Chamber of Commerce
The Manhattan Beach Chamber is an association of businesses, other entities and individuals organized to encourage a strong local economy and quality of life by promoting commerce, sound government, and an informed membership and community. The Chamber is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit corporation funded by membership dues, sponsorship income and event revenue. Its board of directors is comprised of 18 directors who are leaders in their local corporate sector—11 of the which are women. Kelly Stroman has been the president/CEO of the MBCC since January 2019. Latrice McGlothin became chair of the board in July.
What is the history of the MBCC?
“The MBCC was incorporated in California on March 10, 1941, and is known for founding many well-known programs and events that brought the community together and advocated for South Bay companies. The Chamber worked in the ’40s to encourage business expansion and campaigned against beach pollution. It sponsored festivals and fairs that added flavor to the social life of the city. The summer fairs were abandoned 20 years later, but their spirit lives on in the Old Towne Fair. The Chamber also initiated the annual Manhattan Art Festival, the Santa Claus float project in December and annual recognition awards for outstanding citizens.
In 1955 the Chamber began its yearly International Paddleboard Race from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach. The event soon became a three-day aquatic spectacle, featuring lifeguard races, volleyball tournaments, dory races, surf mat races, a parade, band concert and dance, Coast Guard demonstration, and the channel race itself—the longest in the world, with 50,000 people on the beach to greet the winner. The race was abandoned in 1961, but the other events are continued in the annual Surf Festival now cosponsored by the other Beach Cities.”
Take a risk or play it safe in business?
“The bold leadership by both the president/CEO and the board of directors has made the MBCC a respected trailblazer in the South Bay. The dynamic board members bring an incredibly accomplished depth and appreciation for driving the local economy. The MBCC is known for stepping out of the box, advocating for small businesses and creating programs that enhance the community at large. It adds an extra focus on women in business, providing new opportunities and recognition for women entrepreneurs and leaders.”
What changes have you made due to COVID-19?
“We have Zoomed and shifted as quickly as possible! The MBCC has remained open and very active during the pandemic. We have relentlessly worked with the city of Manhattan Beach to adapt to the needs of businesses and to provide a path to survive the shutdown. We’ve brainstormed with area leaders about moving restaurant, fitness and personal care operations outside. We’ve advocated for extensions in rent and payment options. We’ve listened to the challenges each one faces and provided resources. The MBCC is committed to helping every firm survive COVID-19.”
What is your #1 piece of advice during this unprecedented time?
“Be relentless, actively listen, create new ways like you never knew you could and do everything you can to take care of yourself. Breathe deeper and more often. This too shall pass, and together we will create and gracefully navigate the new reality.”
Tell us about the heroes on your team.
“Look at these dynamos! They are intelligent, intuitive, compassionate and an insanely educated, evolved, successful and involved group of female visionaries. They care deeply about each other, the community and every member. They are welcoming, strategic and big-picture thinkers.”
What have been your proudest moments during the recent crisis?
“Giving hope to distraught business owners doing everything they can to keep their company afloat. We spend hours and days sifting through informational calls and sessions so we can provide the most accurate and helpful information to each member.
Listening to the social climate and forming the first-ever MBCC Inclusion Committee. Our local business leaders have a powerful collective voice and network that drive movement and create change. Considering recent national events and the need to focus on inclusion, the Chamber believes inclusion is when every single person in the community is valued, heard, respected, empowered and feels a true sense of belonging. It goes beyond tolerance to celebrating and elevating every person in the room and beyond.
The role of the Inclusion Committee will be to provide a lens of inclusion in all aspects of our work, including communications, marketing, promotion, processes and events, and to advocate for awareness of such within other organizations. They’ll work to identify opportunities to ensure Chamber programming and practices are fair and provide forward-looking recommendations to ensure the MBCC is a leader in championing all sectors of the corporate community.
The MBCC was instrumental in the development and execution of the Safe in the South Bay COVID-19 program. We collaborated with the Beach Cities Health District and neighboring chambers of commerce to provide clarity and effective means to implement the mandatory L.A. County COVID-19 workplace protocols. The program provides resources to employers, helps employees feel safe and confident in the workplace, and increases consumer confidence while frequenting the participating businesses.”
Photographed at Westdrift Manhattan Beach