Gilroy Chamber Business Focus December 2022

December 19, 2022

Proud Members of the Gilroy Chamber

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce appreciates the support of our members. Investment dollars are dedicated to vital programs such as economic development, business marketing, leadership programs and more. We applaud each of you for helping make Gilroy a better place to live and work.

30 Years & over
Casa de Fruta
Cypress Pointe Apartments
I.F.D.E.S. Lodge
Williams Dental Lab
20 Years & over
Castro Valley Properties

10 Years & over
American Assoc. of University Women Gilroy Branch
Dental Office of Dawn Pawn
Gilroy Assistance League
Lana’s Dance Studio
Old City Hall

5 Years & over
Coldwell Banker, Richard Mackie
Gilroy and Gavilan Golf Course
Gilroy Veterans Hall
Holiday Inn Express Inn & Suites
Los Pericos Taqueria
Robot Shark
Sergi Investments
United Genetics Seed Co.

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Names Victoria Valencia as its New CEO

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has announced the selection of Victoria Valencia as its new CEO.

Valencia is a South County native, joining the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce staff in January 2019 as its community relations coordinator, managing marketing and events, and building relations with community partners.

Prior to working with the chamber, Valencia oversaw the operations and events at the Gilroy Lodge on the Hill. She also worked at the Mt. Madonna YMCA as a member services coordinator, and interned with Pebble Beach on their Special Events Management Team.

Valencia graduated from San Jose State University in 2016 with a degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management. She is currently a member of the Western Association of Chamber Executive’s Emerging Leaders Council. She is also a board member for Leadership Gilroy and One Giving Tree and was a founding board member for Gilroy After Hours Rotary.

Her appointment was announced at the Wednesday, Dec. 14, Gilroy Chamber breakfast meeting.

About the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Mission Statement: We aim to make Gilroy the best place to live, work, and play by:

  • Connecting people, businesses, and customers.
  • Making Gilroy a world-class recreation destination.
  • Helping businesses achieve economic success through technology.
  • Being kick-a** problem solvers.
  • Representing the business community’s interests at all levels of government.

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is credited with creating cutting-edge initiatives that help the community of Gilroy thrive. We have been the go-to organization for the initial structure and support of key agencies including Visit Gilroy, Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, Gilroy Downtown Business Association and Gilroy Leadership Education Foundation.

Our focus is on building strong alliances to keep Gilroy one step ahead.

Business is the key driver to building community, and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to ensuring Gilroy’s economic vitality encouraging, supporting, and promoting policies that create a business-friendly environment.

The Passing of an Icon

Article by Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

This past week Gilroy residents received the news of Don Christopher’s passing. It was indeed a sad day for this community. Don Christopher meant a lot to so many people. He was a kind-hearted, philanthropic man. He loved his family, his employees, and his community. His love of community was shown through the various community partnerships with Rebekah Children’s Services, Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California, St. Joseph’s Family Center, Gilroy Gardens, Latino Family Fund, Gilroy High School, Community Solutions, and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce to name a few. It was the Christopher family’s generosity that helped make Christopher High School, Gilroy’s 2nd comprehensive high school a possibility.

Don founded Christopher Ranch in 1956 establishing his first 10 acres in Gilroy. From there, he built a world-class organization growing garlic on nearly 6,000 acres statewide. Christopher Ranch products can be found in all 50 states. As the co-founder of the Garlic Festival, Don helped create the community’s largest family reunion. Each year thousands of community volunteers would gather at Christmas Hill Park connecting, laughing, working hard, and reminiscing about Festivals past.

With this sort of fame and fortune, one might think that Don Christopher would be difficult to approach. However, one would be wrong for thinking that. Don was always approachable, willing to take time for people, and offering help wherever possible. I had the good fortune of having lunch with Don on several occasions. Each time, at some point in our conversation, he would ask, “Is there anything I can do to help you and your organization?”

While the community has suffered a tremendous loss, Don’s legacy will live on for generations to come. He has established himself as an iconic figure helping to put Gilroy on the map.

Of course, the greatest loss will be felt by his family and employees. On behalf of the Gilroy Chamber Board of Directors and Chamber staff, I offer our sincerest condolences. Thank you for sharing Don with us for so many years.

Business Wants Voters to Overturn Legislative Decrees

By Dan Walters, CalMatters

Over the last decade, as Democrats solidified their dominance of the state Capitol, they have repeatedly attempted to change how private businesses operate in California

Those efforts have taken many specific forms, including mandates on employee benefits, making it easier for unions to organize workers, and regulating — or even prohibiting — products and services offered to customers.

