By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Women wore gowns the color of midnight, deep shades of blue or scarlet red, and men dressed in elegant tuxes while they intermingled and broke into boisterous laughter.
Santa Clarita Valley residents, business owners and political leaders welcomed the return of the in-person, 40th Annual VIA Bash at the Hyatt Regency Valencia last week. The Valley Industry Association of Santa Clarita has represented business interests throughout the valley for many years, and VIA members host a bash to recognize a business leader in the community, as well as fundraise for their VIA Education Foundation.
“VIA is a business-to-business organization dedicated to manufacturing and industrial companies and the service industries that support them,” said Kathy Norris, VIA CEO and president. “One of our main goals is making sure that all us folks can get connected and be invested in each other’s success.”
VIA connects business owners, as well as legislators, school districts and other stakeholders with the goal to empower and support SCV’s business industry, added VIA Chairwoman Hillary Broadwater.
A ruby anniversary celebrates 40 years, so the theme of this year’s event was the ruby ball, according to Broadwater.
Both Broadwater and Norris said they were overjoyed to be able to host the bash in person after having to organize it online last year. They both agreed that attendees were just as glad or even more so to be back in person through their smiles and laughter.
The bash serves as VIA’s fundraising event, which benefits the VIA Education Foundation – a nonprofit founded in 2007 to support VIA’s education programs. The foundation has funded various programs such as VIA Connecting to Success and VIA Star throughout the years.
In addition, VIA’s education committee offers classes on the subjects of taxes, work ethics, social media, resume building and more to high school students throughout the SCV.
“Business leaders act as facilitators to deliver the curriculum to students,” Norris said. “Just walking into the classroom, when we do this, you can see the light turn on in a student’s head. They understand the skills they’ll need when they enter the workforce.”
Local and state political leaders joined in the night’s festivities and also presented VIA with certificates recognizing its 40 years of service to the SCV business community.
“The mentorship, too, is so important,” said state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. “(By) helping so many young people, some of them don’t have the skills to join the workforce because they haven’t been exposed to it, so you’re planting seeds that could potentially take over the world.”
Representatives from a wide range of companies and institutions, such as College of the Canyons, Vance Wealth, American Family Funding, Mission View, SOS Entertainment and more, who are VIA members, attended the event and celebrated their contributions to the business community.
“There’s no reason not to join an organization that is pro-business, and that will help promote your business,” Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda said. “None of us are complete experts in the business. Valley Industry Association has programs to help you fill in those gaps.”