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Northeast Chambers Unite to Raise Clout

January 31, 2001|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than half a dozen small chambers of commerce stretching from Boyle Heights to Atwater Village have banded together to form the United North East Chambers of Commerce. The umbrella organization aims to increase the political clout of individual chambers and enable them to provide more sophisticated services to member businesses.

The umbrella chamber is expected to represent about 1,000 businesses, far more than the 100 or so that many of the individual chambers count on their member rosters. Participating chambers include Atwater/Griffith Park, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The El Sereno chamber is also expected to join once it resumes activity after a period of dormancy.

The nonprofit organization will craft an economic development agenda for Northeast Los Angeles, then sit down with elected officials to promote it, said Michael Cathey, who will serve as volunteer executive director of the entity. It will also work to boost the professionalism of participating chambers, helping them to increase membership and organize fund-raisers.

The umbrella group also plans to join the statewide chamber and build a resource library to help businesses locate non-bank financing and increase revenues.

The mega-chamber is the latest to form in the region. The United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley represents 23 local chambers.

Cathey became involved when he served as executive director for the Atwater/Griffith Park Chamber of Commerce, but has since left that post to become director of membership for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

"You have your small local volunteer organizations that have been around forever," Cathey said. "The problem is the business concerns are never fully heard or listened to . . . it's just very difficult for them to be 100% effective."

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