Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Community.

The next regular municipal election for the City of Modesto will be held on Nov. 7. On or before that date, registered voters will cast their ballot for, among other races, city council candidates in Districts 2, 4, and 5.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce reminds its members it is essential to be part of the democratic process. The first part of that process is to register to vote; if you haven’t already, please visit www.stanvote.com to learn more. The second part of the democratic process is to learn everything you can about what is coming up on the ballot; that includes doing the research to determine which of the candidates align more closely to your own views and values. The third part is to get out and vote!

As part of this important process, the Chamber sent questionnaires to each of the seven candidates for Modesto city council, and invited each to attend an interview-of-sorts. Each candidate (three from District 2, two from District 4, and two from District 5) responded to the questionnaire, and their responses have been published here—in their own words—for your education. For the interviews, the candidates met collectively with their district opponents and members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Government Relations Committee. We asked each candidate to elaborate on their questionnaire answers, and it was solely based on those interviews and their written responses the Board of Directors ultimately decided which candidates to formally endorse for office.

The Board of Directors chose not to endorse a candidate in Districts 2 and 5, and elected to endorse incumbent Bill Zoslocki for District 4.

In endorsing Bill Zoslocki for District 4 city council, the Board reaffirmed its goal in standing aligned with policy makers who steadfastly support the policy statements made by the Chamber, specifically in relation to economic development and growing the local business climate.

On Mar. 7, 1995, Stanislaus County voters, by more than a two-thirds vote, approved a five-year Library Sales Tax effective from July 1, 1995 until June 30, 2000. In 1999, voters, by more than a two-thirds vote, approved a five-year extension of the tax to June 30, 2005. In 2004, more than two-thirds of the voters approved an eight-year extension of the library tax through June 30, 2013. In 2012, more than two-thirds of the voters again voted for a five-year extension, which will expire on June 30, 2018, unless Measure S is adopted.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Government Relations Committee believe this is an excellent track record, and shows residents of Stanislaus County truly believe the library is an asset for lifelong learning. Your Chamber fully endorses Measure S, the renewal of the special library tax.

Candidate Statements

Governing Board Member – Area 5 Modesto City School District:

Governing Board Member – Area 7 Modesto City School District

Governing Board Member – Area 3 Sylvan Unified School District

Director Division 4 – Modesto Irrigation District

 

City Council Candidate Questions and Answers

District 2:

District 4:

District 5:

Posted by & filed under Service.

We hope that as soon as you picked it up, you noticed something different about this month’s Progress Magazine. A dedicated team has been working, behind the scenes, to create a new marketing strategy for the 100+ year old Modesto Chamber of Commerce (MCC). Every aspect of the Chamber’s new marketing strategy was designed with the Chamber’s users in mind. The intent of the changes are to better reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Modesto’s business community. The re-launch of Progress Magazine is the first step in a new overall marketing strategy, which will continue to roll-out in 2017.

While the Chamber’s core purpose is still making the greater Modesto area a best-in-class region, where businesses and individuals alike can thrive, our new marketing approach also allows us to be more forward-thinking and innovative. The new design of Progress Magazine was created to be more user-friendly, featuring Chamber member stories and highlights our new C.A.R.E.S. messaging. The C.A.R.E.S. messaging, which stands for Community, Advocacy, Relationships, Educate, and Service, provides the perfect framework to showcase the efforts of the Chamber and our members in our community. In addition to the print version of the magazine, we will also be launching an electronic version which includes a link to the latest edition on our website.

Progress Magazine is the first step in re-launching our Chamber’s brand in new and innovative ways. Later this year, we will be releasing a re-designed and mobile-friendly website. Our website will serve as a useful tool for our current members, community members and potential members. Along with the website redesign, we will be realigning our social media efforts to keep chamber members and the community up to date with current events. To top it all off, we are exploring other online and offline elements we can use to keep our members and the community informed. Watch for more in the coming months to see how you can take advantage of these great new tools!

A special thank you to the team that worked on the re-launch of Progress Magazine: Never Boring Associates, the Modesto Chamber staff and the Modesto Chamber Board of Directors. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

by Naomi Layland
Marketing/Business Development Director, Huff Construction Co.
Business Manager, Ardis Farming, Inc.

Posted by & filed under Community.

The City of Modesto’s Building Safety Division and Fire Department are collaborating to offer a new streamlined permitting program to our customers to expedite smaller, less complicated indoor retail and office type tenant improvements.

In the past, this permitting process could sometimes take weeks to get plans approved, due to back-and-forth cycles of comments and plan corrections. The new collaborative process is intended to circumvent that process, so that permits may be issued without transmittal and communication delays. The “Tenant Improvement Tuesday” program makes staff available on Tuesdays between 9 a.m and 3 p.m. for in-person appointments to review plans together, allowing adjustments on the spot and possible staff approval. The program goal is to expedite initial permit approval to within an hour. There are no extra costs or fees for using the Tenant Improvement Tuesday program. Of course, applicants can continue to use the standard permit application process, making appointments with staff as needed.

