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Three Receive CalChamber Small Business Advocate of the Year Award
SACRAMENTO, CA— The California Chamber of Commerce honored business executives from Modesto, Riverside and Simi Valley today with its “2013 Small Business Advocate of the Year” award, recognizing them for outstanding advocacy on behalf of small businesses.
The CalChamber presented the awards in Sacramento before more than 200 attendees at the CalChamber Legislative Briefing.
The 2013 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recipients are:
Craig Lewis, president, California Prudential Realty, Modesto;
Robert Stockton, principal, Rick Engineering Company, Riverside; and
Jim Vigdor, operations/environmental health and safety manager, Alcoa Fastening Systems, Simi Valley.
Craig Lewis has been the Modesto Chamber’s ardent advocate for achieving substantial and fundamental economic growth in the greater Modesto area.
Upon discovering that the City of Modesto General Plan had not been updated for 18 years, Lewis and the chamber’s land use and transposition committee began planning for a better future for Modesto.
He rallied business members to participate in the chamber’s land use and transportation committee and increased the frequency of committee meetings. Thanks to Lewis, the committee now consists of approximately 40–45 community leaders and stakeholders and meets twice a month.
Under his direction, the committee held critical information-gathering discussions with a variety of local government officials, community leaders and stakeholders. Based on the information gathered in the meetings, Lewis and the committee developed well thought-out plans to create job centers, new, functional traffic corridors and detailed maps depicting these plans for the greater Modesto area.
The plans were presented to critical and influential decision makers in the Modesto community to solicit support for transportation improvements, employment opportunities and a stronger local economy.
Thanks to Lewis’ hard work, the proposed plan has gained much support and has a chance of influencing decisions made by the city and county of Modesto that will have a favorable impact on the local area for decades to come.
“Craig has positively impacted our community by not only discussing, but taking action on land use and transportation and other pressing issues facing the Modesto and San Joaquin Valley communities,” said Cecil Russell, president of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.
Lewis serves on the Modesto Chamber Board of Directors as vice chairman of external operations and is the chairman of the Modesto Chamber’s land use and transportation committee.
As the 2012–13 and 2011–12 chair of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Economic Development Council, Robert Stockton has been instrumental in leading the chamber’s efforts to build a strong local economy though business attraction and retention strategies, as well as advocating practical and business-friendly policies in environmental regulation and land use.
As a member of the City of Riverside Planning Commission, Stockton has recently been involved with the Greater Riverside Chamber’s efforts to modernize the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
In 2012, Stockton assisted the chamber’s efforts to partner with the City of Riverside in commissioning the Regional Intelligence Reporter, a study to indentify the baseline economic indicators in specific industries that will have an impact on inland Southern California in the future.
Stockton continues to step forward on several issues having an impact on the business community, including advocacy to ease negative impacts from environmental and air quality regulations. He previously testified before Representatives Ken Calvert (R-Corona), Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) and Tom McClintock (R-Roseville) on negative impacts that a critical habitat designation for the Santa Ana sucker fish would have on the region’s access to water.
In nominating Stockton for the award, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce President and CEO Cindy Roth said, “It is individuals like Robert who maintain countless hours of service, tireless work ethic and unyielding commitment to our chamber mission and its members, which keeps our businesses thriving.”
For more than 10 years Jim Vigdor has “worked tirelessly to improve the local business climate though the adoption of business-friendly legislation and practices at the local, state and federal levels,” wrote
Leigh Nixon, president and CEO of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Vigdor serves on the chamber board. Following 10 years of active participation on the Simi Valley Chamber’s Legislative Advocacy Forum, he serves as the 2013 committee chair.
In this capacity he routinely participates in the CalChamber’s weekly legislative conference calls and is working on significant changes to the Simi Valley’s website to facilitate members’ communications with state and federal elected officials.
He works hard to make sure that his representatives at all levels of government hear and consider the concerns of the business community. His first advocacy effort on behalf of the business community came when he realized the negative impact workers’ compensation costs were having on his own business. As a result, he became involved in the Simi Valley Chamber and found it was a place where his voice could be heard, giving him the confidence to take his concerns to elected officials.
Because of Vigdor’s strong ties to the local community, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) asked Vigdor to be an ambassador in the district. In this role, Vigdor serves as an advocate for Gorell and a surrogate at events and meetings, reporting on Gorell’s positions. Vigdor also takes the pulse of the community and reports back to Gorell’s staff on the district’s concerns. Federal Representative Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) also recognizes Vigdor as a leader in the community, and invited him to a two-year term as a delegate to the Republican Party.
Small Business Advocate Award recipients are nominated by local chamber of commerce executives. The criteria used in the selection process include taking leadership roles in or working on federal, state or local ballot measures, testifying before the state Legislature and representing a local chamber of commerce before local government.
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