All such efforts were aimed, their legislative and interest group sponsors said, at expanding equity and accountability for the benefit of workers and consumers.

Whatever their motives, as those efforts proliferate, the affected businesses have done what they could to block or at least modify what was happening. Nevertheless, those seeking more governmental regulation of business practices have scored some major victories and in response, affected businesses have increasingly used referenda to erase new laws or initiatives to repeal or modify them.

Those countermeasures have a mixed record of success, to wit:

— In 2014, the Legislature passed and then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to ban single-use plastic bags for groceries or other consumer goods. An industry referendum to block the new law failed in 2016.

— In 2018, the Legislature eliminated cash bail for criminal defendants. Two years later, the bail bond industry persuaded voters to reject the law.

— In 2019, legislators passed a sweeping law that reduced the ability of businesses to use freelance workers under contract. Rideshare and delivery companies such as Uber and Lyft placed a measure on the 2020 ballot to exempt themselves from the new law. Voters passed it, but it’s since been challenged in court.

— In 2020 the Legislature prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products, saying they encourage young people to smoke. However, the tobacco industry’s referendum to block the ban was rejected by voters this year.

Corporate use of the ballot to thwart the Capitol’s Democrats is likely to continue.

The fast food industry has submitted signatures for a referendum to overturn the creation of a new agency, dominated by unions and union-friendly appointees, that would set wages and working conditions for fast food employees. If it qualifies, the law would be suspended until voters decide the issue in 2024.

The oil industry is gathering signatures for a referendum to overturn a newly enacted law that would ban new oil wells within 3,200 feet of schools and other public facilities. If it qualifies, it also would go on the 2024 ballot.

Another oil industry referendum is likely if the Legislature passes Newsom’s proposal to impose limits on its profits from gasoline sales and impose financial penalties for exceeding them.

Newsom’s original proposal was an excess profits tax, which would not have been subject to referendum because the state constitution declares that tax measures cannot be challenged via referendum.

However, non-tax laws, unless passed with two-thirds margins as “urgency measures,” are subject to referendum. If Newsom’s limit/penalty law is enacted next year as a non-urgency measure, the industry would have a 90-day window in which to qualify a referendum. The law would be suspended until voters had the final word.

The proliferation of business-sponsored ballot measures to overturn what legislators and the governor decree has angered groups, such as unions and environmental and consumer rights organizations, that support more oversight of business practices. They are pressing the Legislature to make the qualification of ballot measures more difficult.

However, Newsom and his predecessor, Jerry Brown, have opposed such changes for the simple reason that governors sometimes turn to the ballot themselves to enact laws that the Legislature is unwilling to pass.

Cal/OSHA Extends COVID-19 Regulation for 2 Years

By Robert Moutrie, CalChamber

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted 6-1 yesterday to continue California’s COVID-19 regulation until December 2024.

As part of the transition from an emergency COVID-19 regulation into a non-emergency one, Cal/OSHA has made some changes that will improve feasibility for California’s workplaces.

What Stays the Same for Workplaces?

The basic framework of the nonemergency COVID-19 regulation is going to be familiar to human resources professionals and lawyers who have grappled with applying the regulation across the state for the last two years.

It will continue to apply to the same work locations and rely on the same basic tools: identifying COVID-19 cases in the workplace, excluding any employee cases, identifying and providing no-cost testing of close contacts, and following outbreak protocols if three or more cases occur.

‘New’ Close Contacts Definition: Spreading a Wider Net

The most profound administrative change was arguably made earlier this year, when the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) changed the definition of a “close contact” to hinge on the size of the workplace, but this change is being incorporated into the text of the two-year regulation, so it deserves a re-examination.

For “indoor spaces larger than 400,000 cubic feet per floor, a close contact is … being within six feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” Alternatively, for “indoor airspaces of 400,000 cubic feet or fewer per floor, a close contact is … sharing the same indoor airspace as a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.”

This change has created ongoing operational questions for employers across California as they struggle with implementation questions. For example: if I have doors that open and close regularly — such as between a loading area and open floor — is that one unified “indoor airspace”? Or must the doors be open constantly? And if doors or windows are consistently left open, allowing airflow in and out of an area, how is that area treated? And, for spaces smaller than 400,000 cubic feet, is a person 100 feet away from another for 15 minutes really a “close” contact?

