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Lakewood, Long Beach Chambers of Commerce at Odds

September 23, 1993

The downsizing in the aerospace industry, last year's "civil disorder" and the closure of the Long Beach Naval Station has severely impacted the region's job and tax revenue base. The economic pain is and will be shared by cities throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Given this set of circumstances, it is shocking the city of Lakewood, and its local chamber of commerce, have tried to thwart plans to create new jobs for those displaced by these recent events (Times, Sept. 12).

By their actions, it is clear Lakewood officials have placed their parochial views ahead of the best interests of the region. Specifically, the city of Long Beach has proposed to develop a retail center. In truth, the type of retailers proposed for the site (Costco, Wal Mart, Toys R Us, etc.) will "compete" with only a fraction of Lakewood Mall's total retail sales. Because of its prime location, this type of "big box" retailer will serve to attract consumers from throughout Southern California to other Long Beach and Lakewood retail locations. Furthermore, that tax revenues generated by the retail center will go toward making Long Beach a safer place to live and do business--to which the city of Lakewood will also benefit!

This issue has, unfortunately, placed the Long Beach Chamber at odds with the Lakewood Chamber. Chambers of commerce exist to promote business and the free enterprise system. When chambers of commerce seek to undermine business expansion and market competition--such as Lakewood has attempted to do--they negate the very reason they were formed! If we as chambers of commerce are not aggressive in our efforts to retain and attract jobs here in California--no matter where their location--then we have already lost the battle to other states.

Replacing the $1-billion economic loss from the closure of the Naval Station, loss of businesses from the civil disorder and the job losses from the aerospace downsizing will be no easy task. It would serve the region's taxpayers and economy better if Lakewood officials would join with other cities and chambers of commerce toward the creation of jobs rather than the eradication of them.

DIANE CREEL

Board chair

Long Beach Area

Chamber of Commerce

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