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State of the City Celebrates 'Small Town, Global Appeal'

Feb 16, 2017 12:24PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Mayor David Lesser speaks at the State of the City event on Wednesday February 15.

Manhattan Beach movers and shakers praised the many facets of this small and dynamic city on Wednesday morning at the annual State of the City event, sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Manhattan Beach is "a community actively balancing its small town character with its global appeal," said Mayor David Lesser, who is only in his eighth day as mayor. After eight days, "The state of the city is good thus far," he joked.

Lesser highlighted the city's significance as a tourism and shopping destination, as a technology hub, as an innovation center with Northrup Grummon and the MBS Media Campus, and as home of global apparel company SKECHERS. "It's truly an engaged community, and that has allowed our community to become what it is," he said.

The event was also a debut of sorts for longtime Manhattan Beach resident Mark Lipps, who recently took the helm as president and CEO of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

"Right now, this is the next level for me to get involved," said Lipps, who handed out his business card with his cell phone number on it to all attendees. "Call me - we're neighbors. You have my cell. You can reach me anytime."

Lipps described the Manhattan Beach community as "activists." "We push back, but we make a difference," he said. He noted that key projects such as Metlox, Manhattan Village, and even Gelsons had been changed due to the activism of the local community. "We pushed back a little bit and we made them better."

Lipps added that he wanted the Chamber to be detailed, organized, and engaged with the community. "And if we're not doing something that we should be doing, let me know."

Attendees also heard from Bruce Moe, Manhattan Beach's financial director, who called the city "fiscally stable" with a balanced general fund budget and a triple-A credit rating. Moe noted that the "headwinds" faced by the city included managing rising pension costs, dealing with inadequate storm water funding, managing unpredictable workers' compensation costs, and procuring significant funding sources for non-enterprise capital improvements.

Mike Matthews, superintendent of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District also spoke, touting the district's numerous state and national awards, top test scores, and winning athletic and academic teams. "But we never say it's good enough," he added.

Matthews said that the goals for the year included improving math instruction, incorporating 21st century teaching techniques, and promoting inclusion. Matthews noted that the grants funded by the Clinton family would work toward ensuring that "every single student feels included."

The audience also heard from a panel including city's economic vitality manager Andy Sywak, economic vitality manager for the city of Manhattan Beach; Mark Leyman, Manhattan Beach's director of parks and recreation; Kelly Stroman, executive director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professional Association; Stephanie Bauer, general manager of the Manhattan Beach Marriott; and Steve Delk of the North Manhattan Beach Business Improvement District and owner of OB's Pub & Grill.

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