Hollister City Council members this week joined the county board by indicating they will infuse new financial life into two local organizations focused on economic development.
The council in a 3-2 vote indicated support for allocating $100,000 to the Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County for five years starting in fiscal year 2019-20 and, in a separate consideration, showed unanimous consent for another $50,000 annually to the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce starting next fiscal year.
That came about a month after the county board OK’d boosting its $35,000 allocation to four economic development groups to $67,000 for this fiscal year along with a tentative commitment to issue $100,000 annually for the following five years to the EDC.
Aside from the EDC and chamber, the county splits smaller portions of its funding to two Monterey Bay organizations.
The tentative approval by the council – the staff will bring back official resolutions – nearly culminates efforts to reinvigorate funding toward the EDC and chamber in particular as part of a push by County Supervisor Jim Gillio shortly after he took office earlier this year.
The EDC plans to spend up to $140,000 – of the $200,000 total allocation from the city and county – toward annual pay and benefits for a new executive director.
The local governments last gave significant funding to the EDC about seven years ago when the previous executive director, Nancy Martin, departed the role. Her tenure lacked results but also coincided with the Great Recession.
The chamber lost favor with the city, and its council-approved funding, after the departure last year of former Executive Director Juli Vieira.
“Now is a real good time to advance economic development in the county,” Aaron Johnston, chairman of the EDC board, told council members Monday night.
Some of the projects discussed for the EDC include a business attraction plan, boosting the wine trail, bringing in better broadband access and developing co-working space, Johnston said.
The chamber funding is expected to go toward basic expenses and tourism promotion. The council agreed to another $2,500 to the chamber to fund efforts from the Pinnacles Gateway Partners organization.