EDC Sees New Partnerships, Prospects and Progress in 2017

My time here as the Economic Development Director has been 10 months!  At times it seems like I just arrived here and other times It seems as though this has been my home for a long time!  This year has flown by!  I have had so many great opportunities to help others and work on making a difference and an impact on the economic future of the Santa Maria Region.

This year has been focused on strengthening partnerships, supporting local businesses, facilitating new prospects, and continuing the effort to grow the Santa Maria economy.

My interactions included supporting prospects with planning process issues, sharing information about local market conditions with potential developers, and providing advocacy support as needed.

The Economic Development Commission is a department of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, which promotes the City of Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Public Airport District to prospective companies. It also provides an extensive array of retention programs geared toward strengthening the current base of industrial, retail and manufacturing.

My role is to continue the vision and work of the Economic Development Commission, which has been consistent in its advertising and marketing efforts, ensuring that Santa Maria is on the radar screen of companies looking to relocate and expand. The Chamber of Commerce provides the additional resources and support to accomplish the objectives, including

Promoting Santa Maria as a prime business location

Providing business information to potential and existing companies

Working directly with local agencies and commercial brokers to provide information, resources and contacts to meet specific needs of both new and expanding businesses

Partnering with agencies that provide incentives, workforce training, and outreach to businesses and organizations.

The EDC provides direct-contact help for business owners, startups, site selectors and commercial brokers. There have been 90 reported activities from site selectors and local businesses requesting specific assistance with needs ranging from understanding new state legislation to identifying new vendors/partners to locating facilities and working through the city regulatory process.

Additionally, we have started or continued to work with twenty-six business prospects.   Activities conducted in support of these projects included facilitating meetings with local regulators, circulating RFPs, and providing data about local business conditions and opportunities.   While the nature of these opportunities included everything from small retailers to large industrial projects, it is interesting to note that we have seen a marked increase in interest from hotel developers, with at least three specific developers engaging in various levels of due diligence.

A connection with the state economic development agency, GoBIZ has been established, and we are now included on various projects that they are assisting, which led to four specific RFPs that we were able to share with local developers.

The Chamber EDC website has gone through extensive research of advanced attraction tools to add to the site and those new tools were during the launch of the new and improved Chamber Website. These tools feature a Community Profile of the Santa Maria Valley, offering the ability for detailed information on specific demographic economic factors considered when research is done during the decision process of location or relocating a business to an area.

The EDC’s work is varied and with several different types of businesses and projects.  The chart to the right shows  a small sample of  the types of requests and activity we see on an ongoing basis.

Recognizing that the economic health of our community is not determined solely within the boundaries of the City, one of the goals was to increase and strengthen our relationships with partners in our region.  These partnerships will pay dividends as we leverage marketing, policy, and communication activities with organizations that share similar missions and priorities with us.

Specifically, this past year, we have strengthened and engaged with the following partners:

Economic Vitality Team of Santa Barbara County

Workforce Development Board/Workforce Resource Center

Softec

CalPoly

SCORE (SBA)

EconAlliance of Northern Santa Barbara County

City of Guadalupe

Energy and Ag Industry Outreach/Support

Local Educational Systems

I am thrilled to be here and see a bright future for the Santa Maria region. I continue to work with our business community, assisting them and serving their needs.  We work with local brokers, brokers from out of the area, in search of bringing new business to the community.  Our relationship with the city is strong and we continue to make improvements on the permitting process experience, providing customer service and an ease through the process. Our outreach for potential companies continues to be active and we continue to find matches for vacancies in the city.

The EDC is here for all businesses that are in need of assistance or connections to further their business success, and will continue to make sure that our smaller businesses thrive and are successful. Please feel free to always reach out to the EDC with your needs, concerns, comments, wish lists, etc.  The more I know, the more successful our results will be.