So although the word “close contact” remains the yardstick of the regulation, employers should keep in mind that this word will no longer mean the well-known 6-foot/15-minutes standard of prior years.

Other Significant Changes: Outbreaks, Exclusion Pay, and More

Among other significant changes, employers should know that outbreak protocols can end slightly sooner under the new text. Whereas outbreak protocols previously had to continue until an employer had a two-week period with zero cases in the exposed group (regardless of whether that was caused by a workplace exposure), the new text will allow outbreaks to end so long as one or less cases occur in a two-week period.

This change was one that the California Chamber of Commerce had proposed, and means that the outbreak trigger (three cases or more in an exposed group) is now more in line with the outbreak exit threshold (one or fewer cases).

In addition, exclusion pay is being removed from the regulation, meaning employers will no longer be required to provide unlimited paid sick leave whenever a COVID-19 case occurs in the workplace. Notably, the employer still will be required to keep cases out of the workplace pursuant to the regulation, and excluded employees will be eligible for existing sick leave protections and workers’ compensation, as well as being protected from discipline related to their COVID-19 status under existing labor law protections.

When Do the Changes Go Into Effect?

The new two-year version does not necessarily go into effect on January 1; instead, it goes into effect when the Office of Administrative Law has reviewed and approved the text. This is important for California employers to understand because it means that the present text may technically remain in effect until as late as mid-January.

What Else to Expect in 2023 for California’s COVID Regulation?

With yesterday’s vote, the California business community should see a slowing of the rate of change for the COVID-19 regulation. Over the last few years, the COVID-19 regulation’s text (as well as the related FAQs and CDPH guidance) have been a fast-moving target, with tweaks and updates every few months. The frequent changes have pushed human resources professionals, attorneys, and particularly small business owners into a frenzied state of constant catch-up.

With this new two-year regulation approved as a nonemergency regulation, the CalChamber expects that the Cal/OSHA staff (who wrote and rewrote the regulation and FAQs) will be trying to refocus their efforts on other priorities and will leave this text largely alone.

Those other agency priorities include: bringing an update to California’s lead regulation and a new workplace violence regulation before the Standards Board for notice and formal rulemaking; and holding advisory committee discussions on other rulemakings, including updates to the state’s first aid regulation and walking-working surfaces regulation.

December 12, 2022

What's New With Business?

Health Net Small Business Group

Founded in California more than 40 years ago, we’re dedicated to transforming the health of our community, one person at a time. Health Net’s 2,600 employees and 85,000 network providers serve 3 million members, nearly 1 in 12 Californians. We offer strength, stability, and local expertise, and amplify it with the financial strength of our parent company Centene Corporation.

At Health Net, we offer an array of small business benefit solutions. We’re committed to offering the plans, networks and choice employers need at a competitive price. We offer five HMO and one PPO network solution and allow you to mix and match ALL of our networks. And with concierge-style service, 24/7 virtual care, behavioral health, wellness programs, and other extras, we believe our plans offer value beyond benefits.

Economic Uncertainty, Need to Improve Business Climate Top of Mind for California Voters

By Loren Kaye, California Foundation for Commerce and Education

California voters are readying themselves to face lean economic times, and want state elected leaders to do likewise, according the latest CalChamber poll, the People’s Voice, 2022.

By a 65% to 35% margin, voters believe California is in a recession. When compared to a year ago, voters by a 2-to-1 margin believe their households’ finances and current economic situation are worse. On a slightly more optimistic note, looking forward, a slim majority (51%) of voters think the economy will be better a year from now, and a majority (54%) say that their own economic situation will likely improve over the next year.

But for now, Californians are tightening their belts.

Three out of four voters say rising prices have caused them and their family to adjust spending habits a lot (35%) or some (40%). Nearly all voters (93%) have noticed higher prices for groceries, with higher gasoline prices (87%) also top of mind, followed by eating out at restaurants/take out (81%) and utility costs (68%).

Voters point to improving California’s business climate as a way through the economic doldrums.

A whopping 87% of voters believe that California needs to do more to attract and retain businesses in the state, while 63% go even further, agreeing that California has fostered an unfriendly business climate that discourages new high-quality jobs and opportunities. These concerns are shared widely among demographic groups and regions, but are especially strong with younger voters and residents of the Inland Empire and Central Valley.

Nearly 4 out of 5 voters complained that state elected officials were not spending enough time encouraging economic development to grow new businesses in California or keeping major employers from leaving California and going to another state.

