organizations had problems -- and alleged problems.
WORKERS' COMP/HEALTH-CARE COSTS TAKE THE CAKE
Business payments for workers' compensation and medical care came
to the fore- front this year as local chambers of commerce lamented
premiums that were threatening to drive them out of the state.
"We can't hire anymore," Sunder Ramani, owner of Beauty Kiss
Floors in Burbank, said in June when the legislative fervor over the
issue was at its peak.
Legislators scurried in 2003 to pass a package of bills aimed at
trimming what they said were about $4 billion in extraneous costs in
the state's $29-billion workers' compensation system. They also
passed a controversial law requiring more small businesses to pay
health insurance for workers.
But local business leaders are looking for more reform in 2004.
The Burbank and Glendale chambers of commerce are meeting Thursday
morning to talk more about workers' compensation legislation with the
hope of getting local legislators to bring down costs. They also want
to learn more about the issue.
"It's easy to talk about workers' compensation as a simple issue,"
said Ernest Burger, a board member of the Burbank chamber. "We're all
in favor of workers' comp. It's clearly something that business
appreciates. The problem is when the costs escalate dramatically
without real benefit to workers."
FAREWELL TO CHAMBER
Susan Bowers, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce executive director
for four years, called it quits at the end of 2003. During Bowers'
tenure, chamber membership grew from 778 to 1,050 members, and
attendance rose at chamber-sponsored events and fund-raisers.
Along with her chamber duties, Bowers served as chairwoman for
Leadership Burbank, a local nonprofit organization that helps train
future leaders. She has also worked with city officials and school
district officials on various planning issues.
"The greatest thing is really bringing the chamber to the table in
the community," she told the Leader in November.
AMC, ENTERTAINMENT VILLAGE TAKES SHAPE
The ongoing effort to revitalize the downtown business area took