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2 Southland Trade Centers Make Peace : L.A., Long Beach Unite, Form Single Membership Organization

Times Staff Writer

Where is Los Angeles’ World Trade Center?

Some say it’s in Long Beach. Others say it’s in downtown Los Angeles. There are buildings called World Trade Centers in both.

The longtime confusion may be coming to an end. The Greater Los Angeles World Trade Center in Long Beach and the Los Angeles World Trade Center have banded together to form one membership organization: the Greater Los Angeles World Trade Center Assn.

A member of the association is entitled to participate in trade-related activities and programs offered at both facilities. The centers will cooperate, not compete, with each other, officials maintain.

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“This is the only place in the world where we have two centers in one county,” explained Robert Rivinius, president of the association.

“What’s unique about it is that we can serve the whole region. Now that we have two sites, we have offices in both. . . . In a large geographic region, there is a lot of benefit to having two. It doubles accessibility.”

The compromise settles a controversy touched off last September when Haseko (California) Inc. applied to have its downtown building at Third and Figueroa reinstated as an official World Trade Center. It had been stripped of its affiliation with the global World Trade Centers Assn. in 1983 because its programs had dwindled.

New York Had the Idea

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Haseko’s application came as the first tenants moved into the newly completed Greater Los Angeles World Center in Long Beach, part of a $550-million project. Haseko’s bid raised the question of whether Southern California needed another trade center when such entities were established or under study in Orange County, Oxnard, Pomona and San Diego.

“We’re very satisfied,” said James Garrigus, vice president at Haseko, of the single membership group. “The idea came from the headquarters association back in New York. It’s almost a model for them to use in other areas. There are so many trade centers now, they are almost doubling up (in some areas), but not in a bad way.” Haseko’s building was reinstated as an official World Trade Center last November.

Paul Fabry of New Orleans, one of the founders of the World Trade Centers movement, said the arrangement between the Long Beach and Los Angeles facilities is “unique and will set an important precedent worldwide.”

As Garrigus explained: “We don’t have two organizations out there vying for membership. Picture two pieces of hardware and one piece of software. We have two buildings, but they have one entity: the Greater Los Angeles Trade Center Assn., which is a service organization.” He explained, “They are well staffed, and we didn’t want to duplicate another staff.”

Rivinius said there are 340 members in the organization. “Our goal within a year and half is to double that. We feel that we certainly could have 600 to 700 members without too much problem.”


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