Unique cooperative venture forms "Chamber University" with Area Chambers of Commerce and Educational Institutions

"Give me a C-H-A-M-B-E-R!" That's the cheer that will be heard at a pep rally style kick-off for the Chamber University on May 24, 5 p.m. at the Sportsmen of Stanislaus Club, 819 Sunset Avenue, Modesto.

The "Chamber U" is a unique cooperative effort between the Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Riverbank and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the Stanislaus County Economic Development Corporation, and higher education to provide professional training for local businesses and employees. Modesto Junior College, CSU, Stanislaus and the University of California, Merced will develop the course work based on the needs of and input from local businesses. "This is a unique situation where education is really coming together to meet the needs of the business community," explained Vickie Trask of CSU, Stanislaus.

The May 21 kick-off reception starts with a networking session from 5-6 p.m., followed by campus leaders from the three participating schools in a protocol signing ceremony that will formally establish the educational component of the Chamber University.

The first program offered is a multi-part Customer Service Training program that will take place in June, July and August. Modesto Junior College will teach the June session, the July session by Stanislaus State and the August session by UC Merced. Final course prices have not yet been determined, however, Trask states classes will be discounted from traditional Extended Education costs and will be affordable for small business owners. She noted classes will be conducted locally so employers won't have to send employees to Sacramento or the Bay Area for training. Each session will be priced separately and discounts will be offered for those who sign up for all three sessions. Those who complete all three segments will receive certificates.

A Steering Committee has been established to help guide the University through its first formative months. Serving on the committee are Joan Eader and Vickie Trask, CSU, Stanislaus; George Boodrookas and Elizabeth McDaniel, Modesto Junior College; Helen Sullivan, UC Merced; Sharon Silva, Turlock Chamber; Maria Davis, Stanislaus County Hispanic Chamber; Rose Mockel, Oakdale Chamber; Sheila Doberenz, Modesto Chamber; Kim Velasque, Riverbank Chamber; Kelly Bearden, Valley Sierra Small Business Development Center; & Anthony Diaz, Diaz Insurance Services.

The kick-off is open to Chamber members and the general public. For more information, call 571-6480 ext. 111.

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