Glenn Morris, President & CEO, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce

Success in any arena requires a supportive environment, one where the conditions maximize the chances for success.    That lesson is obvious here as we look at the way particular crops flourish in the unique blend of soil, water, and weather available in our region.

The lesson holds true for businesses and communities in general.   When the environment is right, businesses stand a better chance of succeeding.   When businesses succeed, they provide jobs, pay taxes, support schools and non-profits, and generally create a community where families and individuals can thrive.   A supportive business climate includes predictable and reasonable regulations, an educational system that excels in preparing individuals to succeed at work and in life, and a quality of life that attracts top talent to come and work.

None of these elements, however, just appear.   Just like our ag partners invest significant time and resources in preparing the natural elements, communities must invest in preparing leaders who understand how to maximize the conditions for business and community success.

One of the ways Santa Maria has been investing in high quality leadership for the past twenty years is through the Leadership Santa Maria Valley program.   Annually, 15-18 individuals commit to a rigorous eleven-month program designed to increase their understanding of local issues and solutions, expand their personal and professional networks, refine their leadership skills, and find ways to give back to their community.   As the program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the alumni list of graduates will exceed 320 people.   Graduates of the program include individuals who lead local businesses, serve on boards of local organizations, and in general provide the leadership muscle needed to make our community thrive.

Leadership Santa Maria Valley is designed to expand the community’s civic leadership. Through an eleven-month program of monthly day-long workshops and seminars, participants engage in face-to-face discussions with experts and key decision-makers in areas of vital concern to the Santa Maria Valley. Spending time together in a small class atmosphere, individuals have an unprecedented opportunity to become aware of the current social and economic changes, and their impact on the Santa Maria Valley. It is also a prime opportunity to network and become acquainted with other existing and emerging community leaders.

Successful communities and businesses require strong leadership.  If you are ready to be part of the solution and leadership of the community, we encourage you to join Leadership Santa Maria Valley! Applications for the 2015-2016 class will open in late March on the Chamber’s website.