Pacoima Chamber Staging a Rebirth By Listening to Firms FROM THE NEWSROOM By Jason Schaff A year ago I didn’t think Pacoima even had a chamber of commerce. They were quiet to say the least. Little did I know that other people even in Pacoima also thought the chamber was pretty much dead. Well, I’m happy to let everybody know that the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce is alive and well and getting stronger everyday. Evidence of this was a great banquet on May 27 where chamber officials showed they’re organized, focused and intent on greatly improving the business climate of their community. At the event, Wells Fargo and Citibank were honored for their work in helping to improve Pacoima an often overlooked section of the Valley and Los Angeles. Both banks have put their money and resources on the line to better serve the area by offering banking services. L.A. City Councilman Alex Padilla was also honored for having a vision for the community, which is his home. Hip Hop Beverage Corp., which has created jobs with its energy drink headquarters in Pacoima, was also recognized. But Pacoima businesses overall should be honored for their vision and their actions that have staged a rebirth of their chamber, which just seven months ago had under 40 members. Now the membership totals more than 100. Chamber officials predict more than 200 members by the end of the year. So what’s the deal? It seems that it’s passion and action on the part of chamber officials and the overall business community in the area and a little bit of creativity. The chamber offers free Web development for members. Chamber officials have learned what many other chamber officials throughout the Valley have learned you’ve got to offer businesses something in return for their yearly chamber dues beyond the “prestige” of belonging to the chamber. Mario Matute, chamber vice president and director of the Valley Family Technology Center in Pacoima, is one of the chamber officials leading the organization’s activist agenda. He also credits the current activist board in helping bring in new members. Matute believes the “personal touch” is the best in Pacoima when chamber officials actively visit businesses to find out what their needs are. That’s true anywhere. The Forecast I hope Dan Blake isn’t too optimistic in his rather rosy predictions for the Valley in the annual Cal State Northridge Economic Forecast conducted by Blake at that school’s Economic Research Center and released on May 25. He’s the economist and I’m not. So I believe him. It all seems good. We’re going to add jobs, although a lot of them will be temporary workers in the next year. I worry about the manufacturing sector, though. That industry is expected to lose 2,300 jobs this year, according to Blake. That’s less than last year but still way too many. Manufacturing, although we may think it’s old school, is the base of any economy. It generally pays well and generally employs people who have some basic skills. It’s unfortunate to lose too much of that. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (818) 316-3125.