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Business, meet Chamber

Ryan Carter

From the home-based businesses of Burbank to the city’s

post-production houses, J.J. Connaughton has a big job. As membership

account executive for the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, Connaughton is


on the front line when it comes recruiting businesses to join the


“She tells our story,” said Susan Bowers, the chamber’s executive

director. “She is that person out there talking to businesses every



Every time a business moves into the area, it is Connaughton who

must go to them, introduce the chamber and its programs, and try to

get them to join.

She also follows up with businesses that have been in the area but

who have yet to join. She stays in contact with them so when they are

ready to join, she can help them through the process. It is a job

that means 15 to 20 phone calls a day to businesses and constant


trips into the business community to recruit new members.

Each month, about 10 new businesses join the chamber, but even

that number fluctuates, according to chamber officials.

Recruiting businesses is a fitting job for Connaughton, who likes

to talk and network and relishes the challenge of coming up with new

ways to freshen up her presentation to business owners.

“My job is to work with businesses and educate them on what the

chamber does and let them know how we are here to help them,” she



The task is not always easy.

“People have varying notions of what a chamber is,” she said,

adding that she has always at least been able to let business owners

know who she is.

For some, barriers to joining might be the difference from a

chamber that a business was once a part of, or that potential members

might not know what the current chamber offers, which includes

everything from lobbying of local legislators to ribbon cuttings and

organizing networking events with other Burbank businesses.

Patricia Virrey, who owns Spoiled Bratz clothing store on Magnolia

Boulevard, credits Connaughton with her decision to join the chamber.

“She has been very good about following through,” Virrey said.

“She had been following through and checking back with me every other


Said Connaughton: “What we can do is make their lives easier.”