Decrease in membership part of chamber’s challenges
By Dolores Quintana
The Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce has lost its lease and is working on a merger with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce to continue its mission.
Bob Benton, the President and CEO of the organization and Sarah Knauer, the chair of the Chamber’s board of directors, sent a letter to members of the Chamber of Commerce on November 4.
“The last couple of years have been challenging, not only for you and all our local businesses but also for the Chamber of Commerce.
During this time, we have done our best to operate virtually via eBlasts, social media, Zoom meetings, and events. Unfortunately, despite our significant efforts to continue to provide value to our members, the Palisades Chamber and so many other chambers across the country have seen a substantial decrease in membership since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
Simultaneously, within the last few weeks, our landlord made the unilateral decision not to renew our lease for the space on Antioch Street that the Chamber has occupied for so many years.
These two events put us at an interesting crossroads, and we felt it was time to revisit an opportunity that we had explored a couple of years ago — a merger with another boutique, local chamber.
Recently, we began negotiations with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. Pending the final approval by both boards, we hope to officially announce the merger as the new Greater Malibu Palisades Chamber of Commerce.
I, along with our Board Chair, Sarah Knauer, and other Palisades board members, will continue to sit on the combined board and play an active role in the organization. We believe combining forces with Malibu will enhance the opportunities for you and your business.
When the merger becomes final, your membership will carry over to the Greater Malibu Palisades Chamber, and we strongly encourage you to renew for 2022. Look out for a bill this December.
It has been an honor to serve this town as President and Chair of the Chamber.”
The letter makes clear that times have been tough for many of the Chambers of Commerce throughout the United States which have faced a decline in membership since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. With the landlord of the property that their office space resides in deciding to not renew their lease, together with other factors, the Palisades Chamber of Commerce sees the way forward through a merger with another small and local Chamber of Commerce, Malibu, that serves an area that has a similar topography and set of issues.
The letter promises that Benton, Knauer, and other board members of the Pacific Palisades Chamber will become part of the board for a combined Pacific Palisades and Malibu Chamber of Commerce and that their interests will still be served. It does sound like this merger is mostly a done deal and that an announcement of the merger being complete should be coming fairly soon, since the letter indicates that the Chamber members should be receiving a bill for Chamber membership in December.