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Message from the CEO – September 2016 


Our cover story this month details the progress of the Downtown Partnership. We have high hopes for the outcome of their vision of moving our downtown forward. We also have an article on Don’s Mobile Glass and their new location.

Craig Lewis has an article on the anti-growth measure that will be on the November ballot (Measure I). This is more than just a bad idea, it is a job killer that could all but eliminate our opportunities to attract new manufacturing companies to locate in Modesto. We desperately need to expand and diversify our job market, and take advantage of our rich agricultural production by recruiting more agribusiness and food manufacturing to Modesto. This measure would also stop any future growth of the city to expand its tax base, which would be a huge blow to funding any future public safety needs. The sad reality is if this measure passes, it means the city will just have to tax everyone in Modesto more to pay for public safety, parks, and roads.

We just concluded our 5th Annual State of Business & Education Summit. We had a sellout event that featured Dr. Joseph Sheley, President of California State University, Stanislaus, and the President of Modesto Junior College, Jill Stearns. They both emphasized that higher education should benefit every day from the expertise and resources of the business community. We know that business benefits from the trained workforce prepared by educational institutions. One of the Chamber’s Board Members, Lucy Virgen, was featured as a great example as to how businesses benefit from investing in their employees and education (see Lucy Virgen’s article about her educational journey in the August 2015 issue of Progress Magazine).

We have the 54th annual Harvest Lunch coming up on Sep. 11 at Graceda Park. The keynote speaker will be Mark Jansen, President and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers. This event has raised over $250,000 for Modesto Junior College Agriculture Students. Thanks to our committee and all of the attendees that make this event possible. Our next event is the 32nd Annual Oktoberfest on Friday, Oct. 2, at John Thurman Field. This has been a fun event for all in the past. Our last event for the year is the Central Valley Business Summit on Thursday, Oct. 29. Please read the article from Naomi Layland in this issue to learn more about this important event and how it will benefit your business and organization. She also shares our dynamic keynote speaker – a “must hear” if you are a sports fan!

In our last issue of Progress I wrote about the new Pelandale overpass. When it is are completed it will be a terrific new gateways to our City. These are just the first steps of welcoming people into our community. As a next step, we also have started a task force to help beautify Highway 99. The current plan is to mobilize businesses to support and adopt sections of the highway to remove trash, debris and tagging with a continuous effort. We the business community will develop a plan to work with the county, city, and Caltrans to make this a reality. It will take all of us working together to be successful. Fixing this stretch of highway will go a long way toward welcoming visitors to our region.

“Steptember” takes place this month, and is a unique way to focus on health and wellness and donate to a great charity – United Cerebral Palsy. Your Chamber is supporting this 4-week team challenge to increase steps and other physical activities in order to promote better health, motivation, productivity, and teamwork. Funds raised benefit UCP. For more information, contact John Hoskins at UCP at 577.2122, ext. 111. Register today at www.steptember.us and be

sure to reference the Modesto Chamber of Commerce when you do.

Finally, election season is around the corner, and it is imperative that we all do our civic duty and vote. To assist you in gathering information, the Modesto Chamber has interviewed all candidates running for Mayor, City Council and all of the contested races for Modesto Irrigation District and Modesto Board of Trustees. We will publish the results in our October issue of Progress. Please review these results; they are intended to help you become more informed before you vote. Get to know the candidates and their positions on the issues. Our future depends on us having very involved persons that will represent us well in these positions.

Cecil Russell

Chamber President and CEO

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