Goleta Chamber and Area Businesses Launch Masks4Biz Program to Provide Masks for Frontline Workers

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce partnered with local companies and the City of Goleta to launch Masks4Biz and provide the frontline staff of Goleta businesses with standard paper masks.  The Chamber recognizes the importance of these essential workers, who interact with the public daily to keep local grocery stores, restaurants, banks, gas stations, hardware stores, and more operational. With this community initiative, the Chamber hopes to support the health of essential workers, flatten the curve, and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The goal of Masks4Biz is to gift Goleta businesses with their first round of masks in recognition of their community dedication, and offer to help procure additional masks if needed.

 

“The Chamber and community are so grateful for our essential workers who are helping to keep our grocery stores and restaurants running,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “We want to offer this extra layer of protection by distributing masks to our area businesses.”

 

The Chamber has sourced masks from a vendor that does not compete with masks within the medical supply chain. In the next week, the Chamber team will distribute 20,000 masks with the goal of providing workers with enough masks to cover their face for 2-3 weeks.  Each mask can be worn twice by an employee.

 

To enact this initiative, many local organizations and businesses offered support, including American Riviera Bank, Apeel Sciences, City of Goleta, Community West Bank, Deckers Brands, Kathy Odell – WEV, LogMeIn, Montecito Bank and Trust, Transphorm and Village Properties. The impact of this support was felt immediately.

“We’ve been working toward re-opening with limited service, and one of our challenges was where to get masks,” said Lisa Boelter, co-owner of Anna’s Bakery. “We were so relieved when the Goleta Chamber emailed us the offer to help.  Now we can resume our place in the heart of the community, at least in a small way.”

 

MASKS4Biz is one small way the Goleta Chamber is responding to the pandemic and economic crisis in Goleta.  For more information on this and other programs see the Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource page on their website. (https://goletachamber.com/community/covid-19-info/)

 

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The Goleta Chamber of Commerce represents 450 members and 30,000 jobs in the region.  Operating since 1947, the Chamber envisions a community where businesses flourish, residents thrive, and visitors are inspired by our exceptional quality of life. 

 

Goleta Hotels Offer Discounts to Remote Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak

Hotels in Goleta are opening their doors to people working remotely.

Amid the shelter-in-place order related to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, hotels are suffering, and many employees are not allowed to work in the office unless it is regarded as an essential service.

The hotels are offering rooms that come with a desk, free WiFi and other business services.

“We are located in the Goleta high-tech area,” said Patricia Kimball, director of sales for the Hilton Garden Inn. “We have been hearing some feedback that they have challenges with WiFi or VPN or connectivity, or a lot of  people don’t have desks or space in their homes.”

The Hilton Garden Inn, 6878 Hollister Ave., has guest rooms including work space, high-speed Internet and Keurig coffee services for $80 a day plus taxes. It also has event spaces for $50 per day plus tax. Prices are valid for an eight-hour work day. The 24 marketplace offers snacks and beverages for purchase

“We are just trying to be part of the community and stay afloat and give employees an opportunity to work,” Kimball said.

At the Hampton Inn, 5665 Hollister Ave., General Manager Christine Heinrich said that “a lot of people are hurting right now.”

She said a lot of people are in flux, but the hotel wants to help people while also trying to bring business to the hotel. The rooms give people their own space to get work done.

She said no advance notice is needed, and people can just walk in if they need a room for the day or night.

“We are very flexible with the hours,” Heinrich said.

The Hampton Inn has guest rooms available for $65, and a half-day rate for five hours anytime between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. for $45. The hotel has one board room available for full day use for $50 a day.

Click here to view all Goleta area hotel offerings. 

Goleta Chamber Leaders Respond to the Federal CARES Act and the local economy and jobs

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is convening business leaders in response to COVID-19 and the Federal CARES Act, passed on Friday, to provide economic relief to businesses at many levels.

