1114 J Street, Modesto, CA 95354 - Phone: 209.577.5757 - Fax: 209.577.2673|Sunday, January 21, 2018
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Message from the CEO – January ’15 

Cecil Russell

Chamber CEO,
Cecil Russell

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and is looking forward to a prosperous 2015. There will be many challenges and opportunities for our community in the coming year. There will be decisions on economic and geographic growth, including a major land use determination that will affect Modesto’s geography for decades to come. Later in this year’s elections, the citizens of Modesto will vote on who our local elected officials will be for the next four years, with contests for the Mayor and three city council seats. All of these events will have long-lasting impacts on the future of Modesto and surrounding communities. We stay committed to advocating for commerce by being a strong voice for business concerns and building strong, healthy collaborations with other local organizations who are striving to make the community a better place to live and work.

The Board of Directors for the Chamber are often the unsung heroes that make everything we do possible. In January the chamber transitions between outgoing and incoming Board Members. We want to take this time to THANK our retiring Board members and to WELCOME the new ones. The contributions of our Board enable the Chamber to be the strong business organization that it needs to be to serve you and help to build a better quality of life for the entire community.

Our RETIRING board members are Kristi Ah You of Franklin & Downs Funeral Home; Daniel Garcia of Tri Counties Bank; David Halvorson of American Chevrolet; and Ruben Villalobos of the Villalobos Legal Group. Their service has brought value to this organization and I cannot thank them enough. We have two Board members that will be continuing their board service: Kole Siefken from the DoubleTree Hotel and Laura Ward from Ward Promotions; I thank them for their continuing support by serving on the Board again. Our NEW elected Board members are Peggy O’Donnell from Mid-Valley Promotions; Mike Garcia from Oak Valley Community Bank; Virginia Madueo from Imagen Public Relations; and Tom Nielsen from Beard Land and Investment. We thank these individuals and their businesses for joining our Board and I look forward to a very fruitful year of serving with them in the trenches.

We will be celebrating these retiring and new Board members, along with remarkable individuals and businesses, at our upcoming 101st Annual Gala and Member Choice Awards on Saturday, January 31st. This event is held at the Gallo Center for the Arts, and is a time of exemplary food and drink from local businesses, peer-nominated awards, and stellar live entertainment from local musicians (and school children). I hope you can attend the Gala, which is sure to be one of the premier events of 2015.

The Chamber had a busy and fruitful year in 2014. We continued to raise funds for local students involved in agriculture through Ag Aware and Harvest Lunch. We joined forces with the Alliance to produce workshops for ADA awareness and lawsuit prevention, and to attract new businesses to our region. We successfully worked on getting pledges for air service between Modesto and Los Angeles, helping to raise over $1.5 million in ticket pledges. We worked with the local Farm Bureau and MID on numerous water-related issues, including the relicensing of Don Pedro and La Grange dams, and preserving the historical water rights of MID and TID. We also helped to get business-friendly candidates elected to the MID Board. We worked with the education community on Destination Graduation and held a packed “State of Education” event explaining Common Core. We worked with the City of Modesto to attract new businesses and restaurants to our downtown, as part of a serious push for revitalization that continues into 2015. We partnered with the Alliance on our “State of the Region” event covering economic issues for our County. This event featured a presentation by U.S. Congressman Jeff Denham and all of the State elected officials for our area on one stage for a Q&A feature – a feat that had never been achieved. We also had one of the best attended Oktoberfest events in Northern California. These are just a few of the many things that your Chamber accomplished on behalf of you and your business in 2014.

New Year is traditionally a time of year that we welcome change, both in our private and our professional lives. Usually this change revolves around commitments to alter our routines or break habits for the betterment of our health, family and/or our careers. I am sure that this year for most of us will be similar. When looking for inspiration for positive changes, we can look at Modesto’s historic slogan: WATER-WEALTH-CONTENTMENT-HEALTH. Despite a wet December, we need more WATER and need to make Happy_New_Yearssolid decisions to protect this resource. This will in turn help drive a more robust economy. A growing economy will lead to more jobs and help create WEALTH. We can all work toward a lifestyle that focuses on HEALTH. Each of these components together create a more vibrant community that will assist with the last part of our slogan, CONTENTMENT. If each of us, as individuals, groups, businesses and community organizers, work together we can make huge strides toward WATER-WEALTH-CONTENTMENT-HEALTH. I, along with the Chamber staff, look forward to working hand-in-hand with our business members and all members of OUR community towards a productive and prosperous 2015!

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