The Burbank Chamber of Commerce in January will launch a new nonprofit to help build and support the city’s job base.
The goals for the Better Burbank Corp. include attracting new businesses to the city and retaining the ones that are here, said Tom Flavin, the chief executive of the local chamber.
Flavin, a Burbank native and former mayor, said he recognizes how strong the city’s job base is, even after then-Lockheed Corp. decided to leave for Georgia in the mid-1990s.
He himself moved out of Burbank in 1994 and lived and worked in Colorado, Seattle, Palm Springs and Ventura. After moving back to his hometown in 2014, Flavin said it was apparent how much more robust Burbank’s job base is compared to the other cities he’s lived in.
“I’m very impressed with the caliber of companies I’m seeing,” Flavin said. “I and the Chamber have recognized that we don’t want to take our employers for granted because there’s a lot of competition for these jobs.”
One objective for the Better Burbank Corp. will be to provide one-on-one assistance with employers that are looking to keep their business within the city.
The nonprofit also aims to help the city grow the city’s General Fund tax base. Flavin said Measure P — an upcoming ballot initiative that asks Burbank voters if a three-quarter-cent sales tax should be implemented in the city — is a tool city officials are hoping to use to address the systemic budget deficit.
Officials estimate Burbank will be facing about a $14.2-million shortfall during the 2022-23 fiscal year, so city leaders are hoping that Measure P, which is projected to generate about $20 million annually, can answer the city’s budget woes.
However, Flavin said it is going to take more than a sales tax measure to get the city out of its financial rut.
“We don’t believe it’s the total solution to the problem,” he said. “We need to have a plan to intelligently grow our tax base here, so we’re looking to support quality private investment in the community.”
Flavin said he also wants the nonprofit to have the ability to accept grants and donations to monetarily assist the city with economic development activities, which is something the chamber of commerce cannot do.
Since Burbank, like many cities, lost the ability to use funds from redevelopment agencies, the city has struggled to address its degrading infrastructure, according to Flavin.
By being able to raise funds, Flavin said the nonprofit could go after grants with local match and bring in outside sources to assist the city in building a more robust economic development plan.
“A lot of chambers in California have recognized that they don’t have the resources to really play a substantive role in economic development,” Flavin said. “I’ve been thinking about doing something like this three or four years ago.”