the world economies, and the importance of innovation and leadership in attracting business worldwide.

The one-day summit will also include two sessions titled: “America, Europe and Asia: Choices and Challenges on the Road to Recovery,” and “Voting on the Future: The Domestic and International Impact of the American Presidential Election.”

Over the past four years, the Surrey summit has attracted a variety of prominent international speakers and presenters, including former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former British prime minister Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani, and Steve Forbes, as well as business and economic commentators from Canada, the U.S., Asia and Britain.

The 2012 economic summit takes place Thursday, Oct. 4, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel at 15269 104 Ave.

@diakiw