Interview – Trish Leads a New Chamber of Commerce

Trish Christensen
By Chris Murphy

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce has been a vital part of Modesto for over 100 years. As Modesto evolved in the early 1900s, it was all about our commerce, getting our goods and services to market and helping new businesses get started. Small and local business really is the key to a healthy economy. When we keep the dollars local, good things happen in our community and when we do business with people we know, it creates a great city. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce is there today, bringing local business together. This year, the Chamber took a bold step and named a community volunteer, fundraiser, non-profit event coordinator, and active school parent to the CEO position. Trish Christensen takes over the Modesto Chamber in a challenging time. Local businesses are being attacked by global online services at a time when now, more than ever we need to protect our local economy. I saw a great post on social media that read, “Shop Local – Amazon, won’t sponsor your kids’ soccer team”.

Trish has been a Beyer Band Booster leader, ran her own event and marketing company, has been a dedicated volunteer for the Amgen Tour, North Modesto Kiwanis Club events, MoBand, Boys and Girls Clubs of Stanislaus County, Stanislaus Family Justice Center, and so much more. She has spent her professional time in Modesto networking and creating teamwork for the greater good. This is what the Chamber needs; someone to bring focus on why we need a strong local business economy and how we all need to work together to find the better strength. Remember the old saying, Modesto Means Business? It is truer today than ever. Every dollar that stays in town funds our fire stations, schools, and supports another family and a strong economy attracts more business. Trish and her husband Charlie are great locally minded role models. Let’s meet Trish.

ModestoView: What do you believe is the role of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce?
Trish Christiansen: The Chamber has many roles, but the overarching role is to be the bridge. The Chamber has the opportunity to make a difference in all arenas of our community. We are here to promote business, support business, advocate for business, and build relationships to and between businesses but, it is more than just that. The Chamber is very multi-faceted. There is an understanding here that it takes many parts to enrich and nourish a community, an economy, and positive growth and outcomes. Between the various programs, committees, and purpose driven events, there is an intentional effort to support what we can in every local sector.

MV: Why do local businesses need the Chamber?
TC: We intend to be their go to resource! We may have a person who just launched a business and needs support and guidance. We may have a member expanding and struggling with the permit process, finances, or licenses. President’s tier members may have a desire to meet, mingle, and network with other president’s tier members. We have members that want to get LEED and Green Business certified. We have non-profits that need to find other similar service, or complimenting service non-profits to connect with to enhance their mission. We are in our own growth and development mode right now, but the things we are building are with all of them in mind. I anticipate SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to be coming back online in the next couple months. We are about to launch a Women in Business Mentorship Network, ReaCon Team outreach, and to collaborate on an array of other great projects and programs.

MV: You have long been a volunteer, fund raiser, band parent and have developed great relationships, how has that helped you in your role at the Chamber of Commerce?
TC: The crux of everything is found within our relationships. I love to be the person that is hearing a story and just happens to know who they should connect with to fulfill a need. Creating a network is essentially creating a web… bridges, ties, threads from one person to another. The same is true for business, community, partnerships, resources, a thriving economy… people are the center of each, it all comes down to the strength of our relationships, a multitude of relationships in various sectors, and our willingness to invest and to support one another, regardless of which path one is on. Through the years of my highly mixed bag of experiences, I have met a lot of people and generated meaningful relationships with a great many of them.

MV: How would you describe the current business environment in Modesto?
TC: I feel this is an exciting time to be in business here. There is an enormous amount of innovation and creativity at play. There is passion and focus on creation and reinvention. The downtown hub is at the beginning of evolution, yet there is effort to preserve the past in the look, feel, and design of the streets and store fronts – a conscientious effort to pay homage to where we came from and how our great city was founded. The timing is thrilling with 2020 being the 150th Anniversary of Modesto. Companies like Entekra brought their vision for building to Modesto, not just from another city or state, but from another country! They chose our community to expand to and happily hire our residents to work for them. From ag, manufacturing and building, education to profession, tech and trade training, the rapidly growing restaurant options, and our unique and well-rounded mix of art, Graffiti, wine and beer making, and music bringing our residents out to have fun and tourists intrigued to experience a piece of our way of life. All these elements lead to an engaging environment and equate to building blocks of a thriving local economy.

MV: What is the most pressing thing to be done or changed at the Chamber?
TC: The answer in my opinion is both simple and complex. The simple answer – It is time for the Chamber to start a totally new chapter with new colors, characters, and purpose. The complex answer has more elements. The Chamber originated as the Modesto Businessmen’s Association in 1912. Talk about a totally different era! The Chamber has gone through many era’s, decades, “looks and feels” in the last 108 years. In real time, when the tides turn, there is a point that the flow gets stagnate. It hits a slack tide period. The Chamber has become stagnate and we are now primed to change direction. The Chamber needs to surge into a new era and fresh start.

MV: What advice would you give a new start up business in Modesto?
TC: – Do your research! You also need to be patient and kind to yourself. You need to know where to go for answers, or who can help you get the answers. You need to trust your instincts and ask a lot of questions. Some starts ups are based on a great concept without many resources. They need support and they don’t have to walk that path alone. Some of those scenarios are a great fit for an incubator program. A place with built in resources to support the development and evolution of a startup. Maybe all you need is the Chamber to connect you to the right source, point you in the right direction for answers, or to put you in touch with a mentor. Watch for some great collaboration efforts to support new business developing soon.

MV: Do you think Modesto is a Classic American City
TC: Yes, for sure! Within our community we have houses built in the 1800’s, we showcase cars from the early 1900’s, our Fourth of July parade has taken place annually since 1874, we are the home of one of the world’s largest wineries, we are home to the world’s largest almond grower, and we love the arts! Theatre, music of the ages with a mix of genres, art, mural painting… movie makers, Olympic athletes, actors, singers – world renowned on all counts. So well rounded with the vibe of a small town. And we strive to keep as many events as possible, family friendly. Can’t be too much more All American then that!

MV: Describe your perfect Modesto day
TC: My favorite day can be set in either spring or fall – I love the colors of both, but with the greater mix colors in spring, it would win out if I had to choose. I enjoy Saturday morning strolls through Famer’s Market and spending time at the various vendors to sample their products and tidbits. This is when we choose the vegetables, we will prepare with Sunday dinner. Those that know me know I love to be outside. I enjoy walking my neighborhood with our dog and taking in the various landscapes of my neighbors. I would spend the afternoon gardening, weeding, or shopping for flowers and vegetables to plant. The day would be perfectly wrapped up by dinner at one of many of our favorite restaurants, a walk to a show at one of our cherished theaters, and then end the night with a leisurely conversation over wine with my family and/or friends at a downtown gathering spot.

MV: Beatles or Stones?
TC: Beatles…. They are the first rock and roll band I remember hearing an entire album of. I danced in my bedroom for hours to the songs on that album.

Read the extended interview at
Get more information at the Modesto Chamber of Commerce
1114 J St Modesto



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.