The City and Chamber of Commerce have announced that this year the address will be broadcast instead of the annual luncheon.
Tom Flavin, CEO of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, has announced his retirement effective September 11. Flavin, who has served as CEO since April 2016, was instrumental in delivering improvements to the Chamber and in serving the business community of Burbank.
While CEO, Flavin conceived the Better Burbank Corporation (BBC), which works to strengthen
the Burbank economy by working in tandem with the Chamber of Commerce. Flavin was also a
passionate advocate for much-needed housing in Burbank, often speaking at City Council and
representing important projects.
“Tom has been a dynamic leader for the Chamber,” said board chair Karen Vopei-Gussow. “He
has made an enormous impact over the last four years and we wish him well in his retirement.”
Replacing him as a consulting interim CEO is Jamie Keyser Thomas, a community leader widely
known for her effectiveness who has been employed by The Walt Disney Company since 1991.
Keyser, who has led the Disney VoluntEARS Leadership Council, is a Leadership Burbank alumna
(and past chair). Through her professional and personal service, she has impacted practically
every significant non-profit and service organization in the City.
“I am excited to serve as a consultant during this interim,” Thomas said. “The Chamber
represents all types of businesses within Burbank, both large and small. I really want to help
them be strong in this devastating time of need.” “Jamie will be a dynamic asset to the Chamber,” Vopei-Gussow stated.
Flavin, a former City Councilman who also served as Burbank Mayor from 1990 to 1991, added, “I
have enjoyed renewing old Burbank acquaintances and making many new friends. Burbank
truly is a World-Class City on all counts.”
Thomas will start on September 8.
Every year, Burbank’s Chamber of Commerce holds the State of the City Address and 2019 saw a packed house at the Burbank Airport Marriott Conference Room Wednesday morning. Just about every leader in the City, both public and private was in attendance to hear about Burbank’s direction.
This was the second ‘official’ time for Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy with a third time being when she pinch-hit for an ailing Will Rogers. She was fully prepared and confident saying when asked what she wanted people to get out of this year’s presentation., “I would like people to redouble their pride in the city of Burbank which is a world-class city and I want to tell that story today. We have really lifted ourselves up in a way that us at the head of any city in this country so I want people to walk away feeling proud that Burbank is a world-class city.”
When asked about all the new projects and construction in the City, Gabel-Luddy responded, “All of it is to the good. Besides Disney and Warner Bros., Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, we now have Netflix coming and that was announced this week.”
There is also some concern, “We can’t forget about the people who are less fortunate than any of us, but that we have the engine and the power as an integrated media center to really develop the City to greater jobs, higher-level investment in our infrastructure and higher-level investment in our city services like police and fire.”
As for the future though, the Mayor seemed genuinely enthusiastic, ” As extraordinary as the burgeoning visitor industry here in the community of Burbank that we have more hotel rooms coming online, Warner Bros. will be developing their Second Century Project shortly with the Frank Gehry designed buildings so, besides the median synergies that are going on, there is iconic architecture that going to be built. We are going to have improvements in our transit and we are looking to get more housing in our community and at the same time we are not going to forget the people who are not as well off as any one of us is today.”
Burbank Chamber of Commerce CEO, Tom Flavin, was very direct when asked about his opinion on the day ahead. “Optimism about the future”. He feels it is important for the Chamber to be involved with the speech every year. “This is important to us and our members because it (State of the City) underscores our partnership with the city”
During her speech after lunch, Gabel-Luddy spoke to the assembled as she touted much of Burbank’s present saying over 2,00o film permits were granted this year which does not count what happens behind studio walls.
She also spoke about the impacts of passing Measures T and P, and the effect it has had already on the City, “Your Measure P funds are already hard at work. Our Public Works Department just finished its largest local/residential paving project the City has ever embarked upon. We have more than doubled our annual paving schedule, which now includes 180 local and residential and arterial City blocks, upgrading about 100 curb ramps and diverting approximately 150,000 discarded tires from landfills using rubberized asphalt.”
Of course, the homeless situation is a current crisis which she addressed by saying, “Last year, the City Council approved the homelessness implementation plan and we have had some success. We will use funds from a Measure H planning grant to establish a storage facility for a homeless person’s property. This will allow the City to enforce regulations that prevent the storage of personal items in the public right of way.
Partnerships are key in creating affordable housing that’s why we came together with Burbank Housing Corporation and Family Promise to rehabilitate a triplex for use as a transitional homeless facility. Additionally, we have partnered with the Downtown Business Improvement District to hire Street Plus for the downtown, including the Metro Link facility. Street Plus works with our police department’s Mental Health Evaluation Team and Ascencia, a non-profit homelessness organization, to connect those in need with available resources.”
Housing in Burbank is also an issue with the City Council setting a goal to build 12,000 units during the next 15 years, focusing on transportation corridors.
