Throughout the year, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce serves the residents and business owners in the community directly and indirectly in its pursuit of economic development. Many people are confused by what exactly economic development is, and for good reason, as it can encompass so many different areas. In an effort to clarify some of the initiatives the Chamber is working on, lets outline a couple of principles of economic development.
One of the main tenets of economic development is to be competitive. As we watch some number of the surrounding communities announce initiative after initiative to make themselves more competitive, it is important for Manhattan Beach not to lose sight of the long term. El Segundo has recently announced they are seeking to change the name of Sepulveda to PCH in an effort to capitalize on the beach brand. While Manhattan Beach has talked about this change, do we really want to be the only beach city not onboard and having to explain why the street name changes three times in a 3 mile trip? Hermosa Beach is also exploring how to work with Caltrans to make PCH more pedestrian friendly. With PCH being the welcome many people first experience in the beach cities, shouldn’t we be working to make it as inviting as our downtown areas? Along the lines of competitive balance we are proud to say after many years and feedback from city council, the Chamber and the DBPA, the City has adopted a long term planning strategy for downtown.
A second component of economic development is understanding the global economy. The Chamber has been an advocate for making sure Manhattan Beach maintains and grows its reach in the regional economy. We have stood alongside the Manhattan Village as they have taken revision after revision to City Council and Planning Commission. Understanding that plans need to change to suit not only the business community but also the residents, we feel the Village continues to be receptive to everyone’s needs. The economies, especially in the retail sector, of the surrounding communities are in the process of growing by leaps and bounds. Standing still is not an option for Manhattan Beach if we desire to maintain the same level of tax base we enjoy today. Again the Chamber stood alongside one of our biggest businesses in town when we spoke on behalf of Manhattan Beach Toyota at City Council recently. Not only is Manhattan Beach Toyota one of the biggest single tax generators in this town, but also is one of the greatest reasons people come to visit the community. The impressions generated from their marketing is an instant win for the city of Manhattan Beach, regardless of whether someone buys a car or not. It was disturbing to watch one of planning commissioners say “I am convinced more than ever that you should move out of the Manhattan Beach”.
A third area of focus in economic development is learning. The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce is looking to not only learn and help the city learn what is needed, but also provide tools to those who wish to get in the game. Over the past couple of years the Chamber has brought on a new skill set with a refocused staff, building internal knowledge through attending seminars, and sought out subject matter experts. The Chamber has also developed a number of seminars for the community and its business leaders, bringing some of the most successful communities in Los Angeles County in to speak. With a revamped South Bay Business Leaders’ Summit, the Chamber brought subject matter experts from every walk of professional life. On July 11th we will again spearhead a discussion of where we need to go at our Economic Forum: South Bay 2020. After last year’s economic forum, council and members of the community were left asking how do we address zoning, leading to much discussion about the future.
While this is a small sampling of what the Chamber is doing, it is important to understand economic development is not accomplished overnight or without thought. There are members of community leadership who ask what is economic development and what are you doing for it. When you look at some of the above it lends some insight into the equation but there is so much more there. Over the past year the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce has generated more than 500,000,000 media impressions for this community. What does an impression amount to be? An average media impression costs .05 in print and more online the minimum would be $25 MM in advertising. Taking that same number a different way assuming a .1% conversion rate for a $50 purchase that is $25,000,000 in local spend.