West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (WHCC), in partnership with the City of West Hollywood, hosted West Hollywood’s “State of The City: City Planning Through the Lens of Small Business Solutions”, on Wednesday, June 28, at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood at 8490 W Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
The event, which is a Chamber fundraiser, was a gathering of the business community in and outside of West Hollywood for a presentation on the State of The City. The event was hosted by West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Chair David Wood, and President and CEO Genevieve Morrill, who welcomed to the stage West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne and City Manager David Wilson to speak about the City’s economic and social climate, new initiatives, and vision of growth for West Hollywood.
West Hollywood council members Lauren Meister, John Heilman and Chelsea Byers joined Mayor Shyne and City Staff at the City of West Hollywood table (Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson was not able to make it). California State Assembly Member Rick Zbur and Davis Han, the District Representative for State Senator Ben Allen were also among those in attendance.
Mayor Sepi Shyne spoke of the upcoming Small Business Summit this fall in partnership with State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s office. She also spoke of the City’s newly formed Social Justice Advisory Board which will focus on economic development, housing affordability, social services and community safety. It will explore a business incubator program marketed primarily by POC entrepreneurs and business owners.
Manager David Wilson gave a report on the City revenue growth over the past decades and how the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative effect on revenue so there was a deficit in 2020 and 2021. “During that time, the city implemented new revenue sources, we cut expenditures where we could while still providing the much needed services that the West Hollywood community deserves,” he said. “We prudent financial management and a little luck, the city recovered much quickly must other jurisdictions. We saw an increase to 135 million dollars in revenue in the year 2023 and that does not include federal and statement reimbursements for COVID related losses that increase to 140 Million in fiscal year 2024. We are projecting over 150 million dollars in revenue in our currently adopted fiscal year 2023/2024 budget.”
Sherri Franklin, Founder and President of Urban Design Center and partner in GOAT Global will lead a panel discussion about how cities need to adjust to attract and sustain small unique independent businesses in increasingly challenging economic environments. Panelists included Stephen Cheung, President and CEO LAEDC; Jackie Rocco, Deputy City Manager City of West Hollywood; John Terzian, co-founder, h.wood Group; and Eddie Navarrette, Owner of FE Design and Executive Director of the Independent Hospitality Coalition. The panel covered topics related to small business challenges, emerging models, obstacles and opportunities in today’s context, small business economics and growth opportunities, how cities look at infrastructure, zoning, and codes and fees with small businesses in mind.
The highlight of the luncheon the honoring of Jason Illoulian the CEO of Faring, who was presented with the inaugural Ed Levin Award for design excellence, in memory and honor of the long time Chamber Member, West Hollywood resident, volunteer who passed away last year. Current Faring projects include 9176 Sunset Boulevard – the first all-electric Class A building in city history – and Robertson Lane, home to the historic Studio One/Factory Building.
State Assembly Member Rick Zbur present Illoulian with a certificate of recognition from being honored the City of West Hollywood and the Chamber of Commerce.
Founded in 1921, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6), non-profit organization which supports and promotes a community environment where commerce can flourish. The Chamber fosters prosperity and champions local business by providing resources and leadership to advance activity through economic development. We advocate and represent business interests to the government, while enhancing the quality of community life and promoting the uniqueness of West Hollywood.