The Hollywood Chamber's long-time President and CEO, Leron Gubler, will be retiring as head of the Chamber at the end of the year. Gubler has led the Chamber for more than 26 years and is the longest-tenured leader in the history of the organization-more than a quarter of the Chamber's 98-year history.
Leron Gubler presented with the Key to the City of Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti
Since the passing of Hollywood's Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant 11 years ago, Gubler has emceed 300 Walk of Fame ceremonies. Counting other ceremonies where he took part, he has been involved with more than 600 Walk of Fame ceremonies.
"It has been such an honor for me to lead this organization over this critical period," said Gubler. "It has been gratifying for me to see the progress and change in Hollywood over that time and the progress that the Chamber has made."
At the time Gubler assumed his position with the Chamber in September 1992, he was the fourth Chamber CEO in three years. He said it was a difficult time for the Chamber, which was in dire financial straits.
"Fortunately, we had some outstanding volunteers at the time," said Gubler. "Without their assistance, we would never have been able to right the ship."
Among the issues faced upon his arrival were dealing with MetroRail construction that had just begun in Hollywood, an exodus of Hollywood companies, problems of crime and cleanliness in central Hollywood.
"We decided to address each of these issues one by one," said Gubler. He noted that the Chamber sponsored weekly meetings between merchants and property owners and Metro to work out construction-related issues impacting their businesses adversely.
The Chamber also addressed the negative publicity causing local businesses to move away and created the Economic Development Summit to focus on the positive things that were happening. The Chamber created an "Adopt-a-Block" program with corporations sponsoring cleaning along Hollywood Blvd. and convinced Metro to provide security teams to help with security. The Chamber then raised the money for a feasibility study and created the first business improvement district in Hollywood.
Attracting development to Hollywood was a big challenge. "We were told not to expect any new development during the eight years that the subway construction was occurring," noted Gubler. "We decided to focus on the basic problems of clean and safe until the atmosphere changed."
The Chamber was a strong advocate for the Hollywood and Highland complex and helped guide the project through City approvals. It became the first catalytic development to show that Hollywood was ripe for development.
Gubler said it was still challenging to bring new hotels and businesses to the community and to persuade the entertainment industry to return. He remembers visiting Hilton headquarters with then-Chamber Chair Oscar Arslanian and being told that "the time was not right for Hollywood."
"Well, the time is certainly right now," Gubler commented. "With three hotels completed last year, four more under construction this year, and another half dozen proposed, we have come a long way."
Office development was also a challenge, he said. There hadn't been a new office building erected in Hollywood in 25 years. "We believed there was a market for class A office tenants here, but without that office space we couldn't attract new tenants," Gubler recalled.
The arrival of firms like Hudson Pacific, Kilroy Realty Corp. and J.H. Snyder changed all that. "I can hardly believe that we have more than 800,000-sq.ft. of office space under construction today on top of the one-million sq.ft. of office space over the past three years."
Gubler said he believed that the Chamber and Hollywood are well-positioned for the future. "I am leaving this position knowing that the future looks bright for this wonderful, historic community," he concluded.
Excerpt of article from Nov/Dec Advocate published by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce