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Message from the CEO – July 2016 

The summer of 2016 is speeding by, faster than I remember in years past. It must be because so many good things are happening that it is hard to keep track. It seems like the planning for Graffiti Summer was just the other day, and all of a sudden we have already had the unveiling of the new Walk of Fame plaques on 10th street. Special thanks to Chris Murphy for all that he does to celebrate this important part of our local history. The North Modesto Kiwanis Parade and Car Show of 2016 is now history, too. It was the best Parade and Car Show yet; I had the privilege of being a judge for the Car Show and it was very difficult to choose one car out of 1,350 for an award. I settled for a 1972 Chevelle Convertible owned by a local Modesto man. The car was incredible, but the added benefit was the story of the owner. Victor Quinonez was serving our country in the war in Iraq and was on his second tour when he was wounded. For his bravery and service he was awarded a purple heart. He continues to live in Modesto and has restored his car to an award-winning condition. It was with great pleasure that our City Manager Jim Holgersson also selected Victor for the same award. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to meet Victor and thank him for his service to our country. It was a fun-filled week, thank you to the North Modesto Kiwanis. There are many other Graffiti events happening the rest of the summer, so get out and enjoy these great family outings.

We are fortunate to have the Manufacturer’s Council of the Central Valley (MCCV) headquartered here in Modesto. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Their mission is to provide leadership and technical expertise for the manufacturing industry in the Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced Counties and region covered by consolidated agencies within the San Joaquin Valley of California. They target initiatives including outreach and education in response to identified challenges and opportunities and provide effective and united advocacy on policy and regulatory issues. They work with many regulatory agencies and projects that include San Joaquin Valley Air District, Don Pedro/La Grange relicensing, California Groundwater Management, Regional Transportation and many others. They also have workforce development and community outreach that include Manufacturing Day tours of Del Monte, Frito Lay, and M&ET; Careers in Manufacturing High School Program, Beyer High Robotics Program, Ceres High Manufacturing Academy & Vocation Advisory Group and Stanislaus Regional Joint Manufacturing & Maintenance Apprenticeship Committee.

I attended MCCV’s Annual Luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel on May 26 celebrating their 25 years as an organization. Jennifer Carlson Shipman, MCCV’s Executive Director, does a superb job and interacts with other organizations in our greater community to help develop a better economic environment for our businesses. The keynote speaker at the luncheon was our Assembly Member Kristin Olsen. She spoke about the importance of our manufacturing sector along with our agriculture businesses and how we all need to work to prevent Washington and Sacramento from continuing to enact more regulation that hampers our economic success. She was very inspiring with her message of “Believe in Better.” We need to all work together, believing in better, asking our elected officials and policy makers to develop the “Believe in Better” attitudes and goals.

I along with a number of our board members attended the Modesto Chamber of Commerce Leadership Modesto Graduation ceremony on June 9. The graduates were a great group of participants who are prepared with their completion of the Leadership Modesto course to set out and become future leaders in our community. The keynote speaker at this graduation was Marian Kaanon, the CEO of Stanislaus Community Foundation. Marian shared her life events, the successes and the failures, and spoke to the learning experiences of failures and how they made her stronger and more resilient. Her speech was very inspirational and had a huge impact on this year’s group of graduates. Thank you, Marian.

Each year’s Leadership class adopts a class project and the class of 2014 raised funds to help complete the downtown 10th street project. They were able to raise funds to pay the city for the trees and floral arrangements in the new planter boxes and to light the trees. It was a great project with great results. Two of our members are celebrating anniversaries this year. Nick Sciabica & Sons’ olive oil company is celebrating 80 years, and Prime Shine Express is celebrating 25 years, and MedicAlert Foundation is celebrating 60 years. Congratulations to these great companies. They are locally owned and operated, providing jobs and opportunities for their employees and are all great corporate citizens.

We have a new company opening this August. The company is HealthSouth rehabilitation Hospital of Modesto. Their newly constructed facility is located at the corner of Coffee and Mable in northeast Modesto. Under the leadership of Kay Peck, PhD, they will be providing state of the art care in a very modern setting. We continue to meet with local leaders, led by StanCog to move forward to ask voters in our county to become a self-help county to leverage our tax dollars to improve our transportation infrastructure. At this writing, all of the cities and county supervisors have come together to 100% support this effort. With passage of this measure we will be able to repair and maintain our crumbling transportation systems in our county.

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend the ribbon cutting for SR-99/SR-219 Kiernan Avenue Interchange Reconstruction. The project, which was completed on schedule, replaced the old bridge and built new on- and off-ramps to enable more efficient turning movements to and from SR-99. This also improved the connections at Sisk Road and Salida. With over 250,000 vehicles on this exchange daily the project is not only able to help with traffic flow, but also the flow of goods and services for the region and state. The Modesto Chamber’s State of Business and Education event on August 17th is shaping to be our best SBE event yet. The event will be facilitated by Kristi Marsella, a world class trainer and human resource professional from G3. Please plan to attend and help us bring the community’s business leaders and educators together to help create collective impact that will improve our schools, our workforce, and our community.

By Cecil Russell, Chamber President and CEO

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