This program is based on the success of similar programs in other cities, and feedback from local designers to further improve the program. The Tenant Improvement Tuesday program formally went into effect June 1, 2017. If you know designers and contractors engaged in tenant improvement projects, please let them know about Tenant Improvement Tuesday.

To schedule a Tenant Improvement Tuesday appointment or talk with the Building Safety Division about the Tenant Improvement Tuesday program, please call 209.577.5232 ext. 0.

Posted by & filed under Community.

Downtown Modesto is buzzing with life every day of the week. With restaurants, banks, theaters, clubs, and shops of all kinds, it’s no wonder the area is so busy. This wasn’t always the case, however, and what we see now when we walk downtown is an outstanding recovery of our city’s core.

Modesto is one of California’s oldest cities and began with the hub, which would become the downtown area and was built along the rail lines in the 1870s. As trains brought goods in and out of town, the city thrived. In the early part of the 20th century, downtown Modesto was the place to be, one of the largest cities in the Central Valley. Unfortunately, by the middle of the century, Americans were moving out of city centers all across the country and Modesto was no exception.

Attempts were made in the latter half of the 20th century to revitalize downtown centers like Modesto’s, with limited success. In the last couple of decades, however, a major shift has been happening as Americans, once again found a desire for urban living. This shift has been a windfall for Modesto’s downtown, which has come back to life with the help of such organizations as the Downtown Modesto Partnership and the Downtown Improvement District, which are focused on making downtown Modesto a flourishing attraction throughout the Central Valley once again.

The Downtown Modesto Partnership was put together through a grassroots initiative that involved many business and property owners and concerned citizens, as well as community groups such as the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Stanislaus, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Downtown Improvement District as a way to ensure that the revitalization of Modesto’s downtown could be given the attention it deserves. In recent years, a healthy downtown has become more important than ever. Josh Bridegroom, CEO of the Downtown Modesto Partnership, is optimistic about Downtown’s future among the shifting trends.

“Downtown Modesto is well-positioned to succeed as the nation’s preferences once again shift to urban lifestyles,” said Bridegroom. “It’s the only real urban center in this region, with other cities having main streets more than urban downtowns.”

What does it take for a downtown hub to truly stand out and to take full advantage of the resurgence in American interest in urban living? According to Bridegroom, it starts with a coordinated plan which balances the needs of property owners, business owners, and developers, and improves infrastructure to make Downtown an attractive place for the public. This includes transit options, sidewalks, and better parking solutions. What might seem like background details can be vital to a thriving downtown environment.

“For example,” Bridegroom explained, “sidewalks are the primary conduit for social exchange and commerce downtown. Yet many of our sidewalks provide lack of shade, are obstacle courses for pedestrians to navigate, and have no color or character. We can do better. We must do better.”

With this in mind, the Downtown Modesto Partnership has been enthusiastic in finding ways to position Modesto as a city which will be attractive to businesses and prospective residents. Part of their work involves raising money to improve Downtown, and applying for grants to secure additional funding. The Downtown Modesto Partnership is an active advocate to area businesses and the public about the benefits of improved transit and parking in the downtown area, as well as working with business interests to make Downtown an attractive place for commercial endeavors.

One potential way of increasing interest in downtown is by providing rail transit to the heart of Modesto. Passenger rail, such as the ACE train which runs through the Altamont, connecting cities between Stockton and San Jose, is slated to expand to downtown by 2020 and will provide Modesto citizens with the opportunity to easily travel to larger cities for work or leisure while, at the same time, allowing those in other cities to travel into Modesto for the same. With connectivity between city centers quickly becoming one of the most important things a city can do to entice younger cohorts to work and start businesses in a city, a transit plan is a vital part of Downtown’s future.

“I think it makes it much more palatable and appealing to build office space in Modesto when you’ve got that connection to the Bay Area,” said Dave Gianelli, former president of the Downtown Modesto Partnership. “It’s not a lot of fun for people to drive over the Altamont these days for work.”

Aside from transit and infrastructure, another important area that Downtown is always trying to improve is the availability of attractions which will draw public interest. One of these points of interest is the Tuolumne River Regional Park Gateway Parcel, which is undergoing some work to make it an attractive destination.

“I think it is very likely that Tuolumne River Regional Park Gateway Parcel at the south end of 10th Street will be developed as our version of Central Park in New York, Balboa Park in San Diego or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco—with live music festivals, interpretive trails, kayaking and boating opportunities, and cultural learning centers, such as museums, an aquarium and possibly even a zoo,” said Bridegroom.

By Ashley Stinson