The Goleta Chamber has provided information, online gatherings of leaders, industry-specific programs and communications to manufacturers, hotels, restaurants and service provider businesses in the region. Weekly calls, daily emails and innovative ideas are the main agenda for the Chamber professional staff and volunteer business leaders on the board of directors.

A big focus is on the federal relief package right now.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued the attached guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.

“The CARES Act is a timely and necessary response from government to provide economic relief to business during this unprecedented time,” said Kristen Miller, President and CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Additional Small Business Provisions are included in the act, including $17 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover six months of payments for businesses with current SBA loans.

“As of today, there are many unanswered questions on how to apply for and receive the CARES and SBA loans,” said Kathy Odell, CEO, Women’s Economic Ventures. “WEV will provide assistance to small businesses seeking SBA funding and continue to offer our COVID-19 Quick Response Loans and business advisory services to assist small business adapt to new economic circumstances.”

There are also changes to SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to include all non-profits, removing the personal guarantee requirement for loans below $200,000 and a new $10,000 cash advance provision.  The cash advance will be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

“Local businesses are the fabric of our communities and we must stand together in support of them,” said Janet Garufis, President of Montecito Bank and Trust. “Loan assistance programs like the CARES Act are an integral piece of the foundation for us to build upon, and as a qualified lender we are eagerly awaiting the additional guidance so that we can help quickly provide relief. As the largest, oldest and locally owned community bank on the central coast, we are well prepared to help businesses navigate these challenging times.”

Business tax provisions are included, related to refunds to part of the employer’s share of payroll taxes on wages and other modifications.

The CARES Act grants eligible employers a credit against employment taxes equal to 50 percent of qualified wages paid to employees who are not working due to the employer’s full or partial cessation of business or a significant decline in gross receipts. There are limits to consider as well.  The Act also provides refunds through carrying back Net Operating Losses, loosened limitations on business interest deductions and the depreciation Qualified Improvement Property and accelerated businesses ability to seek refunds from any Alternative Minimum Tax credits they may have.

“We have assisted several clients with the application process,” said Tony Vallejo, Partner at Nicholson & Schwartz. “It can be challenging especially considering the huge number of applications that are being submitted, but we are encouraging our clients to apply as soon as possible since we are expecting delays in the process.”

Connectivity is key for the Goleta Chamber and the business community.  Our high-tech community of business and industry was already focused on cutting edge technology that brings people and businesses closer together.  The pandemic and economic crises amplifies our local reliance on digital communication.

“During these unprecedented times, Cox is committed to keeping our customers’ and our communities’ connected. Our network is fully operational. We are completely staffed around the clock and our all-hands-on-deck team of network professionals can holistically monitor and manage our network, both physically from our network operations center and 100 percent virtually, if needed.”  Kirsten McLaughlin, Cox Communications.

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is partnering with all other Chambers in the County to put on a webinar this Wednesday, April 1st with our regional representative from the US Chamber of Commerce to further discuss what the CARES Act means for our local businesses and how small business owners can get access to these resources. For more information or to register for the webinar, visit www.GoletaChamber.com.

“Our firm has been working with businesses of all sizes to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and implement legal strategies to support continued operations in a safe manner. Across all practice areas, our attorneys have created resources allowing businesses to survive, and potentially thrive. One partner that we have found invaluable is Goleta Chamber of Commerce, due to its ability to disseminate accurate information from reliable sources in a timely manner.” says Trevor Large, Managing Partner, Buynak, Fauver, Archbald, & Spray.

The Goleta Chamber’s COVID-19 Emergency Resources page on the Chamber website is updated daily.