Construction has completed or expected to start already as she praised developments like the Talaria Project, which houses Whole Foods and 241 housing units and has been recogined with many awards.
“Recently approved is the First Street Village Mixed-use project across from the AMC Theaters. This project will result in the development of 275 housing units, 14 of these will be workforce affordable units along with first-floor commercial. We have other residential development proposals that will soon come to the City Council that include the La Terra Project at 777 Front Street with 573 units of housing and a 307-room hotel, and the proposed Premier on First that will result in 108 new housing units, retail, office and conference space along with a 314-room hotel.
The Marriott-brand AC hotel will soon start construction on 3rd Street across from the Colony Theater. It is estimated that it will contribute more than $1.7M in Transient Occupancy Tax to the general fund annually. Additionally, there are two hotels proposed adjacent to the existing Airport Marriott. These would include Aloft and Residence Inn brands totaling 420 rooms.”
In the end she went on to say what made Burbank a world-class city saying, “We protect our existing single-family neighborhoods while building responsibly. With your help, we are fiscally sound and are taking care of our current infrastructure. Burbank offers strong social networks through our diversity in population, backgrounds, and beliefs.
We are embracing change while determining our future through planning, setting goals and following through. We beautify our community with arts, culture, and entertainment. We also work with our many non-profits who provide much-needed services the City itself can’t offer.”
There was also a video presentation shot and edited by the City’s Public Information Office that was as well shot and edited as many shows that you see from the studios who dot our community.
Are there still problems to be worked out in the City, yes. And while the outlook of the State of the City left a positive taste, it will take much work in the future to obtain all of the goals.
Editior’s Note: October 25 at 5:00 pm – We now have the video shown at the State of the City Address – you can watch below
Over 250 people gathered on Thursday morning at the new Ikea in Burbank to hear about the digital and technological future in store for Burbank in the surrounding areas in the future.
Burbank’s Chamber of Commerce presented the summit that brought out many industry leaders from finance, health care, along with digital and streaming technologies in today’s entertainment landscape.
Tom Flavin, Burbank Chamber of Commerce CEO was the Master of Ceremonies for the day and presented a strong line-up.
First up was Ikea Store Manager Jeff O’Shaughnessy who hosted the breakfast and taunted his largest in the USA Ikea Store. He talked of some of the advancements in building the store in more of a green environmental footprint to the area.
Bank of America’s Barbara Bagley gave an economic forecast as to where they see the economy headed and where it has been. Talk about the latest tariffs and what it is doing the economy was prominent in her forecasting of both the present and the future. She remained optimistic.
A presentation followed about “How Southern California Could be the Next Great Tech Ecosystem & What You Can Do in Your Community to Make This a Reality” by Andy Wilson and Eric Eide of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation.
They forecast that the average person will touch technology 4,900 times per day and once about every 18 seconds. Things such as E-Sports, Smart Homes and increased mobility through electric vehicles, which he expects to double in the next three years, will soon be upon us.
Speakers wanted to point out that cybersecurity is one of the largest concerns facing everyone right now and will be a constant battle for years to come.
Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy was next to speak and touted One-Burbank which offers Burbank businesses reliable fiber networking services which will allow Burbank businesses incredibly quick speeds to securely share data, video, and voice traffic at speeds of 20 MBPS to one GBPS without costly additional equipment.
Burbank’s Mayor also pointed out that thanks to the voter improved additional sales tax, that the City’s in a great position for years to come to improve infrastructure and fund pensions.
The last part of the summit included a panel discussion entitled, ” The Technology Future is Now in Burbank”. David Knight of the Chamber’s Board moderated the panel which included: Matthew Deuel from Walt Disney, Pam Allison of Warner Bros., Christine Rodriguez of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Evan Rogers of Petrol Advertising and Max Lopex of Apartment D.
Among the panel, the largest consensus was that expanding content, the use of virtual reality and the implementation of 5G technology is currently here now but only in its infancy. Social Media platforms and streaming content will become much more mainstream, whether it is in E-Sports of just recorded content.
Charles “Bud” Alleman, a Partner with KKAJ, LLP – Certified Public Accountants and Burbank Chamber Board Member, was very happy with the summit, “Tom Flavin has brought new life into the Chamber. The panel was excellent, with new advances coming, innovation will follow.”
Burbank City Councilmember Sharon Springer commented, “This was a great inaugural event, the panel was informative and very knowledgeable.
There was a lot to keep in mind moving forward”.
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.
To purchase pictures from this event follow this link: https://rossbensonphotography.photoreflect.com/store/thumbpage.aspx?e=10219214&au=11855001FC446BC761213E726E785B8B77AA5230DE2F9693EB95BB426578EBF8F5E8416C7F89CADA
The Burbank Chamber of Commerce has launched a search for an executive director to succeed Gary Olson, who retired at the end of 2015.
