City personnel and local business people gathered at the Burbank Marriott Hotel for the Burbank Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City Address & Luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
500 people were present at the luncheon, and appearances were made by Burbank City Council Members Sharon Springer, Nick Schultz, Konstantine Anthony, and Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, as well as Burbank Chamber of Commerce CEO Jamie Keyser Thomas. In addition, actress of NBC’s “La Brea” and Burbank native Veronica St. Clair, as well as KTLA 5 Morning News correspondent Lynette Romero were in attendance.
The event, which was themed “The Town Behind the Tinsel” to emphasize Burbank’s importance in the entertainment industry, began with an invocation from Fr. Francis Mendoza of St. Finbar Church. This was followed by a flag presentation from the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and a rendition of the National Anthem sung by performer and recording artist Lisa Donahey.
Burbank Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Steve Mora addressed the audience with a chamber update for the occasion. In his speech, Mora thanked Burbank city officials and representatives, staff members of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, as well as personnel of Burbank Water and Power, the Burbank Police Department and Burbank Fire Department, the city’s Public Works Department, and the Burbank Unified School District for their collective efforts in maintaining Burbank’s top-level services for the community. He also mentioned the positive local impact of the Burbank Young Professionals, which is a program that connects young professionals throughout the community through networking mixers, workshops, and volunteer efforts that provide assistance to Burbank nonprofits.
“I’ve been coming to work in Burbank now for more than four decades,” Mora said. “I still love what I do and I love where I do it, [in] Burbank. It’s the greatest place to do business in the country with the greatest people. We are a community that genuinely cares about each other, go out of our way to help one another and always make time for each other. Thank you for taking the time to be with us here today.”
A State of the City Address was next provided by Mayor of Burbank Bob Frutos, who discussed the Burbank City Council’s top five priorities for the city. These are a focus on economic recovery and development, homeless initiatives, sustainability, city services, and a strong quality of life. Some beneficial local programs Frutos discussed in his lively presentation include the Burbank Police Department Mental Health Evaluation Team, the city’s ongoing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Reduction Plan, Burbank Nutrition Services offered by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and the city and chamber’s Chow Down Burbank initiative, which has utilized resources to showcase local restaurants as they continue to recover from the pandemic.
Another feature of Burbank that was highlighted by Frutos is the city’s significant contributions to the world of entertainment. During a pre-recorded video portion of Frutos’ presentation, he visited the local Nickelodeon Studios and stop-motion animation company Apartment D to discuss their creative endeavors. Frutos spoke with cartoon characters SpongeBob Squarepants and Patrick Star was covered with Nickelodeon’s classic green slime and was turned into a stop-motion animation character by Max Lopez and animators at Apartment D in the video.
“I’m so proud of our city,” Frutos said during his speech. “We are the town behind the tinsel. We create magic through hard work and imagination and we share it with the world.”
The event was concluded with a thank you message from Keyser Thomas, who acknowledged her satisfaction in including a variety of guests in the gathering, such as BUSD representatives, nonprofit staff members, service club members, and more. She further cited exciting developments in the city, such as Netflix and Amazon facilities operating out of Burbank.
“We’re really trying at the chamber now to paint a picture of what our community looks like and all businesses are very important to the landscape of where we’re at,” Keyser Thomas said. “We’re thrilled that Mayor Bob Frutos has the opportunity to talk to us about what’s been going on within the City of Burbank for the past year. [We’ve had] challenging times in a pandemic, but we’re coming out of it…we’re really excited about where Burbank is going as we recover from all this and we’re very excited that the chamber and the city are working collaboratively together and can really build something significant.”
Following challenging times faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the luncheon provided a strong overview of the various positive aspects of the City of Burbank. Frutos expressed his optimism for the future of the city as the community displayed their enthusiasm for Burbank through the large audience turnout and engagement.
“I’m excited because this is over 500 people that took their time out of the day to see what’s going on in their city,” Frutos said. “These are the business community, the nonprofits, the movers and shakers that are looking at, what’s the council doing, the structure of governance of the city because they’re interested in the success of the city. [It’s] positive energy [and] good vibes.”