Supporting our Community During COVID-19

There is no doubt that our community is beginning to experience the negative impacts of COVID-19. Schools are closed, companies are shifting to work-from-home practices, events are being cancelled and social distancing is becoming a necessity. As our community faces this unprecedented situation it is important to realize that we are not powerless. There are many ways we can make a positive impact in our community and help support others in this time of need. Below are some ways you can help.
Support your local businesses
  • Order take-out or delivery – call your favorite restaurant to order take-out, or try a delivery service such as DeliverySB, SBbites, GrubHub, Restaurant Connection or DoorDash.
  • Buy a gift card from your favorite restaurants or shops – this stimulates the economy now and you can return to use at a later date.
Volunteer
If you feel well and want to volunteer, there are local groups who need great people.
Donate blood
Urgent shortage: donors needed. If you are healthy and able please consider donating blood now. As this disease continues to spread there will be significantly less people ableto donate.
Help your neighbors
  • Run errands. Senior citizens are being asked to stay home. They will need help with grocery shopping, picking up medication, and other similar tasks. Reach out to your neighbors. Remember that many seniors do not participate in social media. Online groups may not reach someone. You can knock on doors, or leave a note at the door.
  • Provide child care. Schools are daycares are closed until at least April, but many parents need to physically attend work in order to pay their bills. Consider offering to watch a child, even if just for the day. Online groups and word-of-mouth with neighbors and friends is a great way to offer this service.
  • Neighbors are communicating through a variety of online platforms.
Donate Money
If you don’t have time or are unable to volunteer, you can still make an impact. Consider donating money to local non-profits that are helping to support our community’s hungry and sick populations.
The Goleta Chamber of Commerce would like to shine a light on the amazing kindness and compassion that our community continues to exhibit. We encourage you to get involved. If you have questions or need additional resources, please contact: April Lee via email at April@GoletaChamber.com.

SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to California Small Businesses Economically Impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBAAdministrator Jovita Carranza announced today. SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s designated representative, Director Mark S. Ghilarducci of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services on March 13, 2020.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist California small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Administrator Carranza.

SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loanprogram and explain the application process.

“Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said Carranza.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza added.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications athttps://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

 

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 16, 2020.

 

For more information about Coronavirus, please visit: Coronavirus.gov.

 

For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

 

 

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About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Goleta Goleta Chamber Tips for Working Remotely

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, many local businesses are facing the option of remote-work for their employees, and many businesses may be trying this for the first time.  Sending employees to work at home can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before, but the Goleta Chamber has been working this way for many years, so we thought we would share some of what we have learned along the way.
For the last 10 years, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce has operated a “Virtual Office”. Our professional staff work remotely from their home offices and we gather together at member locations for important meetings and events.   We’ll be adjusting our work schedule, since meetings and events will be postponed, or managed “virtually” for the coming weeks.
Our experience with remote-work has been positive, so we are providing some examples and tips for working remotely.
We made business partnerships and worked closely with some top-notch and mostly local companies to make sure our technology and online presence reflect the professionalism we promote.
Phone systems

One of the first obstacles is the phone – our main number was well published and we didn’t want to change or publish individual cell phone numbers. Impulse Advanced Communications helped us do that with a voice over IP system (VOIP).  We have one main phone number and when a caller selects an extension, the system routes the call to that employee.  Some of our employees also route that call to their cell phone, so they never miss a call. Either way if you do miss a call, the system sends an email with a recording of the voicemail, so you can listen to it on the go, and/or forward it around to other e

