Business spotlight: LAX Coastal Chamber continues to pivot to help members connect during challenging time

Everyone’s business could use a little help these days, so every month we’re featuring a different small business to help promote shopping locally and to support community members. 

The LAX Coastal Chamber is made up of more than 600 local businesses and nonprofits–from neighborhood schools, boutiques and restaurants to tech giants and airlines–and is a valuable resource for its members when it comes to making connections and providing volunteer leadership opportunities.

But with the pandemic putting a pause on the chamber’s favorite activities–celebrating new businesses opening, in-person networking and special events–they’ve continued to pivot to stay relevant to their members and add programs to assist in any way they can.

Get the scoop on this month’s business spotlight, the LAX Coastal Chamber, led by President/CEO Christina Davis, by reading below! 

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the chamber team.  A. The LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce has been in business since 1953. Originally established as the Westchester Chamber, it partnered with the Marina del Rey Chamber in 1999. Today, we represent businesses in Westchester, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Del Rey and beyond. With more than 600 members, the chamber works to be the strongest voice for business on the Westside of Los Angeles. 

As the president/CEO, I have the honor of working with the chamber leadership, members and community. I joined the team in 2004 and have led our organization through times of great success, a recession and now, a global pandemic. Despite the challenges and changes over the years, a constant is the tremendous leadership and support this organization offers. Our chamber is committed to promoting business and enhancing the vitality of the area and that only happens with the support of our members.

Q. Please tell us a little bit about your organization. What makes it unique? A. When people ask us, ‘What does a chamber do?,’ we’re always happy to explain! We’re an organization made up of all types of businesses, from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, that excels in connecting people, strategic partnerships and creating opportunities for our members. We do this through networking, advocacy, educational training, marketing and community outreach.

It may sound cliché, but people really do make this organization great. Whether it is our amazing staff at the chamber (Chad Maender, Vice President of Membership, Kelli Trombley, Director of Business Relations and Judith Ciancimino, Office Manager) or our committed volunteers, the chamber is filled with good people really wanting to help support our LAX Coastal area. 

Q. What do you like about running the chamber? A. My favorite part of the chamber is our community involvement. I love working with our schools. It is so wonderful to work for an organization that believes that good business is more than just the bottom line; it is about making investments in education, local nonprofits, and being a good steward in your neighborhood. Some of our programs and events that support the community include the Education Committee, which brings all of our local principals together to share best practices, resources and information; the annual Fourth of July Parade down Loyola Blvd.; our Teacher Eddy Awards, which celebrates outstanding educators; and more. 

This month, we will be hosting our annual Protectors Appreciation Week. This five-day event, which takes place from February 22 to 26, is the chamber’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women that keep our communities safe. We will be dropping off gift baskets filled with coffee, treats, healthy snacks and more to LAPD Pacific, Marina Rey Sheriffs, LA County Lifeguard, US Coastal Guards, LAFD (Stations 5, 95, 67, and 51), CHP, Los Angeles World Airport Police and Los Angeles County Fire departments. 

We do not do this alone; our amazing businesses always show up by offering donations of time, talent and treasure to make our programs happen.

Q. How has COVID impacted your organization? What changes have you made? A. Wow, there are so many ways this pandemic has affected our organization, business in our community and beyond.

I think that rather than focus on the negative, I’d like to talk about the positive things that I’ve seen over the last 10-and-a-half months. There is a great quote from Mr. Rogers that talks about “looking for the helpers” in times of crisis. Well, that has definitely proven true during this pandemic. Whether it’s organizations that have collaborated together to show support for our seniors and underserved communities, or our partners in the business world that have offered support with loan applications, connections and more, there were people willing to lend a helping hand even when they needed help themselves.

As a chamber, we have maintained high levels of involvement by transitioning all of our programs to online. We have many avenues for people to get involved. 

Last year, we launched our Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Certification program, Coastal Connections (a leads referral group), Wine on Wednesday (social happy hour) and Power Professionals (support for job seekers). We also launched a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. 

These new programs, along with many of the traditional chamber committees, mean we are offering a multitude of opportunities for our members to engage.

Q. What else would you like the community to know about your organization? A. If you own or manage a business and you are looking to get more involved in your community, consider joining your chamber. This month, we are offering a special for anyone interested in giving us a try and learning more about what we are all about. 

You can visit laxcoastal.com and go to our event calendar. There you can RSVP for any of our events by using the code “SHARETHELOVE.” That will give you free access to see if you like what we offer.

Q. What are some of your favorite local businesses? A. Oh, I love so many. From our wonderful nonprofits to our delicious restaurants, from great retail spots to awesome services… there are just too many to list, but you can find them all on our website.

Visit laxcoastal.com com to learn more and check out their members.