A special committee of the Board of Directors has convened to ensure a seamless transition and selection process for the new executive director. Board Chair Nancy Guillen oversees the seven-member committee, which has engaged the consulting firm McIntyre-St. Clair LLC to provide leadership transition services, conduct the executive search, and develop a strategic plan.
The Burbank Chamber will continue normal operations during the search and transition period.
Under Olson’s leadership, the Burbank Chamber developed strong civic and community ties that resulted in financial stability during a severe economic downturn. The Burbank Chamber is the largest chamber in the San Fernando Valley, representing approximately 1,000 member businesses with an estimated 33,000 employees.
The Chamber advocates for members on a broad range of economic issues by maintaining a close and productive relationship with the City of Burbank. The Chamber also acts as a political advocate for member businesses at the regional, state, and federal levels. Additional member benefits include strategic partnership initiatives, access to extensive networking opportunities, small-business programs and referral services, and money-saving purchasing programs.
At the 2016 Annual Chamber Gala this coming April, Olson will be honored for his 11 years of leadership as the Executive Director of the Chamber.
Olson’s past honors include the San Fernando Valley Business Journal Not-for-Profit Leadership Award and Woodbury University’s Movers & Shapers Award. Prior to assuming his executive position with the Chamber, Olson was a Vice President of the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries. During that time, Olson was elected three times to serve as Chair of the Chamber Board.
He previously owned The Sales Factory Inc., with offices in Seattle, Oakland, and Glendale representing consumer product lines to major grocery, drug, and mass merchandiser chains. Olson also served as vice president of his family’s toiletries manufacturing company, which his father owned and operated in Glendale for 55 years.
In retirement, Olson and his wife Sharon will live in Indio.
“NBC wants to do a reality show based on Colleen and me,” deadpanned Fritz Coleman. “But they want to up the tension and make me a ‘weatherman in transition.’ I said yes, but only if I can pick out my new clothes.”
Fritz was the guest of honor last Friday evening at the Burbank Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala, held at the Marriott Burbank Hotel Convention Center. The witty weathercaster took the occasion to banter with longtime friends, reminding several hundred Burbank notables that he’s also a veteran stand up comedian.
Popular news anchor Colleen Williams has been Fritz’s NBC4 partner for the past 23 years. “It’s been the longest successful relationship I’ve ever had,” said Fritz. “And the least costly.” And as Colleen rushed out of the banquet room to cover some item of late breaking news Fritz quipped, “There’s a chalk body outline somewhere.”
“Our gala’s a fun event,” said Chamber Executive Director Gary Olson. “The silent auction items are priced for friendly competition and the entertainment’s upbeat.” (As Barry Lamster Entertainment and The Showcase Singers amply demonstrated.) But this year, the Chamber wanted to do something extra special. So when Fritz indicated that he was receptive to being on the honoree hot seat, “the Board was thrilled.”
Fritz did have some trepidation, though. “I’m shocked even to be here after NBC deserted Burbank. I feel like Edward Snowden,” he confessed to the guffawing crowd.
But the audience of Burbank movers and shakers knew well that Fritz’s association with Burbank goes all the way back to 1982, shortly after he escaped from Buffalo– a place that makes more weather than it can consume locally. He joined NBC4 as the weekend weather soothsayer in 1982 then moved into weekdays in 1984.
Fritz, who had been working as a well-received stand up comedian before joining NBC4, found his new gig to be very congenial. Where else in the country but LA would there be a “storm watch” because the land might be inundated with a whole inch of rain? (Ah, the good old days.) His TV audience found Fritz to be very congenial in turn, making him a Southern California broadcasting icon. Practically every major newspaper in the region has hailed him as “Best Weather caster.”
While in Burbank, Fritz made quite a few friends. He knew Bud Ovrom when he was Burbank’s City Manager, long before Bud was to serve under future LA Mayor Antonio Villagarosa and “arrange for the Mayor’s tanning salon appointments.”
He knew close friend Jack O’Neill for many of his “75 years with NBC,” before he left to dress like the Godfather and work with the Hope family. He remembered when former Mayor Bill Wiggins “was the model for the Big Boy set.” And he even remembered Burbank Mayor David Gordon’s “brilliant campaign speech” when he promised to “give Burbank what it needs—a colonoscopy.”
All kidding aside, Fritz has been a great fan of Burbank. Fritz raised two sons and a daughter in Burbank while involving himself in many charitable activities. He’s entertained or emceed at countless local service and civic organizations within Burbank and throughout Southern California.
He’s been a long time supporter of the Salvation Army, has helped run academic decathlons, has supported adult literacy programs and has championed arts education. (And Wiki notes that Fritz received the 2004 EMA Community Service Award for his involvement with NBC’s 4 Our Planet, a children’s program.)