mployees.
Cox Business offers a similar system – and either company can make sure your internet connection at the home office is as high-speed as the one at your office. Cox has announced enhancements to their residential internet connections in response to the changing environment.
Another option we use for high-volume call times is an answering service.  These live receptionists answer the phone, instead of the automated attendant with a recorded message.  These services provide a human voice, answering calls live, and can answer a list of frequently asked questions about our company (we use this mostly during the Lemon Festival when we get many calls asking the same questions).  If the answering service cannot answer the question, they take a message and send a written transcript, by email, to the staff member, or members, as appropriate. The messages come in real time, so we can stay up to date all day long.
Connecting with remote workers
Many people ask me how to keep in touch with staff, when you can’t walk down the hall and see them in person.  We have a small staff of four, so we use a group text on our iPhones that we utilize all day long.  From small questions, to big ones, we put it on the chat so that the team really feels like a team and can see what conversations are happening.  I know that many larger groups use an app like Slack or What’s App.  These are much more adaptable and searchable and probably better for larger groups.  But whichever device you use here are the most important policies we use:
  • Empower qualified employees to work independently and take pride in their work
  • Be crystal clear about which decisions an employee can make on their own, and which ones need approval or at least notification
  • Train everyone to give status updates frequently.  This doesn’t come naturally to most people, who want to wait until something is finished and then “wow” everyone with their accomplishment.  Or, people tend not to speak up in the opposite scenario when something is preventing them from finishing a task and they are getting behind.
  • Train everyone to give status updates – good or bad – and then be predictable and consistent in your response. Also show thanks for the update, give positive feedback, solve a problem if needed, and ask for another check-in soon.
  • Schedule daily, or regular, virtual staff meetings.  Whether it’s 15-minutes or 1 hour, schedule a predictable time for everyone to get on the phone or computer and share their progress, questions, and accomplishments.
  • Even though work-from-home hours are more flexible than office hours, we adhere to a certain decorum that respects traditional work flow – we discourage texting before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • We also discourage our employees from emailing after hours. Work life balance is important and middle of the night emails do not send the right message of professionalism.
Technology and Software
In the past 10 years, we have a changed a lot of the software applications we use as productivity software has gotten better and better. One we have counted on consistently is the GoTo products.  A local Goleta company, GoToMyPc was an integral part of our early transition to remote-work, and now GoToMeeting is a common part of our work week.  Most people don’t want to be on camera, as in FaceTime or other video conferencing tools, but we often need to share a document on screen and have a conversation with several people at once. It’s easy to download and use. GoToMeeting has put together a toolkit for business and many of their services, such as GoToWebinar are free at this time. 
Getting all of this set up with Latitude 34 Technologies was a great choice we made years ago.  Their on-call tech support applies not just to our desktop computers, but to our entire inventory of connected devices.  They are experts in virtual business and will help protect you from outside threats like viruses, power-outages and spam, as well as common mistakes in user-error and cloud management.
CIO Solutions is another great Goleta company who can help your business utilize cloud technology and keep your remote employees constantly connected. Check out this great article they prepared on helping you prepare your business.
In the Cloud
By moving all of our operations to the cloud, we can access our shared files from any location.  Bookkeeping, membership databases, emails, calendars, and critical documents are all saved in the cloud and each folder has different permissions for each staffer. Just remember that employees should not accidentally save documents to their laptop – keep it all in the cloud for shared use.
Equipment
These days, most employees have a cell phone and probably a laptop. But once you start requiring them to use their phone for work, and make sure it’s on and reliable, a reimbursement for the cost, or part of the cost may be in order.  Company-issued laptops and iPads are common and very useful.  Just make sure your policy manual is up to date and that employees respect that it is a company-owned device and should be treated like business equipment.  Some cross-over into our personal lives is inevitable and frankly encouraged – work life balance is a key component to job satisfaction – but remember to keep sensitive personal information elsewhere.
Home office expenses
Because the Goleta Chamber is permanently virtual, with remote-work employees, we provide a monthly reimbursement for the square-footage of the home office, any storage an employee provides, part of the internet and utilities cost, part of the cell phone cost, and a small account for expenses.  If you will be offering work-from-home options on a temporary basis, you will have to consider how much to offer, if anything.  We pay employees instead of rent, but paying for home offices and keeping the lights on at the main office means you may need to calculate differently.
Comraderie
Don’t forget to keep in touch with some humor and support.  Most of us rely on our workplace for social connections and camaraderie.  Anne Pazier at Santa Barbara Gift Baskets makes a great suggestion to send a virtual break room to your home offices.  What a fun way to say you appreciate your remote-workers who may be working even harder than they do in the office.
We hope this information will help your business during this difficult time. Remember to take it easy, go slow, try things on a termpoary basis, and laugh at your own mistakes. We are all in this together – all trying new things. And who knows, we may learn something during times of stress that we like so much that we end up adopting it permanently.

