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Message from the CEO – August 2016 

Modesto celebrated its 142nd Fourth of July Parade this year. I have had the pleasure of being a judge the last number of years and have sat beside Chris Murphy as he has done a superb job of being the Parade Announcer. This year, Chris was the Grand Marshall, a great honor bestowed on him for his many years of service to our great community. Chris is often referred to as “Mr. Modesto” for all of the constant promoting that he does for our city. Parade Chairman Jeremiah Williams asked if I would be the Parade Announcer this year to fill in for Chris Murphy, so I had the awesome task of announcer. I now appreciate even more the super job that Chris has done over the years. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Modesto Kiwanis Club for producing the event and keeping this Modesto tradition alive since 1874.

I had mentioned in recent issues of Progress the forming of Mayor Ted Brandvold‘s 100-Day Committee. During his campaign for Mayor, he promised Modesto citizens that he would conduct a review of City finances and operations. He had two main goals: search for funds in the budget that the city could apply to public safety, and create long-term financial sustainability for the city. The City Council unanimously supported the creation of the 100-Day Committee. It was to conduct a thorough and independent study of the city’s current fiscal conditions within the 100 days and to determine whether the Mayor’s twin goals could be achieved. The Committee was asked to report its findings to the Mayor and City Council. The Committee held 25 public workshops and their findings sustain the Mayor’s proposal to increase funding of the Police Department by the equivalent amount to hire up to 22 new police officers. At the Modesto City Council meeting on June 21, the Council, with full support from the city Manager and City staff, approved a budget that includes the priority and funding for these additional officers.

The conclusions in the Committee’s written report states that the long-term financial condition of the city is still very much at risk and that unless the Modesto sheds its “Business as Usual” approach and acts soon on multiple fronts, it is possible the city’s general fund will struggle to supply even the most vital services to its citizens within five to ten years. The 100-Day Committee’s entire report can be viewed online on the Modesto Chamber website at www.modchamber.org and the Modesto City website at www.modestogov.com. There are many recommendations that the City Council and City Staff need to execute as soon as possible. Please take the time to read this important reportthe future of our city depends on following up and executing these recommendations. We will cover more on this subject in our September issue of Progress.

The Modesto Chamber formed a Public Safety Committee after the November election. The Chairman of the committee is Jim Ridenour who was Mayor of Modesto from 2002 to 2010. The mission of the Public Safety Committee is to review all of the public safety elements that serve our community. We met with the Police Department, the Fire Department and with AMR, the paramedic and ambulance provider for Modesto and most if not all of Stanislaus County. After many meetings with these groups the committee issued a report with suggestions and recommendations to the Mayor and City Council. We will be following up with them to help clarify and to provide more in-depth information. It is interesting that a number of the Public Safety Committee observations/recommendations mirror those of the Mayor’s 100-Day Committee.

The City of Modesto has been working to develop a state-of-the-art website for the last several years. They have announced their “NEW” website is up and running. They now have a mobile app named Go MODESTO! You can use the City of Modesto app to report issues, tell them about a concern that you may have in your neighborhood, tagging, debris, burned out lights, receive real-time updates, track news and events, pay your utility bill on the go, and also access MAX Bus Routes and schedules. To download this app, go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play, depending on your phone type.

The Chamber will have its annual Business and Education Event on Aug. 17 at the Martin Petersen Event Center Starting at 7 a.m. We invite you to join an important conversation at the State of Business and Education (SBE) event. At this unique event we’ll be taking concrete steps to better prepare students as well as future and current employees for their next steps in life. You will leave the meeting informed on how to become an advocate for this important work and motivated to take action as an individual and with your business colleagues. Through this event and additional efforts with our partners, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce intends to better align business and education in creating a highly-skilled workforce, embracing youth and young adults in finding a successful path, and enhancing strong partnerships.

The Modesto Chamber will host the grand opening of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Modesto Sep. 28. The new business will be a great addition to our health services for our community. They will create an additional 200 jobs to help our economy. They are located in a NEW facility at 1303 Mable Ave. Please join us in welcoming this company to Modesto. They will help improve the quality of life for many in our area. Congratulations as well to an established company and Chamber member that started right here in Modesto, Sciabica’s California Olive Oil on its 80th birthday. Join us on Aug. 26 at their location for a “Farm to Fork to Flavor” event, details of which are contained on page 22.

Also mark your calendar for the Gallo Center’s Valley Talent Project (formerly Valley’s Got Talent) on Aug. 26 and 27. It is great entertainment showcasing local talent.

On Sept. 30, we will have our 33rd Annual Oktoberfest at John Thurman Field where you may sample beers and have a super brat with sauerkraut and potato salad. We will have a repeat performance of the band Gotcha Covered from last year and our midway that is fun for all.

All of the mayors and city mangers of our cities in Stanislaus County, all of our Stanislaus County Supervisors , the Stanislaus Council of Governments, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and other Chambers in our County have all come together to endorse the Self Tax measure to improve our transportation infrastructure. The measure will appear on the November ballot as Measure L. Please get behind this much-needed measure to help improve our roads, our quality of life, and to help attract more economic growth and jobs to our county.

*A portion of this article was derived from the Mayor’s 100 Day Report.

By Cecil Russell, Chamber President and CEO

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