Digging deeper, voters were informed about a study from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which reported that in 2021, California business headquarters left the state at twice the rate of 2020 and 2019, and at three times the rate of 2018. Reasons for this include high tax rates, high labor costs, high living costs, high utility and fuel costs, as well as the complicated regulatory environment at the state and local level.

When asked how important is it that the Governor and the Legislature address this issue, nearly half of voters (48%) said it was extremely important and another third said it very important.

Following up, voters were asked whether the Governor and the Legislature should be required, before enacting any new law, to report on its business impact, specifically whether the law will drive businesses and jobs to leave California. Nearly 90% agree with that policy, half of them strongly.

The CalChamber poll was conducted by Bold Decision and Pierrepont Consulting and Analytics with online interviews from November 12–14, 2022, with 1,000 online interviews of California 2022 general election voters. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. This is the eighth year CalChamber has published The People’s Voice survey.


Gig Workers, Prop. 22 Backers Resume War Over Initiative’s Fate

Article by Bloomberg Law

The next battle in the long-running California war over who’s an employee and who’s an independent contractor will take place in a San Francisco courtroom with arguments on the constitutionality of a voter-approved, court-suspended initiative carving out gig workers from the state’s worker-friendly classification law.

Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., DoorDash, and Instacart Inc. bankrolled the inititiave known as Proposition 22, spending more than $200 million to get it passed in November 2020.

The California Court of Appeal, First District, on Tuesday—more than two years after voters approved the measure—will hear their arguments for overturning a successful effort by individual drivers and the Service Employees International Union to block the law. A ruling is expected within 90 days.

“This case is important to preserve the integrity of Californians’ right to propose and adopt laws by using the ballot initiative,” Loren Kaye, president of the California Chamber-affiliated California Foundation for Commerce and Education, said in an email. “The trial judge wrongly walled-off entire subject areas from the voters’ ability to legislate, which we wish to restore.”

The fight dates back to the California Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court decision, which set a three-part test for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.

The state in 2020 enacted legislation (A.B. 5) that codified the Dynamex ruling. Lawmakers a year later passed legislation (A.B. 2257) that further limited what occupations would be exempted from state employment protections such as overtime and worker’s compensation. Prop. 22 added gig workers to that list.

Reclassifying drivers, shoppers, and delivery people as employees carries a big financial risk, the companies have said in financial filings, with their entire business models based on the workers not being employees and the resulting expenses.

“California has the strongest misclassification laws in the nation,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, California Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer and the lawmaker who authored A.B. 5.

“I believe we will win at the appeals court. I believe we ultimately will win at the supreme court,” Gonzalez Fletcher said in an interview. “The California Supreme Court thought they were settling something with Dynamex.”

Unsettled Territory

An Alameda County Superior Court judge last year struck down Prop. 22, holding the initiative was unconstitutional. The court ruled excluding “app-based drivers” from the state worker’s compensation system and prohibiting the legislature from acting in the future impermissibly interferes with lawmakers’ plenary power.

Judge Frank Roesch also said then that Prop. 22’s limiting of drivers’ collective bargaining rights “appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, ununionized workforce.”

That, Roesch said, was unrelated to the measure’s stated purpose of “protecting the opportunity for Californians to drive their cars on an independent contract basis, to provide those drivers with certain minimum welfare standards, and to set minimum consumer protection and safety standards to protect the public.”

Upholding the trial court “will muddy the initiative drafting process, chill new initiatives in areas that are important to California voters and businesses, and give license to California judges to uphold or invalidate initiatives based on their subjective policy views,” lawyers arguing for the California Chamber of Commerce said in an appellate filing.

The state, which must defend all initiatives once they pass, claims Roesch’s ruling “unnecessarily creates a conflict between two constitutional provisions where none exists” and that provisions requiring any amendments pass by a seven-eighths margin in the legislature “merely specify conditions for amending Proposition 22, which the case law permits.”

And a group backing the initiative, intervenors Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, called Prop. 22 “quintessentially Californian—a comprehensive and innovative solution to the question of classifying workers in the modern, on-demand economy” that was enacted by a 17% margin.

But Prop. 22 directly conflicts with the legislature’s unlimited power to establish a worker’s comp system, a power that was “granted by a constitutional amendment in 1918—seven years after the right of initiative was added to the Constitution,” contend attorneys representing driver Hector Castellanos and the union. And, they argue, restricting or withdrawing the legislature’s unlimited power requires another constitutional amendment, not just a statutory initiative.