Regional Chamber Coalition Endorsed Lompoc Wind-Energy Farm Gets Approval

The Santa Barbara County Chamber of Commerce Coalition has actively supported the commercial wind energy project proposed for a ridge southwest of Lompoc. On January 28th the Board of Supervisors voted that the project can move forward after more than four hours of discussion.

In casting the 4-0 vote, the board approved several aspects and denied an appeal filed by neighbors and other opponents of the Strauss Wind Energy Project,proposed by BayWa r.e. Wind, LLC. 

“This is a very significant project…for Santa Barbara County but also setting a tone as we go forward,” Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said he believed the benefits brought by the renewable energy project outweigh unavoidable impacts.

“This is, by far, not a perfect project, but I think it is a good project,” Lavagnino said.

First District Supervisor Das Williams added that the county needed to approve renewable energy projects with reasonable and economically feasible mitigation measures.

“A denial (of the appeal) today will for the first time in a long time send that signal to the world that we mean business about renewable energy,” Williams said.

Under the revised project, Strauss plans to install 29 wind turbine generators, up to 492 feet tall, on 3,000 acres near the intersection of San Miguelito and Sudden roads.

The wind farm would produce 98 megawatts, or enough energy to power 43,000 homes, and would generate tax revenue of $40 million for county coffers over 30 years. Some 150 construction jobs will be created and up to seven employees would be needed once it’s operating.

The Strauss project is a revised version of the approved-but-never built Lompoc Wind Energy Project proposal that envisioned building 65 wind turbines a decade ago.

Neighbors George and Cheryl Bedford, along with Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy and the California Native Plant Society, appealed the Planning Commission’s Nov. 20 approval.

Appeals challenged the final supplemental environmental impact report’s adequacy, noise, General Plan consistency and impacts on birds, bats and the Gaviota tarplant, a rare and endangered plant with yellow blooms native to the Gaviota coast.

“The size and scope of this project cannot be overstated,” said Richard Adam, attorney for the Bedfords. “In its history, Santa Barbara County has never approved any structure, let alone 29 of them, remotely as tall as these structures.”

Daniel Duke, vice president of development for BayWa, called the Strauss proposal “a much-improved version” of the project approved in 2009.

“We’ve done I think a very good job of minimizing impacts and balancing the contraints there. We’re ready for construction,” he said.

He rejected calls to relocate wind turbines from hilltops.

“This would be like putting a solar project in the shade,” Duke added.

BayWa officials hope to begin construction in February, after initially intending to start the work in April 2019.

“In essence, we’re ready to go. It is important this project get off the ground as soon as possible,” he said.

The board’s approval included two last-minute conditions added to the project, including one seeking to ensure two wind turbines aren’t placed closer to the Bedfords’ residence if BayWa decided during construction that the location must change.

Another condition crafted Tuesday afternoon called for routine annual reports on the impacts to the Gaviota tarplant over five years. In November, the Planning Commission asked for regular updates on the wind farm’s impacts to bats and birds.

Local employees also were on the minds of board members.

“Just as a comment and a request, I would hope the developer continues to work with union contractors to have more certainty with the additional contracts that have to be let on this project to hire as much local union labor as is possible,” Chairman Gregg Hart added.

At the start of the afternoon meeting, the board rejected a request to delay the Strauss appeal hearing.

Strauss will be the first commercial wind energy project in Santa Barbara County and joins a commercial solar farm in the Cuyama Valley plus a military solar array project powering Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Goleta Chamber of Commerce Honors Members, Welcomes 2020 Board at Annual Meeting

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce honored Kirsten McLaughlin of Cox with its Chairman’s Award on Wednesday night, and named Cary Harrison as the Volunteer of the Year.

Noozhawk founder and publisher Bill Macfadyen is returning as chamber board chairman for the second consecutive year and third time overall.

The annual membership meeting, which also honored exiting board members while installing new ones, was held at Karl Storz Imaging in Goleta. The guests gathered in the building’s courtyard as chamber president and CEO Kristen Miller welcomed the crowd to the campus at Karl Storz Drive off South Los Carneros Road.

