The 70-year-old West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce has been fostering business relationships and community appreciation through referral, advocacy, and education. The chamber represents 20,000 businesses and 200,000 households on the Westside, with borders surrounding West Beverly Hills, South Culver City, East Pacific Coast Highway, and the North 101 Freeway, excluding Century City and Santa Monica. Santa Monica Mirror caught up with Chamber President Roozbeh Farahanipour to learn more about the member organization, including their stance on divestments, minimum wage, and sidewalk vendors.
What makes your Chamber unique?
West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (WLACC) is a pro-business community organization designed to protect our local businesses. We are active in local, state, and national politics to protect our businesses within our borders, and we always have a voice on any legislation against businesses. We are working also to encourage international businesses to become involved in our community.
What top industries do members come from?
We have three main categories:
A. Services like international investors and financial advisors, insurance agencies, real estate brokers, and law offices;
B. International corporations, shopping centers, and franchise companies; and
C. Small local businesses.
Would you say it’s mostly family businesses or corporate professionals?
We do have both, and WLACC cares about both categories equally.
What are the benefits of being a member of the West L.A. Chamber of Commerce?
The WLACC Mission Statement explains it best: “The mission of the West L.A. Chamber is to enhance opportunities for members of the West Los Angeles business community through referral, advocacy, and education.” And as part of member benefits, WLACC provides opportunities for the “referral” part of that statement. Though the purpose of networking is not to try to close sales, it is to meet and build relationships with like-minded professionals with whom you can work together to help each other’s businesses grow. That may be by doing business together directly or by passing qualified referrals to each other.
What policies is the Chamber advocating for in West L.A. today?
We are a pro-business community organization, while at the same time we follow divestment and sanctions against states that sponsor acts of terrorism and countries that support terrorist organizations.
What are the biggest concerns among members?
Citywide minimum wage increase, gasoline tax increase, sidewalk vendors, and the Right to Rest Act in the state assembly, all of which are currently hurting local businesses.
What is the Chamber’s position on the minimum wage increase?
WLACC is against the minimum wage increase because it will hurt all of local and small businesses.
What are some events or programs your Chamber is currently promoting?
We do have four different monthly events:
A. First Wednesday’s Breakfast we usually have a politician as our guest and also we do have table networking in benefit of our members. Our next guest will be Council General of Canada, James Villeneuve, on Oct. 7, and our past speakers have been the City Controller, City Librarian, City Council Member Paul Koretz, City Attorney, Insurance Commissioner of California, and Consul General of Israel.
B. An After Hours Mixer, where we usually have a local celebrity as our guest. This event is the third Thursday of each month.
C. Authors Club on the last Monday of every month, where we feature a local or national author. One of our Board of Directors and WLACC CFO, Elham Yaghoubian, is in charge of this program.
D. Westside Women’s Network will be another monthly event hosted by our Ambassador Barbara Schmalz.
Also, we perform events like Ribbon Cuttings for new businesses and celebrate anniversaries of businesses within our borders. We also are partner with Walk for Warriors annually and will walk to support our veterans.
How have you seen the area change over the years?
After the recession, our businesses were badly hurt, and many local retailers and restaurants became out-of-business. We are trying and working with our community leaders; HOA’s; local officials on one hand; and international companies, financial advisors, and real estate brokers on the other hand to not only restore these damages but also upgrade and move them to next level. Our community is wealthy and deserves the best business community.
What is your vision for the future of West L.A.?
Our goal is to have West Los Angeles as the starting point for international businesses to becoming involved in California. We Love West L.A.
To keep up with the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, visit them at www.facebook.com/wlacc.