- By: Lorraine Salazar, Owner of Sal’s Mexican Restaurant Group
A big “Muchas Gracias” to your Fresno Chamber of Commerce staff, Board Members and sponsors for making the Annual Installation Banquet held Friday, January 30th a great success. Over 330 Chamber members, clients and friends enjoyed visiting with other business and community leaders while being entertained by truly talented singers, musicians and dancers from the our schools and community.
This was the Chamber’s 121st annual installation, the oldest ongoing annual public event in the Fresno community. Your Chamber has been actively at work representing and serving local businesses since 1885. Our overarching purpose is and always has been to help make the Fresno area a great place to live, work and to conduct business.
Your Chamber leadership is proactively involved in representing and protecting the key interests of the businesses in our community. That’s a much broader mission and scope than just advocacy and promotion of business. We provide the business community with opportunities to work together with all other stakeholders in our community, including government, education and the many non-profit organizations who share our concerns for the community, the Valley and its diverse peoples.
Our theme for the evening was “The Arts – Nicety or Necessity.” As Al Smith, your Chamber President noted, the arts in schools and education play a crucial role in preparing students to be engaged, well-rounded citizens in our community. That, as it turns out, is of great importance to us as employers and businesses.
Students involved in the arts are three times less likely to drop out of school and three times more likely to graduate from college. Their academic performance and test results improve measurably. Many also volunteer for activities and organizations working to promote the well-being of our communities.
No surprise that learning art and performance requires them to analyze and solve new and sometimes difficult problems. That develops patience and persistence, important character skills necessary for success in school, work and life.
Funding for the arts in schools has experienced severe budget cutbacks over the last decade. I’m gratified to tell you it has largely been the business community and chamber members who stepped in to help. This includes a number of the board members and businesses who attended that evening.
We must continue and even step up our partnership with the educational community to ensure the next generations have the skills and interest in building better lives for themselves and their community and country. What specific steps are you willing to take to increase your company’s and personal commitment to partner with education to enhance the future prosperity and well-being of our community?