Macfadyen recapped the main goals that the chamber wanted to focus on in 2019: economic development, Old Town Goleta, visitor services and community relations.

“On the economic development front, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce has been leading the way on regional collaboration,” he said.

All the chambers of commerce in Santa Barbara County came together to support two important jobs projects, he said, citing the ExxonMobil interim trucking proposaland the Lompoc wind-energy farm that the Board of Supervisors approved the day before.

The chamber’s public policy work “was as robust as ever,” Macfadyen said, tackling topics like outdoor cannabis grows, water, the Santa Barbara Airport land-use plan, and the upcoming approval of Goleta’s new zoning ordinance.

In March, he said, the county’s chambers of commerce will also meet in Goleta for the first countywide board meeting.

The Goleta chamber also is taking over the Fourth of July fireworks show at Girsh Park, expanding its lineup of community activities, which include the Goleta’s Finest Awards gala and the popular Lemon Festival.

“We’re looking forward to building on the groundwork the Goleta Rotary clubs have laid while we blow stuff up in the sky over western Goleta,” Macfadyen said, referring to Rotary’s decision to discontinue its involvement and turn it over to the chamber.

He noted that the one area that languished was Old Town Goleta, but not because the chamber didn’t try.

“We continue to work on revitalizing Old Town,” Macfadyen said. “We are proud of the new community park, the record turnout for the Old Town Christmas Parade, and the difference our chamber members there are making in their neighborhood.

“You have my word that we will always be champions of Old Town, as the heart and heritage of Goleta.”

The evening’s festivities, sponsored by The Towbes Group, included the installation of three new board members: entrepreneurs Chris Chiarappa, owner of Mesa Burger and Corner Tap Room; Kathy Odell, CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures and a longtime business founder and executive; and Sachi Thompson, supply chain executive vice president at Curvature.

They join Macfadyen, McLaughlin and fellow returning board members Rich Antles of FLIR Systems, Alex Bauer of Sansum Clinic, Ron Caird of Por La Mar Nursery, Beth Collins of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group, Arie Dejong of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, Barry Dorsey of The Kimpton Goodland Hotel, Dan Gabie of LogMeIn, Janet Garufis of Montecito Bank & Trust, Steve Greig of Plains All American Pipeline, Renee Grubb of Village Properties, Trevor Large of Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray and the chamber’s first vice chairman, Brian Larinan of Granite Construction, Donna Lewis of the Goleta Union School District, Matt Long of Signature Flight Support, John Longbrake of UC Santa Barbara, Trish Miller of Spherion, Craig Minus, Anne Pazier of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, Susan Rodriguez of Brown & Brown Insurance, and Tony Vallejo of Nicholson & Schwartz CPAs.

In announcing the chairman’s award, Macfadyen called McLaughlin “brilliant, persuasive, effective, optimistic and enthusiastic.”

“She always looks for and works toward a positive and mutually beneficial outcome — no matter the issue,” he said of Cox’s market vice president.

In accepting the award, McLaughlin said, “Thank you, oh my gosh, I am so touched.”

Harrison, an account executive at Spectrum Reach, accepted the Volunteer of the Year award, and said, “To be honored as ambassador of the year means so much.”

For Odell, the evening — and the venue — was a homecoming of sorts. She embarked on her entrepreneurial career in 1985 as co-founder of Medical Concepts Inc., which grew into the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of video systems for minimally invasive surgery before it was acquired by Karl Storz in 1990.

The event featured food from Neighbor Tim’s BBQ, cupcakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes and beverages from Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Margerum Wine Co.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Goleta Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Goleta’s Finest with 70th Annual Awards Gala

Individuals, volunteers, businesses, organizations and others were recognized for the outstanding contributions they have made to enhance Goleta during a ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara on Saturday evening.

The awards were granted as part of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s 70th annual Goleta’s Finest community gala.

The semiformal reception kicked off with a buffet featuring multiple food stations serving specialties such as salmon, New York strip steak, penne, orecchiette, salad, and, of course, dessert, wine, beer and champagne.

