Santa Maria Valley - Around Town

Santa Maria looking northeast from City Hall.

We are entering a perfect storm for all residents to influence the future of Santa Maria and the region.

First, we are past the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and most of the associated restrictions. There is still much work to do to help those that were most impacted. However, there is a feeling of optimism for economic recovery.

Second, the City of Santa Maria is going through the process of updating their General Plan to guide the growth and development of the City for the next 20 years.

All community stakeholders are encouraged to provide input to the process that will create the City's vision for decades to come.

Third, there are many new regional developments that could impact the future of the Santa Maria Valley, including the growth of the commercial space industry at Vandenberg Space Force Base and the possible construction of a specialized port facility in San Luis Obispo County to service offshore wind farms.

The mission of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce is to be a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for a stronger Santa Maria Valley. The Chamber is in great shape to continue the actions of this mission statement to do its part during the above-described perfect storm.

Chamber President and CEO, Glenn Morris, is second to none as a Chamber executive and leader. His highly experienced staff does an amazing amount of quality work with the provided budget.

As the incoming board chair, I am blessed to be working with these exceptional professionals, as well as my fellow business leaders who are serving on the Chamber board. The talent, passion, and experience that we have in our local business community is impressive.

To focus the energies of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the staff and board recently developed strategic priorities aligned with the organization’s mission.

These include:

Strengthen local talent pipeline. To have a vital community we must create opportunities to keep our youth in the area, create a strong workforce, have access to higher education opportunities, develop leaders and create tools to attract/retain talent. The Chamber has many programs to meet this goal, including our new Junior CEO program which will launch this Fall.

Edgar Gascon: Serving as the Santa Maria Valley Chamber Board Chairman during 2020 was a great experience that allowed me to learn more about my community, the way the city works, and how our Chamber fosters an environment for business development & growth.

Engage businesses and community leaders. There must be a strong dialogue between business and community leaders about issues that affect the vitality of our local economy. The Chamber has a dozen different programs, some very extensive, to help meet this strategic goal. Committees like the Business & Government Roundtable bring local leadership together to discuss advocacy issues. Events like the State of the City and newly implemented State of the County & State of the State events keep our community engaged and informed with local issues.

And publications like our newly created “Business, #SantaMariaStyle” quarterly magazine allow us to share stories and information with the masses. The Chamber has also continued to make regional engagement a priority, and is involved in a number of regional groups including the REACH organization and the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers.

Enhance and market community identity/attractiveness. This strategic priority includes attracting new business development that creates jobs while maintaining our quality of life. By housing the Chamber, Economic Development Commission and Visitors Bureau under one roof, our organization is uniquely positioned to share what’s great about our community both internally to local residents, and externally to potential visitors and new businesses. This strategy priority also includes embracing our multicultural heritage and future, and educating people on why the Santa Maria Valley is a great place to live, work, play and do business.

Grow local business activity. This strategy includes many of the foundational programs of the Chamber and supports increased economic activity in our community through business growth, visitor expenditures and stronger business connections.

My goal as the new chair of the Chamber and a local business leader is to embrace and promote these strategic priorities. We have the perfect storm of opportunities to participate in the future economic vitality and quality of life in the Santa Maria Valley.

Jason Anderson is the Digital Producer for the Santa Maria Times. He can be reached at 805-739-2213