By Gina Keough
Visitors and Convention Bureau Director ~

Thanks for the Memories, Dave Cross

It is with much sadness that I said goodbye recently to my good friend and colleague, Mr. Dave Cross, our former Economic and Development Director. I know he will continue to be a huge success, no matter what he undertakes, and that he will continue to be of service to this community that he loves.

Economic Development Commission Director Dave Cross shows off some of the innovative designs submitted for the logo contest.
Dave Cross

I have known Dave Cross and his family since I was fourteen years old and working at the preschool his children attended (my mom, Ester Keough, was their teacher).  So, I was very delighted when he came on board at the Chamber in 2009 to lead our Economic Development Commission.

Dave’s connection with the Chamber began in 1991, when he signed up his business, Next Day Signs (Main Street location) for membership.  He became a board member in 1996, serving as Chairman of the Board in 2001-2002.  He served as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee Chair, from 1991 until Bob Hatch, our previous President and CEO, retired and took on the role last summer. Dave Cross was named Citizen of the Year, 2009 and his business, Next Day Signs, was named Business of the Year, 1999.

Bob and Dave were involved in every aspect of financing, building and ongoing care of Santa Maria’s beautiful Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial. Bob received a visitor at the Chamber office one day, the mother of James Walker, who died in Vietnam. She said when she passes away, no one will remember her son.  That was the impetus for pursuing the building of a monument in Santa Maria that would forever memorialize those who served in battle and lost their lives in battle. Dave’s neighbor when he was younger, Mervyn Hargraves, went to Vietnam, but never returned. This hit home for Dave and made things personal with seeking the funding for a permanent and formal monument to be built here. Both men knew that if the Chamber of Commerce didn’t pursue this, who would? They made all decisions about the monument, designed everything about it, including the obelisks and the fountain, and Dave still has the scale model used in the design concept. Together with the City of Santa Maria, the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial was formally dedicated on Pearl Harbor Day, 2001.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Santa Maria Freedom Monument honors all the major conflicts and the veterans who served and gave their lives for their country. There are currently 100 veterans listed there. On December 8th of this year, the World War I plaque will be installed, with the names of 12 veterans, raising the total number listed to 112.  It was through the research of Jim Zemaitis and the Santa Maria Historical Society that those veterans were verified and will be fittingly honored.

Annual ceremonies over the years at the Santa Maria Freedom Monument include:

  • 2002- Vietnam Memorial Plaque
  • 2003 – Korean War Plaque Dedication
  • 2004- World War II Plaque Dedication
  • 2005- War on Terrorism Memorial Dedication
  • 2006- Plaque honoring John Smith
  • 2007- Dedicating the Shawn Dressler Plaque and the Order of the Purple Heart Plaque
  • 2008- Dedication of the American Woman Veteran Plaque
  • 2009- Honoring Local Veteran Groups and Veteran Groups Wall Plaques Dedication
  • 2010- Honoring Dan Johnson and Plaque
  • 2011- Lest We Forget- Remembering all of Santa Maria’s Fallen Heroes
  • 2012- Vandenberg Air Force Base Monument unveiling
  • 2013- Honoring Kenneth Alvarez- Plaque dedication and tree planting
  • 2014- Honoring Charles Walker and Phillip Hernandez & relocation of Kenneth Alvarez Plaque
  • 2015- WWI Plaque Dedication
Dave Cross, Economic Development Director
Dave Cross

Dave oversaw the Economic Development Commission during his time here and grew the Vandenberg Small Business Outreach to the outstanding event it is today, expanding as the economy began to recover.  This event helped small businesses learn the processes for working more closely with Vandenberg Air Force Base and its contractors.  Attendees included local businesspeople as well as those from all over California and out of state as well.

The Santa Barbara Energy Watch Partnership is one of the most impactful programs Dave managed.   Sponsored by PG&E and Southern California Gas, the program’s goal is to provide energy efficiency upgrades to municipalities and businesses in Northern Santa Barbara County. The Partnership assisted more than 300 businesses to become more energy efficient and focused on sustainability. Annual cost savings were significant for all.

While Dave worked with many new employers that have opened in the Santa Maria, countless entrepreneurs came to the Economic Development Commission for counsel and assistance as well. Dave worked closely from start to finish with these new business owners, putting them on the right path to grow and prosper. Local business owners who have benefited from Dave’s experience, expertise and insight include Maria’s Cre-Asian Diner, East Chapel Car Wash, the incoming Coco’s Mexican Food Restaurant and the Columbia Children’s Center.

Says Dave, relationship building is one of the best parts of his jobs and projects. Indeed, he was previously honored as Community Leader of the Year by the Boy Scouts of America. He has raised awareness of the manufacturing and industry in the Santa Maria Valley, and he has further strengthened our ties with Vandenberg Air Force Base. Dave is a US Army Veteran.  His community involvement includes serving as a SCORE counselor (Service Corps of Retired Executives) for 7 years; membership in the American Legion Post 534; chair of the original Santa Maria Incubator Project; and chair of the County of Santa Barbara County Oversight Committee.

He is also a published author. His book, Small Business Tune-up was published by Cypress Publishing, and was used as a business text book by Allan Hancock College from 2002-2005.

Dave will continue his work at Fletcher-Cross & Associates, working in land use and permit assistance, business and property development, and assisting clients with zoning and code compliance issues.  Dave can be reached at (805) 928-6463 or