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta chamber, recognized the organization’s board members, event sponsors, elected officials and previous award recipients attending the event.

The honorees make a difference in the Goleta community and they have a positive contribution to society. The awards were given to all walks of life and people of all ages.

“Goleta’s Finest is our community awards banquet,” Miller said. “Community is everything.

“I think you all will experience a theme around community — giving over receiving, connecting over separating, and recognizing effort and heart,” she continued. “Our award recipients have made this the finest community, and we get to elevate them for one night.”

Chamber board president Bill Macfadyen, founder and publisher of Noozhawk, served as the gathering’s emcee.

At the gala, the Goleta Education Foundation held a raffle to support elementary education in the Goleta Valley. The grand prize was an original painting by local artist Emily Murray, and two winners each received a case of wine.

Applause erupted from inside the resort’s ballroom as more than 415 guests celebrated the honorees, who were invited on stage to make brief remarks.

The 2019 Goleta’s Finest winners were:

Woman of the Year

Serial entrepreneur Kathy Odell, incoming CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures, was honored for her more than 25 years of leadership experience.

She got her start in 1985 as co-founder of Medical Concepts Inc., which grew to become the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of video systems for minimally invasive surgery. The company was acquired by Karl Storz Endoscopy in 1990.

From 2002 to 2008, Odell was CEO of Goleta-based Inogen Inc., a manufacturer of advanced therapy devices for treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Under her leadership, the company drew more than $53 million in venture capital before taking itself public.

Odell is actively involved in entrepreneurial activities throughout the Central Coast. She has served as a mentor and adviser to start-ups and small business leaders. She also turned her sights from the corporate community to leading WEV, a local nonprofit organization focusing on aspiring female entrepreneurs.

She made a pitch for the involvement of more women in business management, executive and board ranks.

“I am who I am because of this community,” Odell said, adding, “I believe that communities create opportunities.”

Man of the Year

Land-use and environmental attorney Peter Brown, who, after the City of Goletawas& ;incorporated, represented the Goleta chamber as it worked with the city to develop the new municipality’s regulations and its current general plan. He was recognized for his longtime community participation.

Brown, a partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, bridged communication between business and government, and he added his insightful analysis and experience to the complex and thoughtful work to create a whole new city.

“A strong local economy is not something that occurs easily, accidentally or without effort,” he said during his speech. “It takes dedication and consistent attention.”

In addition, Brown also served on the Goleta chamber board for 12 years.

In his free time, he enjoys volunteering and singing.

Educator of the Year

Carolyn Ross, music director at Goleta Valley Junior High School, was acknowledged for her commitment to her students’ talents, social development and academics.

For 11 years, Ross worked with students of varying skill levels, not only during the school year, but also at her summer camp, on weekends and during the holidays.

She is known for consistently going above and beyond for each young learner.

“I feel fortunate,” Ross said of receiving the award.

Nonprofit of the Year

Girsh Park was honored for its important community role in the Goleta community.

Now celebrating its 20th year, the park is home to numerous sports and activities, including the chamber’s popular Goleta Lemon Festival, Fourth of July fireworks, family-friendly gatherings, and baseball, basketball and soccer.

Opening in 1999, the nonprofit organization is unique as a private park with city support. It has proven to be a successful model, with more than 500,000 visitors annually.

The 25-acre park is located behind Camino Real Shopping Center at 7050 Phelps Road.

Volunteer of the Year

Dacia Harwood, deputy director of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Historical Museum, was honored for her passion for volunteering.

Harwood’s dedication to the community goes far beyond her previous role as events and festivals coordinator at the nonprofit Goleta Valley Historical Society, where she served more than 14 years. Her community work includes working on the annual Goleta Dam Dinner, as well as encouraging others to support other critical work in Goleta.

“I’m the luckiest girl in the world to, not only live here, but be able to go to work in Goleta every day, and celebrate the community,” she told the crowd.

Student of the Year

Dos Pueblos High School senior Kathy Ramirez-Gijon received recognition for being a wonderful individual, active volunteer and student-athlete.