Plaintiffs are hoping the appeals court affirms the trial judge’s decision that Prop. 22’s provisions are contrary to the California Constitution “and so the entire initiative is void,” Stacey Leyton, an Altshuler Berzon partner, representing SEIU and the individual drivers, said in an email. “That ruling would provide the needed clarity for both workers and employers: that for-hire drivers are employees under California law, and thereby entitled to all of the protections of California’s labor and employment laws,” she said.

Still more uncertainty could come in a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on a separate challenge to A.B. 5, which Uber, Postmates, and two gig workers want invalidated. The court has yet to rule after July oral arguments.

“It won’t surprise me if it’s a couple years before we really know if Prop. 22 is gone forever, and perhaps they’ll come back with another initiative that does something different, unless the courts say that worker’s comp, because it’s a constitutional benefit, is the province of the legislature,” Julius Young, a workers comp lawyer with Boxer & Gerson LLP, said in an interview.

Bait and Switch?

California election law professors agree that the trial court’s decision is unprecedented. Prop. 22 “purports to limit legislative amendments on collective bargaining, a subject different from that of the rest of the initiative,” the academics professors argued in a friend-of-the-court brief. “This limitation, whether styled as an `amendment’ or not, usurps the Legislature’s constitutional power.”

If the court approves the “amendment” limitation on lawmaking power, “it will work mischief and provide a roadmap for future initiatives to upset the delicate balance between legislative powers given to the People of the State of California and those given to the Legislature,” they said.

“It would allow a bait and switch,” they said, “in which voters pass an initiative on Subject A but the fine print will unconstitutionally prevent or limit the Legislature’s ability to legislate on Subject B. It will allow the trampling of political and civil rights without recourse to otherwise-permissible legislation.”

Tricky Measure Allows Release of Violent Felons

Commentary by Dan Walters, CalMatters 

Six years ago, then-Gov. Jerry Brown tricked California voters into passing a ballot measure that, he said, would make it easier for non-violent felons to earn paroles and thus ease the state prison system’s severe overcrowding.

Brown and other supporters of Proposition 57 spent millions of dollars on the campaign. “All of us learn. I’ve learned in 40 years,” Brown said, “I think prisoners can learn.” The initiative, Brown argued, “orients the prison toward rehabilitation, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Innocent people died as a result.

Brown’s trick was to omit a definition of “non-violent felony” in the measure. Under pressure from the media, his campaign reluctantly acknowledged that the definition would be any crime not mentioned in an obscure section of the state Penal Code that lists 23 specific violent offenses.

There are dozens of crimes not on that list that ordinary persons would consider violent, including a slew of violent sexual assaults. Brown assured voters that violent sexual predators would remain behind bars when prison authorities issued regulations to implement Proposition 57 and it passed easily.

How did that work out? Prison officials did issue the promised regulations but two years ago, after Brown had retired, the state Supreme Court declared that rules could not modify the measure’s provisions without changing the law.

“The initiative’s language provides no indication that the voters intended to allow the (Corrections) department to create a wholesale exclusion from parole consideration based on an inmate’s sex offense convictions when the inmate was convicted of a nonviolent felony,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the unanimous decision.

The case was decided just weeks after voters rejected another ballot measure, Proposition 20, that would have closed the loophole reducing prison time for violent felons.

Dozens — and perhaps hundreds — of prison inmates who met the state’s generous provisions for earning parole have been released and inevitably some have continued to commit violent crimes.

Smiley Martin, who is awaiting trial for using a fully automatic pistol in a shootout with rival gang members in downtown Sacramento last spring that left six persons dead and 12 wounded, is one beneficiary. He had been released because his domestic violence conviction did not qualify as a violent crime.

Proposition 57 also made it more difficult for prosecutors to treat juvenile offenders as adults and a 2018 law passed by the Legislature allows felons who had been juveniles when they committed their crimes to have their sentences reduced.

Two months ago, Michael Xavier Bell was arrested for shooting a 60-year-old man to death in suburban Sacramento, just 73 days after he had been released from prison due to that law. Bell had been 14 when in 1980, he was given 53 years-to-life for breaking into a woman’s home with an accomplice and raping her in front of her 8-year-old son while pointing a gun at the boy’s head.

Is enough enough?

As Attorney General Rob Bonta was campaigning for a full term this year, he said Proposition 57 went too far.

“Domestic violence, human trafficking, rape of an unconscious person — all of those should be discussed and potentially changed under whatever the appropriate means is for Prop. 57,” Bonta told CalMatters. “I think if people are asked … ‘Is this a violent crime? Or is it not a violent crime?’ I think people will say, ‘It’s a violent crime,’ so I think those should be considered for change.”

