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Message from the CEO – June 2014 

Cecil Russell

Chamber CEO,
Cecil Russell

I can’t believe that it is already June. It seems that this year is going by at lightning speed! This gives me a chance to pause and reflect on things and events that have happened in our city in the last few years that I have been the President of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. I was having a conversation with former City Manager, Greg Nyhoff, during which we spoke about some of the positive accomplishments that have taken place downtown. These projects were ones that he and I collaborated on with the help of the Downtown Improvement District and others. The list turned out to be much larger than I thought it might be. Some of the significant improvements include the repaving of key sections of 10th, 11th, and 12th streets, including some curb and gutter work, getting a grant to fund the cleaning of the sidewalks of many blocks of downtown, obtaining more benches and trash receptacles, opening 10th Street in front of Brenden Theaters and Fuzio’s, changing one hour parking to two hour in the downtown core and creating dining parkettes at 10th and J street.

Two other large projects that we worked on together that have had a lasting effect on our city is the updating of the City of Modesto logo and the renovation of the Modesto Arch. Updating the city logo was a project that was initiated by a group called Commonwealth which at the time included business leaders like Mike Moradian, Marian Kaanon, and David Boring, and brought a fresh look and vitality to our city logo. After many meetings, the new logo was adopted by the city council. Restoring the Modest Arch was a true collaboration. We are very proud of the team work between the city, led by Greg Nyhoff, and the Modesto Chamber team, led by Mike Moradian, that raised private funds and received many donated hours of work to renovate our beloved Modesto City Arch. These are the types of projects that make us proud to live and work in our city.

During the past couple of years the Chamber of Commerce office building underwent major renovations inside the office complex, as well as a major Welcome paint makeover outside. With the addition of the art work of a ‘57 Chevy on the side our building, the project has become an example in pride of ownership of landlords in the area. There are other positive projects that will continue to reinvigorate our downtown core. The conversion of the Post Office to a new office complex while preserving the historical décor and art of the previous building will hopefully inspire other landlords to improve their properties. As an example, Greens has purchased their building on 10th Street and will be remodeling to create more dining and banquet space.

With the new Stanislaus County Courthouse moving forward, we can anticipate that more improvements will continue and more business will be attracted to downtown. You might ask why we have so much concern about downtown and the success of business downtown. The downtown core represents the heartbeat of any community and represents the overall health of our city. Research has shown that when companies look at a community with a desire to locate, they will make judgments based on the health of the downtown and other criteria. Likewise, as commerce in the downtown area improves, the city as a whole almost always follows suit.

BridgeThere are other improvements going on throughout our city. Walmart Plaza Center and Orchard Hardware on Oakdale Road have both undergone major remodel. Flowers Baking Co has remolded and expanded their operations to include commercial bread. Flowers Baking Co. has added over a 100 new jobs with their expansion. This is all great news for jobs and our economy.

Also to boost the economy, increase safety and relieve traffic congestion the Pelandale Interchange will undergo reconstruction, as well as the Keirnan overcrossing will be expanded. As a community we are fortunate to have received state funding for these multimillion dollar projects. Together these projects will create hundreds of jobs and promote existing planned and future economic development.

June kicks off Graffiti Summer on Friday June 6th in downtown Modesto and we are looking forward to the annual Kiwanis parade of classic cars, especially as this year the parade route will stretch from downtown, out McHenry to Orangeburg. We are expecting over a thousand cars this year and the unveiling of the “Walk of Fame” sidewalk inserts on 10th street will also create some new excitement. The parade begins at 7:00 pm at 10th and I streets.

Chris Murphy is our featured writer this month, and he will explain our history and love for cars and cruising. He continues to promote our great city and cheers on all things Graffiti. We need to build on Chris’s enthusiasm and all work together to help create a positive buzz about Modesto. This kind of excitement creates opportunities that build a better economy and improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

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