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Saturday, Jun 3, 2023

Louder Voice for the Valley

David Fleming has chalked up a lot of accomplishments in his seven decades: chairman of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, chairman of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., chairman of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association and seats on countless state and city commissions and community boards. Fleming, a Studio City resident whose day job is an attorney at Latham & Watkins, also spearheaded the city’s charter reform efforts in the 1990s and was one of the more visible supporters and investors of the failed Valley secession bid. These days, Fleming is still an ardent supporter of the Valley, but he also recently added a new and different feather to his cap: chairman of the powerful Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which has sometimes butted heads with Valley interests. The Business Journal talked with Fleming about his new position, how the chamber can help the Valley and why downtown bureaucrats are finally starting to take notice of the other side of the hill. Question: How do you plan on the L.A. Chamber addressing business organizations and chambers in the Valley? A: No. 1, I’m still a resident of the Valley; I’m still a part of the Valley. It’s just that (former Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley CEO) Bill Allen has moved to the (Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. as president and CEO) and I’ve moved to the Chamber. So, the Valley now has some voice downtown where we didn’t before. Q: Do you plan to reach out specifically to Valley business groups? A: Oh, sure. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, it’s at the top of my agenda. And not just Valley business groups, but all of the advocacy business groups across the county. It’s what we’re trying to do: put them all together to have a more unified voice for business. Q: It seems that some in the Valley have been critical of the L.A. Area Chamber in the past because they didn’t feel like they were being represented fully. Is that the case? A: I think that’s true of everything south of Mulholland. Until we had the secession war, we weren’t getting any attention from anywhere to speak of. Now things have changed. This is a pretty good indication of how things have changed. (Laughs) Q: How can some of the smaller, neighborhood chambers work with the L.A. Area Chamber? A: That’s one of the things that’s on my plate. We want to reach out to every business advocacy organization in the county every chamber of commerce, every trade group, VICA, Central City (Association in downtown L.A.) and bring them together and start building up numbers so we will have numbers that are comparable to the labor unions. Our problem has always been we have the numbers, we’re just not organized. We’ve got to get organized.

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