She has consistently been enrolled in honors and advanced placement classes and dual enrollment courses at school. Ramirez-Gijon is a golf team member and a D’Penguineer, a member of the prestigious Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

Ramirez-Gijon is a first-generation college-bound student and she is looking forward to pursuing a career in mechanical engineering.

“I know the value of education,” said Ramirez-Gijon, who graciously thanked her parents for their support and inspiration.

Ramirez-Gijon also is involved in her church and her volunteer work includes 382 community service hours.

Small Business of the Year

Anna’s Bakery was acknowledged for its contributions to the diversity and growth of Goleta.

Co-owners Lisa Boetler and Deborah Weber serve up fresh cookies, brownies, custom cakes and cupcakes, lemon meringue pies and other goodies.

Anna’s Bakery, located in Camino Real Marketplace, has been Goleta’s bakery since 1990.

“Baking is love made edible,” Boelter said during the pair’s speech.

Large Business of the Year

Community West Bank was honored as one of the Goleta businesses that support and make a difference in the community.

The bank is the largest publicly traded and only community bank headquartered and serving the tri-counties with seven full-service branch offices in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, Oxnard and Westlake Village, and a loan production office in Paso Robles.

Founded in 1989, Community West Bank provides financing to businesses, families and organizations throughout the region, supporting job creation and vibrant local communities.

Community West Bank employs about 140 people, said Marty Plourd, the bank’s president and CEO since 2011.

“We are truly honored,” he said of the 2019 Large Business of the Year Award.

Innovation Award

UC Santa Barbara’s AlloSphere Research Facility was acknowledged for its desire to welcome research partners and all collaborations while making a difference in the community.

Facility director JoAnn Kuchera-Morin is the chief designer of the three-story facility on the UCSBs campus. The intersection of technology, science, engineering, arts and mathematics has facilitated new approaches for scientific discovery.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Michael Craig, owner and distiller at Goleta Red Distilling Company, was honored for demonstrating best practices of entrepreneurship.

Craig’s business at 93 Castilian Drive opened less than two years ago and all spirits are created locally.

“It’s such an honor to be here,” he said at the ceremony.

Public Servant of the Year

Now-retired search dog Riley received recognition for his valuable work in the aftermath of disasters.

Riley, a purebred yellow Labrador retriever, served eight years at the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The canine’s handler, county fire Capt. Eric Gray, accepted the award.

In his speech, Gray said he is humbled and honored to be acknowledged.

The pair responded to their first call in 2010, when a gravel truck lost its brakes coming down Highway 154 and plowed into a cottage on State Street, killing a family of three.

Riley and Gray have been deployed around the world. The team worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as after a powerful 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake and when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017.

They also were first on the scene after deadly flash flooding and debris flows ripped through Montecito in the early morning of Jan. 9, 2018. The pair search through knee-deep and chest-deep mud in Montecito for 16 days.

“Riley only knew one thing, to search for those who may be trapped and alive, was what we did,” Gray said, adding, “His (Riley) moves were slow and difficult as ours, but it didn’t matter.

“He never stopped and he always looked back to me, looking for the next challenge,” he continued. “I couldn’t be more proud of my boy in those first days, and it was the culmination of our career.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Michael Bennett received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for his longtime volunteer service and activism.

He retired from the county Fire Department as a fire battalion chief after working for 36 years.

Bennett served two terms on the Goleta City Council and two terms as mayor.

He is known for his assistance with cityhood efforts, work on the Goleta Old Town Area Committee and advocating for a new fire station in Goleta.

Bennett began serving nonprofit organizations in the 1980s.

He serves on the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County board of directors and he has been a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime since 1990.

Bennett also is a longtime member of the Goleta chamber.

He has received several recognitions, including Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award for his service to the community, and he was honored by the Goleta chamber as the 2006 Goleta’s Finest Man of the Year.

“It has been an interesting life that I have led,” Bennett said.

 

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | November 24, 2019 | 11:50 p.m.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.