Burbank leaders upbeat in State of the City address

In his first State of the City address, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes on Wednesday gave an upbeat, optimistic assessment of the city’s economic standing, saying that the city has weathered the economic storm.

Speaking to large crowd at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, Talamantes focused on the positive, highlighting in an onstage panel discussion the ability of the health care industry, the real estate market, educators and businesses to stand their ground, or even expand, despite a recession.

“I’m honored to stand here as your Centennial mayor,” Talamantes said before launching into a presentation that highlights Burbank’s focus on infrastructure, customer service and public health.

The assessment came even as many industries with major footholds in Burbank experienced widespread lay-offs and other challenges in a challenging economy.

A drop in advertising revenues shrank television production budgets, which meant lay-offs at Warner Bros., studio executive and panelist Lisa Rawlins said.

But at the same time, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” has so far made the studio more than $1 billion worldwide, helping to push third-quarter profits up sharply.

The same dual story applied to another big player in Burbank — Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, which after completing expansion projects, including a new cancer center, is coping with employee buy-out-notices issued by its parent organization.

Walmart also announced plans to open a store adjacent to the Empire Center, a move that likely will mean fortified sales tax revenues for the city.

According to the city’s Economic Development Annual Report for fiscal year 2010-11, sales tax revenue has increased annually since 2009, with 2011 revenue projected at more than $28 million.

And since 2010, at least 50 new retailers have opened. Gary Olson — president of the Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event — noted in his remarks in a video that Burbank’s Outback Steakhouse is the company’s No. 2 unit in the U.S., behind only the 24-hour Las Vegas restaurant. The Burbank IKEA, Olson said, may be the third store built in the U.S. and the smallest, but its gross revenue per square foot is the chain’s highest in the U.S., he added.

In an interview, Olson said that while smaller businesses may be struggling to some extent, there have clearly been successes.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” Olson said. “We’re better off than a lot of other cities.”

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World