Council Liaisons Recommend Revised Budget for Chamber

A City Council Liaison/Chamber of Commerce meeting recommended amending an agreement between the city and the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce that will reduce funding for the Chamber by $213,505 for the current fiscal year. The revised new total is not to exceed the amount of $327,025 for fiscal year 2022-2023.

Those present at the March 13 meeting, led by Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse and Vice Mayor Julian Gold, explained that two of the significant programming items on the work plan developed by the Chamber of Commerce for this year–the New York Business Attraction and Retention Mission and the Miami Attraction and Retention Mission–did not occur.

Each year, the Chamber, in partnership with the city, travels to cities, including New York and San Francisco, to scout new businesses to bring into Beverly Hills. Representatives of the Chamber, along with the city’s elected officials and city manager, also meet with businesses currently operating in the city for retention purposes. The trips are a flurry of activity, typically with 24 meetings occurring over the course of three days with high-end companies including LVMH, Ralph Lauren, and Chanel.

This year, the Chamber was unprepared for the New York trip, which was scheduled for October 2022, as well as the Miami trip, which was scheduled to take place this month, according to Todd Johnson, the President and CEO of the Chamber. Speaking of the New York trip, he said, “we weren’t on track” to meet the needs for a successful trip; regarding Miami, “I was in the midst of hiring personnel,” Johnson said.

“We want to over deliver and under promise,” Johnson told the Courier. “We have a good reputation; we want to maintain that. Our partnership with the city is very important. We always make sure we deliver on what we say we’re going to do, or adjust accordingly. At the end of the day, we will make it work.”

In addition to the trips, the the budget was reduced because of an early termination of a contract with Buxton Economic Development Support Database, which provides data from Visa and mobile analytics for targeted business attraction outreach efforts.

The original budget for the New York trip was $112,300; the original budget for the Miami trip was $79,500; and the original budget for the Buxton contract was $42,550. The revised budget for the Buxton contract is $20,925.

“We’re on track to be caught up,” Johnson said.

Johnson delivered a brief presentation that also offered details about the Chamber’s revised work plan for the fiscal year.

Providing an update on Now Beverly Hills, a Chamber and city program that encourages residents to shop locally, Johnson said the Chamber has completed more than 275 social posts, highlighted 21 business profiles, distributed more than 10 newsletters and executed half of its marketing campaign goals.

The Chamber has thus far facilitated half of its proposed property owner task force meetings as well as half of the small business task force meetings, he said.

To date, the Chamber has received $191,411 for programs and duties that include marketing and outreach support for city and partner events, functions and services, property owner and small business task forces, broker’s roundtables and regional business attraction.

With the amendment and subsequent revised budget set to take effect, the remaining balance in the Chamber’s budget this fiscal year is $135,614.

The new work plan also includes a revised payment schedule. Whereas prior payments were provided before programs were completed, future payments owed to the Chamber, with the amendment put in place, will not be paid as an advance; instead, it will paid based on actual work completed and schedule to be completed by June 30.

“Any portion of work not completed … will not be invoiced by the chamber or paid by the city,” the amended agreement says.

Additionally, any funding unused by the Chamber will be returned to the city, the amendment states.

Asked by Gold if he was okay with the revisions in the agreement, Johnson–who has led the Chamber on eight previous business recruitment trips–answered in the affirmative.