By Mark Blackney
The metaphor of the three legged stool is applied to many organizations. In education, the legs represent the parents, administration and teachers. CEO’s consider achievement, trust and “personal” For business, the legs mean product/services, marketing and financial management. Cities consider environment, economy and society. Even our federal government has the legislative, judicial and executive branches. In every case, each leg has equal importance.
When considering the role of the Chamber in our community I realized that our three legged stool would be the city, CUSD and the Chamber. They represent government, education and business. All three must work together and be successful for the city to thrive.
In Clovis, that stool is very stable. By being well run, the city is able to support our education system and business. CUSD brings quality citizens who believe in education and create new business. The Chamber works with the city on economic development while supporting the schools. All three are connected and all three are successful.
If you want an instant pick-me-up, attend the Mayor’s Breakfast in May and the CUSD Breakfast in September. When you hear all the positive reports about the city and schools, you’ll really appreciate living in Clovis.
What they report is not spin. No pie-in-the-sky exaggerations about budgets or revenues. When times were tough, they honestly told us the bad news but always assured us that they were paying attention and making smart moves to pull us out of the recession. It worked.
In May, Mayor Lynne Ashbeck told us about how the city budget is healthy with growing reserves. Just having any reserves is a miracle for most cities and ours are approaching 14%. Staff is being rehired and cutbacks reinstated.
I was pleased to hear that the annual 4% increase in our garbage rates was stopped several years ago and discounts will soon be offered for people opting for the smaller totes. I thought utility fees were only going up everywhere.
The much contested Clovis Crossings Shopping Center is up and running and experiencing above budget sales. Several new stores and restaurants will be open soon. The increased customer base it has brought to Clovis has overflowed to other areas as several longtime vacant stores on Shaw Avenue have new tenants. The new WalMart Grocery has opened at Shaw and Fowler and work is being completed on the Burlington Coat Factory in the old Vons at Shaw and Minnewawa.
New jobs are being created and new homes are being built. All are good signs. During this past week we heard CUSD Superintendent Janet Young tell us details about our award winning district. Enrollment is up by over 900 students, another sign of growth in Clovis.
The schools continue to be academic powerhouses. With a district wide API score of over 800 points, CUSD is the number one school in districts of more than 26, 000 students.
CUSD is the only district in the country to have all five middle schools recognized as Schools to Watch.
19 of the 23 Valley Championships were won by Clovis schools in the last year.
For the 14th straight year, CUSD won the International Meritorious Budget Award for its smart budgeting. This is an amazing feat considering that CUSD receives $1,700 less per child than other Valley districts. That’s $56 million before this year’s realignment by the government. After realignment, CUSD will receive $3,900 less per child but through the efforts of the administration, teachers and parents the district will survive quite well. As Superintendent Janet Young stated, “No excuses, just results”.
It just goes to show, it’s not the money that makes success. It’s the attitude and hard work.
The community recognizes and approves CUSD’s efforts as it received an 86.6% approval rating from CUSD parents.
The Clovis Chamber is the third leg of the stool and we’re proud of the responsibility. Growing the local economy and enhancing the Clovis Way of Life is our mission. By working with our members, we help their businesses grow and hire more people.
The Clovis Chamber is recognized for its networking events and advice. Our monthly mixers attract over 100 business people and our seminars are well attended. We are recognized as the 43rd out of 700 national chambers, fifth in the state, for our use of social media where we highlight various members and promote the Clovis Chamber brand.
It’s paying off. As of June, we had signed more new members than all of 2012. Many are starting their own businesses yet others are long time or brand new larger businesses who recognize the value of a Clovis Chamber membership.
They’re smart to do that. A recent survey showed that 2/3 of respondents feel that a chamber member business is more responsible and support the community. That’s powerful for any company’s reputation.
The Chamber is serving on the Economic Development Advisory Committee with the city. We are learning about plans for the future and giving input on the city’s growth. This is important because the economy of the future will be like nothing we have ever seen.
Our support of Clovis Unified is unwavering. We know the importance of education for the Valley’s future. We appreciate CUSD’s support of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and their work to recruit participating students. We also are concentrating on stopping the “brain drain” by working on ways to entice our graduates to stay or return to the Central Valley to raise their families.
And, of course, our events, BIG Hat Days and ClovisFest are not only economic drivers, they are also a source of much community pride. It’s a time the city is able to show off to visitors who see what a gem we have in the middle of the Central Valley.
With any piece of good, quality furniture, our three legged stool must be well tended and each leg must continue to support the others. With smart, dedicated people overseeing each leg, I’m sure it will hold up for many years to come.