BH Chamber of Commerce Applauds 100% Vaccinated Businesses
The Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce is aiming to spur economic recovery in the city by publishing a list of local businesses that have reached 100% employee vaccination rates. Chamber President and CEO Todd Johnson told the Courier they are looking to add as many names to the list as they can get.
“I think [COVID] is probably the most devastating thing that could’ve happened to the local economy, if not the world, that we’ve all seen in many of our lifetimes, and hopefully it’s the last thing in our lifetimes,” said Johnson.
In the U.S. about 164,000 businesses closed in the first seven months of the pandemic, according to Yelp.com data. California fared the worst at nearly 40,000 closures, half of which were permanent.
Locally, the City of Beverly Hills reported that its top revenue generating industries were down a combined 18% during the pandemic. These include property tax, sales tax, hotel tax and business tax.
Johnson said the Chamber’s first goal is to simply recognize fully vaccinated companies by announcing them on their website and in their newsletter. The Chamber’s hope is that the list will give customers an added sense of safety when visiting the businesses and help drive renewed vitality in the local economy.
“It’s not browbeating anyone that’s not 100%, all we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey congratulations, you’re 100% vaccinated,’” said Johnson. “We’re just trying to take a topic that’s obviously very political and just find the good in it by applauding businesses who are fully vaccinated, and then we’ll continue to acknowledge businesses that reach that as time goes on.”
Thus far, the “fully vaccinated” list includes O’Gara Coach Company, Runyan Capital and the Chamber’s own offices. The Chamber defines 100% vaccination as “all employees are fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption.” Fully vaccinated businesses in the city are encouraged to reach out to the Chamber to be listed.
“Runyan Capital is an office of five that interacts with clients face-to-face frequently, so I encouraged everyone on our team to get vaccinated at their earliest opportunity,” the firm’s founder and owner Jeff Runyan told the Courier. “From my perspective, we help our clients with managing their wealth and the safety of their investment portfolio. So for us to do our part to protect ourselves and protect our clients’ health, it only made sense to be vaccinated.”
In Los Angeles County, about 74% of people 12 years or older are now fully vaccinated, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 67% of eligible California residents are fully vaccinated. The U.S. is still seeing high COVID-19 hospitalization rates for children ages 5 to 11, according to the CDC, which is now encouraging vaccinations for that age group.
“I’m a member of the Chamber and the Beverly Hills Rotary Club, and a longtime goal of Rotary International has been to rid the world of polio,” said Runyan. “They have worked tirelessly for nearly four decades to achieve this. So, if Rotary International can contribute to accomplish a worldwide goal through vaccinations and vaccinations contribute to the safety of our community, our city—ultimately our county and the world—it wasn’t about me making a choice at all.”
In Beverly Hills, about 25 new businesses have opened or signed deals in 2021 to open soon, according to Chamber staff. Johnson said Beverly Hills businesses may have fared better than their counterparts in many neighboring cities during the pandemic but there is still a need to push economic recovery forward.
“There’s a lot of good things happening in Beverly Hills,” said Johnson. “We have to get past all this stuff and we will as a city. It’s going to be much brighter down the road but we have some tough things to get through.”