lacter///valleyedit/april/1stjc/mike1st Hed — Too Many Voices The Valley is suffering from business group inflation. Simply put, there are just too many organizations all doing pretty much the same thing. We note with interest the revving up of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, which was originally formed in the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and whose organizers aim to raise $7.5 million by the end of the year. There is nothing wrong with the organization’s primary aim: Promote the Valley as a good place to do business. Nor can fault be found with the selection of veteran television executive Bill Allen as the group’s president and chief executive (even if the $180,000 salary seems a mite high). Our biggest question is, “Why finance and expand such an organization when the Valley already has several vital business groups, such as the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the United Chambers of Commerce and the Valley Economic Development Center?” Having so many associations creates a splintering effect that ultimately dilutes the Valley’s business voice. The profusion of groups, of course, is not limited to the Valley. Indeed, it’s a phenomenon throughout all of Los Angeles. In most cities, business interests tend to be represented by a single body often the local chamber of commerce. But the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has had only limited effectiveness in reaching out to the city’s disparate business communities (which might help explain its limited effectiveness at the City Council). In lieu of the chamber or any other leading organization a host of business groups has been formed throughout the city. They include the Central City Association, the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Business Advisors and RLA not to mention business organizations geared to specific industries and ethnic groups. In fairness, L.A. is not like most American cities. Its sheer vastness creates diverse interests and agendas that are often difficult to embrace in a central organization. Even an issue like the proposed downtown sports arena will be of more interest to Central City members than to VICA. The splintering also is the result of a tendency by the major groups to skew their attention to downtown and the Westside not the Valley. In our story this month on the Economic Alliance, Allen takes to task the New Los Angeles Marketing Partnership. “I would defy you to find much information about the San Fernando Valley in NewLAMP’s marketing efforts,” Allen told reporter Daniel Taub. Point is well taken. And yet, we remain mystified as to why one of the existing Valley organizations could not take charge of the Economic Alliance’s marketing efforts. (We also wonder why $7.5 million is necessary to get the job done.) A coordinated business voice is not possible when there are so many voices seeking attention. As former L.A. Chamber President Ray Remy put it last year: “The combination of that many business groups creates the problem of competing for limited resources and competing for limited time from prominent business leaders.” In an era when consolidation and efficiency have become watchwords for doing business, it’s hard to understand why local business leaders including those in the Valley haven’t yet gotten the message.