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San Benito
April 14, 2024

Gillio revives talk on funding full-time EDC director

Newly elected San Benito County Supervisor Jim Gillio acted on a priority for his first month in office: Revive talks to hire an economic development director for the county.

The county has been without a permanent economic development director since former EDC Director Nancy Martin departed the role in 2012 after four years on the job.

Before Martin’s hiring, local government and business interests had come together to increase funding toward the EDC director’s position with hopes of making the role more credible and professional. It was an attempt to inject energy into economic development and recruitment efforts.

Now Gillio wants to follow a similar path. He requested at the most recent county board meeting earlier this month that local governments revive talks on funding the position.

“I am hopeful that we can as a county board of supervisors we can allocate funding toward economic development for our entire region and I’m hopeful our other government partners can assist in funding a position,” Gillio said.

Gillio’s goal is to find someone to help recruit new businesses to the area and help existing businesses.

“We have a lot of economic activity right now and potential,” he said. “I think we need to harnass and focus that energy.”

Gillio believes the county should use revenue from the recently approved business license tax to help fund the position, which would likely come with a six-figure cost.

Of course, the county would likely want help from other government partners such as the City of Hollister.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the first goal should be “understanding what we’re trying to accomplish” with economic development. Velazquez said the tenure of Martin, which came in the midst of the latest recession, didn’t work out for a reason.

“Because nobody really understood what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “What are we trying to accomplish? How do we find the right person to accomplish it? That’s the No. 1 thing.”

Velazquez said if all the community is trying to do is build more homes, “we’re going to fail again.”

The number of homes in a community is often attached to the area’s ability to recruit some larger businesses. Velazquez said if a revived EDC director effort is used as a way to build more homes, he’s not in favor of it.

With Gillio making an official request for consideration on the matter, the idea is sure to crop up in political conversations in the near future.