By Teresa Todd, Point of View Communications and VIA Chairwoman of the Board
**Spoiler Alert: Game of Thrones reference**
The long-awaited final installment of HBO’s Game of Thrones did not disappoint. The buzz surrounding the premiere filled social media channels, occupied mind space, and hijacked conversations. For those not familiar with the epic fantasy, the storyline chronicles the dynastic struggles among the realm’s noble families. In its final season, the kingdoms come together – or at least try – for their survival. The concept of working together is foreign to many and not part of their culture.
The Santa Clarita business community chronicles a far different storyline. There has always been a collaborative nature to the work of business support organizations – the Valley Industry Association, the SCV Economic Development Corporation, and the SCV Chamber of Commerce – to be a valuable resource and business partner to local businesses. While goals similarly align – ensuring high quality jobs, accelerating economic growth, facilitating professional development, linking businesses to resources and markets – each has a specific mission, function, and role.
VIA has represented business interests in the Santa Clarita Valley industrial centers since 1981. The VIA membership – comprised of industrial, commercial and service companies – use VIA as a conduit to connect with other business leaders for collaboration on a broad range of issues. The industry-focused organization also serves as a one-stop shop for relevant business information, supports local educational initiatives, and provides opportunities for peer-to-peer connections. Through advocacy, VIA is a voice to the city, regional, state, and federal government on regulatory issues.
VIA has enjoyed the support of the valley’s top executives over the years both in membership and the CEO Forum, a collaboration of decision makers to identify common business and community issues, while developing solutions.
In 1995, VIA sponsored its first CEO Forum, bringing together chief executives, community leaders and educators to discuss the business community’s training needs and workforce plans. CEOs emphasized the need to retool the local workforce if they were to successfully diversify from defense to commercial manufacturing and expand into new markets. As a result, VIA and the College of the Canyons Employee Training Institute worked to fund a retraining initiative in the area. Today, millions of training fund dollars to support skill upgrades have been provided to thousands of local employees.
The Forum convened in 1999 to focus on key skills for success in the rapidly changing economy. In 2002, CEOs voiced an overwhelming need for entry level employees to be equipped with fundamental skills and work ethics. From that need, Connecting to Success, a high school work readiness program, was developed.
In 2004, the Forum indicated a clear goal for local businesses to develop outreach to adjacent counties that resulted in the creation a tri-county Regional Executive Summit with special focus on workforce housing and mobility. In 2009, CEOs reiterated that basic skills and access to a skilled workforce continued to be top priorities. VIA expanded the Connecting to Success Program and continued to support the business initiatives of College of the Canyons to help ensure a steady supply of skilled workers.
It’s time again for the CEO Forum to convene. The VIA Advocacy Committee will survey the local business community in the coming months and invite leaders to a high-level collaboration and problem-solving session. It’s through initiatives and inputs from key business leaders and influencers that VIA will continue to have its finger on the pulse of the business community providing relevant, timely programs to help SCV businesses grow and thrive.
If you are interested in participating in the upcoming VIA survey and/or attending the VIA CEO Forum slated in August, contact VIA CEO Kathy Norris at 661.294.8088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.