There are over 125 chambers of commerce in L.A. County, each providing programs and services to help their business communities succeed. This year’s top 25 chambers, ranked by 1997 budget, represent a geographical cross-section of the county. Some represent entire regions, like the L.A. Area Chamber, while others, like the Italy-America Chamber, serve a very specific business or ethnic community.
Membership is down at some of the area’s bigger chambers. The L.A. Area Chamber stands at 1,600 members, down from 1,800 at this time last year. Membership at the Glendale Chamber is also down 200, to 1,300. The Santa Monica Chamber has seen its membership decline from 1,100 to 992 during the past year. The two chambers that have experienced the most significant membership growth on the List are the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber, up 23 percent from last year, and the Long Beach Chamber, up 11 percent from last year.
A few chambers on the List had large budget increases in 1997. The Industry Manufacturers Council in the City of Industry saw a budget increase of 45 percent over last year. The Hollywood Chamber’s budget increased 40 percent and West Hollywood’s Chamber had 37 percent more money to work with this year.
Though its membership has been dipping for the last few years, The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce still has the richest purse by far of any chamber in the county. With a total budget of just over $4 million in 1997, the chamber’s mission is to strengthen the local economy through programs that promote the business community. The chamber also has a large legislative affairs department. For 1998, the chamber’s priority issues will be transportation funding, water reliability and availability, local government reform and the process of putting welfare recipients to work.
Drawing members from five counties in Southern California, the L.A. Area Chamber has been around since 1888. Ezunial Burts, former executive director of the Port of L.A., has been president of the organization since last January. Alison Winter, president and chief executive of Northern Trust Bank of California, begins her term as chairwoman on Jan. 1.