Nimble cowboy boots line danced the evening away at the Burbank Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Saddle Up! Gala hosted by Calamigos Equestrian last Friday. And all the whoopin’ and cheerin’ from business leaders and local dignitaries came from more than just the joy juice. Burbank had galloped into 2018 on a high horsepower economy with no sunset in sight.
“Burbank has the best job base of any community I’ve seen in the western U.S.,” said former Burbank Mayor and Burbank Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Flavin, who has worked extensively in the states of Colorado and Washington, as well as in California. “And the Chamber wants to do all it can to keep it that way,” he continued. Good jobs drive a good local economy.” In Burbank, well-paying jobs have spurred the median family income to reach $83,000, (close to twice the national average,) giving Main Street businesses a decided leg up on many greater LA locales.
A happy occasion indeed to honor Williams Chiropractic & Sports Medicine Center as Small Business of the Year; IKEA, Burbank as Community Partner of the Year; and three Volunteers of the Year, Gold Star Ambassadors Don Baldaseroni, Nancy Serpa and Jeanne Vlazny.
Small Business of the Year honoree Dr. Michael Williams (Williams Chiropractic) moved his practice to Burbank in 1996 and immediately joined the Burbank CofC. Shortly afterward, in January 1997, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce asked Dr. Williams to take on a very demanding role: chairing its Business Connection Luncheon Committee, which oversees the Burbank CofC’s key networking activities. Burbank CofC Board member Barry Burnett pointed out that Dr. Williams continued to be the committee chair for the next 19 years, a decided mark of exceptional dedication and leadership. In addition, Dr. Williams served two terms on the Burbank CofC Board of Directors.
In honoring IKEA, Burbank, as Community Partner of the Year, Flavin recalled how IKEA’s original Burbank opening (in 1990, when Barcelona and Budapest also welcomed IKEA’s) had brought the Golden State Freeway “to a standstill. It was the first IKEA west of the Mississippi.” In the years since IKEA has not only “helped to make Burbank a shopping destination” but has also been a great supporter of the community. Among other activities, IKEA has established wellness centers for Burroughs and the Family Service Center. Last but not least, they made a major donation of furniture to the Chamber’s office building.
Burbank Chamber of Commerce Chair Gema Sanchez introduced the three Volunteers of the Year. Volunteer of the Year Don Baldaseroni became a Chamber Ambassador in 1987 and served on the Board of Directors for five years. His past community service extended to several other arenas: he had served as President of the Burbank Road Kings and Burbank Historical Society, had served as Chairperson of the Burbank Heritage Commission and had served as a committee member of Burbank on Parade. Don has been a member of the Burbank Elks Lodge for 42 years.
When Volunteer of the Year Jeanne Vlazny joined the Chamber in 1985, it didn’t take her long to make her mark. She and her company, Graphics Two, was key to reworking the Chamber logo at the time. She became a Chamber Ambassador in 1996 and sat on the Board of Directors from 2003 to 2008. Jeanne has been previously honored as Chamber Member of the Year and Small Business Person of the Year.
Volunteer of the Year Nancy Serpa has been active with the Chamber for the past 14 years and has served as a Chamber Ambassador for the past 12 years, being a regular at countless ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Sanchez particularly appreciates her “instrumental role in the planning of our gala. Her tireless commitment to securing auction items makes our Silent Auction a success every year.”
Earlier in the evening, IKEA, Burbank manager Jeff O’Shaughnessy was pointing out that the Burbank store was “the largest IKEA in North America” with many more parking spaces (1700) and better freeway ramp positioning than at its original location. When asked how smoothly the move went, O’Shaughnessy replied, “We’ve had a great relationship with the City of Burbank. They’ve been great business partners.”
That and a vibrant Burbank Chamber of Commerce are among the reasons the Burbank economy has been sitting tall in the saddle.
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