So it was more than fitting that Gary Olson declared Fritz to now be a lifetime member of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Gordon “was very pleased” to present Fritz with the keys of the city, representing “the first opportunity he had to honor someone in this fashion.”
For his part, Fritz thanked NBC for the Burbank memories: trading jokes on The Tonight Show, appearing in many series and specials for NBC4, clowning with Bob Hope, presiding over the aforementioned “storm watches” and pretending that LA actually has four seasons. Concludes Fritz, “All of the great memories of my career took place in Burbank at 3000 Alameda Avenue.”
When engaging in raillery with Board Chairman Eric Foster, Emcee and Chamber Board member Sunder Ramani presented Fritz with several proclamations from elected officials. The one from Congressman Adam Schiff, which will be read into the Congressional Record, perhaps says it all: “It’s a great honor to call Fritz a friend.”
To see Fritz in weathercasting action, watch NBC4 News at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. To learn more about Fritz, please visit http://www.nbclosangeles.com/on-air/about-us/Fritz_Coleman_.html
Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy presented her State of the City address to a packed house at the Airport Marriott Wednesday in the annual event sponsored by Burbank’s Chamber of Commerce.
Since 2008, other Mayors have had to go in front of the local business community and try and sound positive about the downturn of 2008, although the theme was usually about some budget cuts that would have to be made to balance the budget.
Finally in 2013, Gabel-Luddy was able to not only the business leaders that things were looking better, but that the City of Burbank now has a projected balanced budget through 2018.
Her presentation was split into three sections and moved quickly while giving out the necessary information. The first part was in the form of a speech where the Mayor talked about the previous year and some of the turmoil that was beginning top end. The hiring or a permanent Police and Fire Chief, as well as Community Development Department Head.
“Burbank’s financial status is strong, with Standards & Poor’s giving the City a AAA Rating”, said the Mayor, “and that is something that is earned and not just given”.
City revenue’s are also on the rebound with home prices in Burbank helping. The average home price in Burbank is close to $530,000 compared the average in Los Angeles County which is $377,000 and unemployment in Burbank is currently at 8.4%.
She also went on to talk about the improvements in Burbank’s infrastructure including the money earmarked for repaving streets, Johnny Carson Park, Northwest Library, and Verdugo Park’s Pool as well as the Reservoir #1 which is just about complete.
After a short video, she then asked a few questions to attendees including a not so surprised City manager.
Newly hired City Manager Mark Scott showed that he already fees at ease in his new position and his experience shows. Not only did he seem comfortable talking to the movers and shakers that make up the Burbank business community, he was able to inject a little humor when it came to his surprise at being picked from the crowded room.
Scott commented about the small city feel of Burbank and commented that his has realized that everyone in Burbank went to one of the schools here and that people have a deep concern for the City. He also stressed that he looked to help businesses maintain their employment levels and stressed how he wanted to work with the many small businesses in Burbank.
Developer Michael Cusumano also spoke on the Downtown Businesses and their recent successful events as well as the future. The members Downtown Burbank Partnership have been working tirelessly to attract business to the downtown area for years.
Gabel-Luddy showed that in her term as Mayor, it is all about the flow of information that can make a successful State of the City address, not the length that some would lose interest in.
Community Chevrolet of Burbank celebrated the Grand re-opening of their state-of-the-art dealership by hosting the Burbank Chamber of Commerce mixer on April 25th.
The event was hosted by Fred Bell , President of Community Chevrolet and his wife Janet.
The $2.7 million project was a great addition to revitalizing Burbank and to it’s future business.
In attendance were Chamber members, several City of Burbank officials, representatives of Chevrolet, customers and the staff of the dealership. Community has been in Burbank since 1959 and for over 54 years and is family owned and operated.
Music was provided by the Burbank High School student Jazz Band and a fun time was had by all.
“This is a rebirth of a new generation and future at the dealership honoring previous values and traditions” states Bell. “We are proud of Burbank, supporting our Community and establishing long term relationships with our customers” .
The Burbank Chamber of Commerce held it’s yearly Gala event this past weekend at The Sheraton Universal’s Grand Ballroom, and the theme was Party Gras. There were masks, beads and plenty of color.
The evening started off with a silent auction with tickets to ball games, trips to anywhere in the United States and hundreds of other items, plus a cheese spread. Guests were able to have their portrait pictures taken before they entered.
Once the doors to the main ballroom opened, there were several Vegas style gambling tables set up for the evening’s fun and entertainment. Dinner tables of 10 were paid for by major Sponsors such as The French Quarter, which was hosted by the Walt
Disney Company, Bourbon Street table hosted by NBC
Universal, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.and Woodbury University, Basin Street hosted by Bob Hope Airport, Burbank Water and Power, Community Bank, Crown Realty & Development Inc., Patterson Graphics Corp., Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Walmart, and Canal Street hosted by Peterson Bradford Burkwitz LLP.