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Message from the CEO – February ’15 

Cecil Russell

Chamber CEO,
Cecil Russell

Our 101st Annual Gala was held at the Gallo Center for the Arts on January 31st. We were very pleased with the attendance. The food was great and the entertainment was very special. We had Savage Middle School’s orchestra preform under the direction of Chuck Holtan, and they were spectacular. We also had the Gregori High School Marching Band perform and they were a big hit and brought the house down. Keep an eye out for March’s issue of Progress Magazine, it will have more highlights from the night’s events.

We lost a valuable member of our community right after Christmas. Dave Geer was a former City Councilman for Modesto who had a great passion for the work he did for the City. He was a great representative and advocate for not only for the district that he represented, but for all of Modesto. He was a great ambassador and was always promoting businesses both large and small. He knew that we needed to develop jobs, and that the best way to create economic growth was by encouraging businesses to re-locate and grow here in Modesto. The one thing that always impressed me about Dave was his constant positive demeanor. He was always very professional. Our community has lost a great leader, and he will truly be missed.

There are many positive things going on in Our City, many groups working toward a better future for Modesto. Some of these groups include the Downtown Partnership Group, Community Benefit District, Urban Design Committee, and the Leadership Modesto Art Block Project. These are just a few of the concerned businesses working together with the City of Modesto staff, the DID, and the Alliance to help build a better future for Modesto.

Your Modesto Chamber has had a very busy January. We have attended many meetings and events that will affect the future of our community. One of the key recent meetings was the Water Summit for Stanislaus County that included the Farm Bureau and all water-related districts and municipalities in Stanislaus County. Agency presentations and break out groups addressed emerging issues, water resource management concerns, and a review of legislation regarding sustainable groundwater management. We also attended MID meetings that reviewed the fair cost of water rates to our farm community along with the rates for all electrical customers; more meeting will be needed to gather all of the input before final rates will be established. Other meetings that we attended included a working group to review revenue funding plans to bring daily airline service from our local Modesto airport to LAX in Los Angles.

We also attend the inaugural Gala of the Great Valley Museum at the Science Community Center at Modesto Junior College West Campus. This is a fabulous facility that has become one of California’s premier natural history museums. Speaking about Modesto Junior College, we are very proud that MJC was chosen to be one of the first community colleges in California to offer a four degree. They will be expanding their respiratory care program to offer a Bachelor’s of Science degree. Congratulations to MJC President Jill Stearns and her staff for being awarded this opportunity for our community.

We are encouraged that two members of our Valley Delegation, Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen and Adam Gray, introduced companion Assembly bills to stop the abuses by unscrupulous lawyers in regard to filing ADA lawsuits that have no real intent of protecting the rights of the disabled. They are joined by State Senator Cannella and State Senator Galgiani as well as others throughout the Valley who are united to common sense reform without taking away from the rights of the disabled person.

We continue to be impressed with our new City Manager Jim Holgersson. He is focusing on a strategic plan and developing a performance driven group in the city that truly understand that their function is to serve the citizens of our community. His focus is also on financial and economic sustainability. He wants to leverage our community assets and build community partnerships and build trust through transparency. We believe that if all of our different organizations in our community work together, we can build a better Modesto and a better quality of life for all.

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