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VIA prepares to celebrate 30th anniversary

Posted: September 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Jorge Lopez, of J&M Entertainment and a former VIA chairman of the board, and Kathy Norris, president and CEO of VIA, research VIA’s archives as preparations are made for the 30th Anniversary Gala celebration.

Three decades ago, a group of approximately 20 Santa Clarita companies located in the Valencia Industrial Center banded together to advocate for transportation improvements in the business center.

Today, the nonprofit business organization is known as VIA, or the Valley Industry Association.

But back in 1981, six years before Santa Clarita became a city, only a single road led in and out of the industrial center, virtually trapping business owners and employees during an emergency situation. In an emergency, the only road in and out of the center was reserved for emergency vehicles.

Working together, business leaders were successful in securing an extension of Avenue Scott, allowing industrial-park residents and employees a secondary route for entering and exiting the area.

Encouraged by their success, the group of businesses formed the Valencia Manufacturers Association. Soon after, the group opened daycare facilities in the center to accommodate the number of working parents with limited daycare options.

Soon after, the organization formed a nonprofit corporation and changed its name to the Valencia Industrial Association. In 2004 VIA added “of Santa Clarita” to its name, and in 2010, changed its name again to better reflect the changing nature of businesses moving into the industrial park.

No longer solely an industrial area populated by manufacturing companies, VIA became known as the Valley Industry Association of Santa Clarita.

When American Business Machines chose Santa Clarita for the company’s fourth location last year, Chris Chapleau asked around about where he could connect with the local business community.

“By asking many local business owners, it became clear that the Valley Industry Association was instrumental for any business serious about reaching out to the local community,” Chapleau said.

“We joined immediately and signed up for the 2011 Business to Business (B2B) show. The show was a great success and led to the development of many contacts in the local community, some of whom have already become customers as a result.”

The staff and board have been tremendously supportive in giving American Business Machines the chance to prove itself as a quality office-equipment and software-solutions provider, Chapleau said.

On Oct. 14, VIA is throwing an Old World Masquerade ball at the Hyatt Regency Valencia to celebrate its 30-year anniversary and three decades of successes. Attendees, whether dressed in black-tie attire or period costume, are encouraged to dress in black and white.

In honor of the anniversary, VIA is also producing a black-and-white glossy tribute book highlighting VIA’s history, successes and achievements. It includes features of companies and people who were significant in VIA’s history.

Sponsors and tables are still open for booking at the momentous celebration.

Bayless Engineering and Manufacturing is serving as the title sponsor, followed by The Signal, SCV Business Journal, Bob Comer Print Sales, Atkins Environmental HELP, Burrtec Waste Industries, College of the Canyons, LBW Insurance and Financial Services, Galpin of Santa Clarita, Gruber Systems, Inc., Poole & Shaffery, LLP, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Status Not Quo, Storm Water Resources and The Master’s College.

Who should attend?  Anyone who has been a part of VIA’s history, or plans to be a part of the organization’s future, said Kathy Norris, CEO and president. 

“VIA’s 30th anniversary event on Oct. 14 will honor many of the folks instrumental in making us the successful group of business leaders we are today, Norris said.

“We’ll bring VIA’s rich history into focus, showcase our many successes and offer a view of our future.”

For more information about the “Old World Masquerade” ball, tribute book or the Valley Industry Association of Santa Clarita, call (661) 294-8088 or go online at


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