Happy 40th Anniversary VIA 40 Years of Serving SCV Businesses
The Valley Industry Association celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2021. And what an amazing 40 years it has been! VIA has a rich history of serving business in the Santa Clarita Valley and as we enter our 40th anniversary year, we wanted to share the story of our humble beginnings along with the growth we’ve experienced that make us the organization we are today.
Several factors contributed to VIA’s original formation. By the late 1970s, it had become apparent that a special group was needed to center their attention solely around businesses in the Valencia Industrial Center. Other organizations existed, but they largely represented retail businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Industrial Park had rapidly become a major industrial base but was not able to get the full services it needed. Traffic problems already existed and a large area fire in 1979 drove home the need for action.
HR Textron and Lockheed were the companies who had the most clout so it was not surprising when Sam Garcia, President of HR Textron, and his assistant at the time, Connie Worden-Roberts, initiated talks with other businesses about how to structure an organization that could address the needs of industry in the Industrial Park.
Up until this time, the political power of individual businessmen was fragmented. An organization that would enable companies to speak with a unified voice was sought and VIA was born.
The group’s preliminary focuses centered around roads, transportation, maintenance, education and basic services for employees. The Association was intended to be a vehicle for conveying information between businesses and allowed for participation by groups of all sizes. Discussions grew from the initial topics to include issues such as workers compensation, medical services and real estate.
VIA was officially formed as a 501 © (6) corporation on February 9, 1981. First known as the Valencia Manufacturers Association, the original corporate officers were Craig Johansen, President (representing HR Textron), Jim Pugh, Vice President (representing Foxboro), Ross Hopkins, Secretary (representing Lockheed) and Lou Garasi, Treasurer (representing Gruber Systems).
Since that time, VIA has grown in leaps and bounds. Originally organized with just 20 company members, today VIA represents hundreds of businesses from wide reaching industries. VIA is a strong pro-business advocate for its members with local, state and federal legislators, helps member business grow by building new clientele and relationships with other SCV and adjacent area companies, and works in conjunction with the City of Santa Clarita and other like-minded organizations in attracting new business to the area, while retaining its existing business base.
Through bi-annual CEO Forums, annual survey projects, monthly luncheon meetings, the VIA BASH, Leadership Program, Breakfast Club, summit meetings on urgent topics and continuing one-on-one communication with its membership, VIA continues to offer value to its membership and to provide a large, collective voice for the Santa Clarita Valley.
Additionally, VIA is dedicated to education programs. Through a unique partnership of the Valley Industry Association and College of the Canyons, a very successful Employee Training Institute for our valley was created, training and retraining thousands of employees since its inception.
VIA’s dedication to education also extends to the emerging workforce. Through the VIA Connecting to Success Program, VIA has served as a leader in delivering necessary workplace skills training to high school students. Each year, 3000+ high school juniors receive training in critical workplace skills such in areas such as communication, ethics and financial literacy.
VIA is proud of its history and its growth and we are delighted to be celebrating 40 years of success. Thank you for your support – here’s to the next 40!
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