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Monday, May 16, 2022

Simi Valley Set to Join Race for Visitor Dollars

Simi Valley is close to joining the growing list of local cities to establish a tourism business improvement district, or TBID. The city could approve creation of the Simi Valley Tourism Marketing District as soon as May 5 when it holds a public hearing seeking final approval from the City Council. To follow in the footsteps of 80 other California municipalities with TBIDs, Simi Valley will rely on existing attractions such as the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library & Museum and Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. Five hotels have agreed to implement a 2 percent fee to each guest’s bill to fund the district. It would be authorized for five years, effective July 1, with an annual budget estimated at $230,000. Consultant Lorena Parker was hired by the city and the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce to help form the district. She previously helped create Ventura County West, a joint tourism marketing district for the cities of Oxnard, Camarillo and Ventura. “Overall, Southern California has been looking towards improving tourism,” Parker told the Business Journal. “It’s been a really good investment on their part to make sure they stay and remain competitive in the region.” Burbank and the Conejo Valley also created similar setups in recent years, making a push to promote their cities’ tourist attractions enough to land overnight guests at local hotels. Simi Valley City Manager Eric Levitt recommended the Council approve the petition to form the district at its March 31 meeting, according to a staff report. Councilman Keith Mashburn did not respond to requests for comment, but he was the only member to vote against the petition. He disagreed that this project should be run as a city-funded or -operated entity. “We’re one of the last cities to do it,” said Leigh Nixon, president of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t have a fairgrounds or anything like that, so this is a way to put our hotels at an advantage.” Sustainable Supermodel? Cherokee Inc. is preparing to roll out swimwear for its newest line, ale by Alessandra, designed by Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio. However, the Van Nuys brand licensing company doesn’t have Ambrosio all to itself. Earlier this year, the Brazilian supermodel launched a “Brazilian Bohemian Goes Malibu Chic” clothing line with Santa Monica-based Planet Blue, and she is set to debut her swimwear and coverup line in partnership with major sportswear maker The Lunada Bay Corp. in July at the Miami Beach Swim Show. Henry Stupp, Cherokee’s chief executive, said he’s very cautious about getting involved with celebrity brands, but earlier this year he struck a deal with another celeb, skateboarder Tony Hawk. Stupp explained that Hawk had long proven himself as a sustainable businessman and brand on top of being a known name. He said that Ambrosio is recognized for her ability to move product, which was proven during her time as a Victoria’s Secret model for the brand PINK. He’s confident ale will work in the marketplace. “Alessandra’s philosophy on the essence of the brand is to feel like you’re always on vacation,” he said. Cherokee is positioning the brand to be sold at mass market retailers like Nordstrom Inc., Bloomingdale’s and Dillard’s Inc. Having a quality product that consumers will want to buy is crucial, Stupp said, noting brands like The Jessica Simpson Collection and Kathy Ireland Worldwide brands have continued to flourish while surpassing the celebrities’ careers. InterMedia Entertainment specializes in connecting brands with celebrities. Rob Levy, president of the Woodland Hills-based company, said with the emergence of ecommerce, the value of a known name and face has increased. “With the digital revolution, things are really changing,” he said. “Social media is a big factor in how celebrities are looked at as brands. If they have the potential to monetize their brand, they will.” Money for Music Ares Management LLC earlier this month gained a majority stake in Guitar Center Inc. The Westlake Village musical instrument retailer improved its capital structure through a debt-to-equity exchange between Bain Capital LLC and Ares. The deal brings down Guitar Center’s debt by about $500 million from its reported $2.1 billion load. Bain Capital will retain partial ownership in the company and representation on the board of directors. Guitar Center and Ares declined to comment, but Guitar Center Chief Executive Mike Pratt gave a prepared statement: “It marks a significant moment for Guitar Center as we strengthen our company and welcome Ares Management and its retail expertise alongside that of Bain Capital. We now have the necessary resources to expand our footprint and to invest in our people, stores and product assortment.” Traveling Upward Studio City-based Willett Travel was acquired by Frosch International Travel late last month. The travel agency had been owned by Chief Executive Tama Taylor Holve since 1987. During that time, the operation grew from nine to 65 employees, and from $2.5 million to nearly $25 million in sales. Willett was ranked No. 24 on the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s list of Women-Owned Businesses last year. Under the new ownership, Willett will retain its current staff at its same location. Holve noted that Frosch brings a large network of clients and agencies, while providing better technology for Willett. “We’re very excited because with this larger international company, we have tools and resources that will help us to serve our clients more effectively,” she said. Staff Reporter Stephanie Forshee can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or sforshee@sfvbj.com.

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