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It’s official! First Bank’s branch in the Malibu Village is open, with the help of Malibu Chamber of Commerce members (front row, from left) Beth Mohiuddin, Danielle Dutcher, Barbara Bruderlin, Lenise Soren, Nagy Henein, Mike Arcari, Keri Canady, Kim Spence, Nadine Llanas, Mike Giragosian and Mike Masresha.

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce is currently in negotiations with the Pacific Palisades Chamber about potential unification of efforts slated for early 2022, which could enable both cities to better promote and support their local businesses through improved efficiency and a fusion of joint resources. 

Both organizations—which serve to promote and protect the respective interests of their local business communities—have been in communication on the topic of potentially combining efforts well before the commencement of more formal negotiations, according to Malibu Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Chris Wizner, a longtime local and entrepreneur with deep roots in the community.

Malibu and Pacific Palisades are neighboring coastal communities with many similarities, at least from a business perspective. 

“Our chambers have always been linked together. Not only do we share geographic proximity but also enjoy boutique, in nature, business communities,” Wizner stated in a recent interview with The Malibu Times. “After the pandemic hit last March, with the attendant lockdowns, arriving in the close aftermath of the Woolsey Fire, merger talks became more urgent as our business communities were hit so enormously.”

The joining of forces would essentially act as a unified voice for businesses in both communities, working to promote economic development and protect shared interests. A larger membership base would also translate into more networking, stronger advocacy and the ability to bring strong leaders together for problem-solving and further discussion on pressing needs. 

“Especially in light of an unknown future, particularly as our business futures respond to a post-pandemic world, merging our akin chambers can bring about significant good,” Wizner affirmed. 

Mayor Paul Grisanti—who sits on the Malibu chamber’s board of directors—also echoed a similar level of optimism about the opportunity: “The City of Malibu has cooperated with the Chamber of Commerce for many years,” he stated in a recent email to The Malibu Times. “I hope that the combined chambers will be able to continue that tradition and grow the partnership.”

The idea of a potential partnership came about just in the last few years, according to Malibu Chamber of Commerce CEO Barbara Bruderlin.

“I was approached a couple of years ago about the possibility, but at the time I wasn’t certain that it was in the best interest of both communities,” Bruderlin said in a recent interview with The Malibu Times. “It wasn’t until the amazing Jill Lederer—who created the Greater Conejo Chamber of Commerce from the individual chambers of Thousands Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills—took me under her wing that I began to consider the value.

“Around the same time, I also observed the Santa Barbara Chamber merger with Goleta and Carpinteria and I began to really see that communities are actually better served with a larger, stronger chamber and board,” she continued. 

Speaking to the potential merger in the works, Bruderlin affirmed that “we are both uniquely joined as part of the Santa Monica Mountains community. We are handshake communities with many of the same needs, and yet offer each other a wider range for a more balanced lifestyle.” The opportunity, she said, would serve to offer exciting business opportunities to members.

“We will keep supporting and creating our longstanding traditions and favorite major events of locals in Malibu, and will do the same for Pacific Palisades,” Bruderlin continued. “We’re excited about expanding our friendships and business connections as we step out of the pandemic and into a greater chamber lifestyle for everyone.”

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