The Burbank Chamber of Commerce held its annual State of the City Address & Luncheon at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport hotel on Thursday, Oct. 20.
The 2022 gathering, entitled “When A City Comes Together,” consisted of over 650 people convening to reflect on the dedicated work and progress of Burbank professionals over the past year, as well as to address the city’s future trajectory. Representatives of nonprofit organizations and service clubs, local government officials, employees from the Burbank Unified School District, small businesses owners, residents and media personnel showed up to network and connect with fellow community members at the get-together.
Mayor of Burbank Jess Talamantes hosted State of the City, and City Councilmembers Sharon Springer, Bob Frutos and Konstantine Anthony attended. Councilmember Nick Schultz was absent prior to announcing on his Twitter account later in the afternoon that he and his wife had just welcomed a son.
Springer discussed her appreciation in once again witnessing Burbankers assemble with the collective interest of forging ahead on an ambitious path.
“Thank you to the Chamber for always hosting this informative, inspiring event and to Mayor Talamantes for his service to Burbank,” Springer said. “I am always grateful for this time to reunite with businesses, friends, and collaborators who share a common goal of moving Burbank forward in a positive way so that our entire community thrives and no one is left behind.”
The City of Burbank, Cusumano Real Estate Group, Disney, Comcast NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Burbank Water and Power, and Warner Bros. were among the sponsors of the event.
The festivites began with a welcome from Chamber of Commerce CEO Jamie Keyser Thomas, who took the opportunity to highlight Burbank small businesses. As Keyser Thomas referenced, Chamber initiatives like the Chow Down Burbank! campaign, which has aided local restaurants in recovering from the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stressed the significance of homegrown enterprises in forming a foundation for the city.
“All of these groups create the fabric of this incredible city,” Keyser Thomas said. “As we drive the streets of Burbank, we see so many small businesses. It’s important to recognize the tireless work that virtually each storefront represents, and someone who gave up a paycheck to create paychecks for their small team.”
Keyser Thomas then introduced Rev. Brandon Johnson of the First Christian Church of Burbank. Following Johnson leading a moment of “prayer, reflection or meditation,” a captivating A cppella performance of the national anthem was sung by the Neo Chromatics group of the John Burroughs High School Powerhouse choir. In addition, U.S. Army color guards carried out a presentation of colors ceremony.
Chamber Chair of the Board Steve Mora spoke before the crowd, and Talamantes next gave an in-depth presentation on the current conditions of the city. As the longtime Burbank politician addressed listeners, he reminded everyone of the overall congruent vision possessed by the luncheon attendees.
“I want you all to look around the room. There are people in here from all walks of life,” Talamantes said. “Different backgrounds, different experiences, and different professions – but we all share a common purpose, a shared goal to protect, provide, and always improve our lives and the lives of those around us. This is what makes Burbank a great community.”
A video was played that showcased key players in features that are unique to the city, including the Streetplus team of the Downtown Burbank Property-Based Business Improvement District. The Burbank Farmers Market, clothing provider Unique Vintage, and service agency Home Again L.A., among others, were also celebrated in the recording.
A number of the city’s achievements in the last 12 months were outlined by Talamantes.
Some of these were the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department implementing the Park and Play program, the Burbank Public Library hiring a social worker, and the Burbank Fire Department and Burbank Police Department continuing their exemplary emergency response times. Additionally, Talamantes brought attention to the BPD’s Mental Health Awareness Program and high school driver’s education curriculum.
The benefits of initiatives such as the Burbank Public Works Department’s substantial street resurfacing undertaking, the Our Burbank app, Avion Burbank, the Warner Bros. Second Century project, the Jaromir Strizka Emergency Department of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, and upcoming residential developments were cited in the presentation.
Talamantes took a moment to recognize the Burbank Community YMCA Social Impact Center, the Downtown Burbank Cultural Market, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the BUSD as examples of advancements being made in regards to embracing all Burbank community members.
“We’re making tremendous strides in Burbank and continuing to grow, from ensuring a great quality of life to top-notch city services, reliable infrastructure, sustainability and growing economic development,” Talamantes said. “We value it all, and I’m proud to share that my fellow colleagues and I have put a major emphasis on the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion in our city.”
“So much of what is accomplished can be attributed to the fact that all our departments work well together under the shared goal of serving you, the community,” Talamantes added.
This year’s State of the City was the final occasion in which Talamantes and Frutos participated as Burbank government officials, as the two have elected to walk away from the Council after the completion of their current terms. Talamantes has hosted State of the City on four total occasions. As he nears the end of his position with the Burbank City Council, which began in 2009, Talamantes describes this last hosting duty as “bittersweet” and filled with “mixed emotions.” Throughout his decades of public service, which includes over 30 years as a Burbank Fire Department firefighter, Talamantes explained that he has remained focused on improving the conditions of the community.
“I was involved with the Boy Scouts for a long time,” Talamantes said. “So there’s a saying in scouting: you always leave the campground, or wherever you are, better than you found it. And I feel like I’m doing that with the city; I’m leaving it better than I found it.”
Keyser Thomas returned to the stage and provided the closing remarks of the ceremony. The Chamber of Commerce leader opened up about the value in bringing a variety of local business people together to review the successes of the City of Burbank, as well as what objectives lie ahead.
“It’s not just about the big businesses that can afford large sponsorships to come to the event,” Keyser Thomas said. “We really wanted to paint a picture and be true to the theme, ‘When A City Comes Together,’ on who all was here. So we have representation from our small businesses, our nonprofits, our school board, faith-based, our government officials, and that’s truly the landscape of our amazing City of Burbank.”
“Just seeing everyone that was here today speaks volumes to who we are as a community,” Keyser Thomas added.