We should hold him to that. We’ll see if Bonta sponsors legislation to close the deadly loophole that Brown foisted on the people he was sworn to protect six years ago.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, President/CEO, Mark Turner

Looking ahead 10 years seems like an eternity, but looking back 10 years makes you wonder where the time went so quickly. I find myself looking back over the last 10 years as I wind down my time here at the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and wondering where the time went. While I look forward to my new chapter in life as the Mayor of Morgan Hill, I will always be grateful for my time in Gilroy. I have had the good fortune of working with wonderful strategic partners and organizations, developing initiatives that have had an impact on this community, and advocating for local businesses. With all that said, nothing tops the relationships with the people I’ve worked closely with over all these years.

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has an incredible staff who loves this community and are working every day to make a difference. Thank you to Jude Miranda, Candace Van Sambeek, and Victoria Valencia for all you have done and will continue to do.

I have worked for outstanding individuals who make up and made up the Board of Directors over the years. They are committed to the success of the business community and the Chamber of Commerce. They have guided me, mentored me, and trusted me to do my thing as the CEO.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with those who have been involved with Visit Gilroy, Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, Gilroy Downtown Business Association, Gavilan College, Gilroy Unified School District, City of Gilroy, Gilroy Garlic Festival, the multiple business owners and operators as well as all those who have volunteered to make the Chamber a better organization.

Nothing stops time as it ticks by second by second. Looking back, I’m proud of the accomplishments of the Gilroy Chamber under my watch, but I’m most proud of the people my time in Gilroy has allowed me to call friend.

December 5, 2022

Welcome Gilroy Chamber Board Member, Andrea Nicolette

An area native, Andrea Nicolette was born and raised in Morgan Hill. After attending grade school and Live Oak High School, she earned her Business degree from San Diego State University. In the following years Andrea owned and operated two successful businesses in Hollister, and married her husband of 25 years – together raising three wonderful children.

Andrea began her 20-year career with the YMCA as a volunteer at the Central Coast YMCA and currently serves as the Executive Director of Mt. Madonna YMCA – bringing programs and services to the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area that enhance the health and well-being of our area’s youth and families.

Andrea devotes time and talent to local service organizations and currently serves as the Community Service Board Chair for Gilroy After Hours Rotary Club. She was named 2019 Ambassador of the Year and recently named 2022 Volunteer of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.


Welcome Gilroy Chamber Board Member, Gloria Dela Merced

Gloria Dela Merced is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for St. Louise Regional Hospital.

Gloria has over 30 years of nursing experience and is a proud member of the St. Louise family for over 22 years. She has served in a variety of roles including Nurse Executive, Director of Critical Care Services, Director of Surgery and Sterile Processing, Nursing Supervision, Critical Care Educator and Volunteer Services. Through these roles, she has provided outstanding management of operational and nursing activities and brought new important evidence-based practices to our organization. Gloria is a strong believer in fostering the competence of staff and she thoroughly enjoys helping others succeed in their career objectives. Gloria’s focus on patient care has always been steadfast and her positive attitude is contagious. She is compassionate, dedicated and service-driven professional. She is always looking to enhance and support the mission, vision and goals of the Santa Clara County Hospital and Health System and the communities we serve.

Gloria is originally from the Philippines and received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) (of course, as BSN Class President). She also received her Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) from Walden University and majored in Leadership and Management. Through her 37-year nursing career, Gloria has won countless awards and grants, served on many committees, and has been a leader in various organizations. She is a long-time board member of American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) and served as President for the Central Coast of California Chapter. She was also selected to serve on the national AACN Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) Practice Analysis Task Force which led to her serving on the Item Writing Group the following year.

She is a graduate of Leadership Gilroy (LG) in 2017 and proud to be in the LG Board since 2019.

Gloria lives in Gilroy with her husband and children and enjoys volunteering at community events such as annual flu shot events, health fairs, and career fairs at local high schools and other community events to promote health-related careers.

Welcome Gilroy Chamber Board Member, Sandy Le

Sandy began her professional career in the city of Gilroy in 2011 and is currently serving as the Director of Revenue & Group Sales at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. She has been instrumental in driving Group Sales and Revenue efforts in Food & Beverage, Merchandise, and Games over the last several years through innovation and implementation of new industry ideas. Results focused with strong event coordination skills and more than 10+ years of food experience that yield record earning revenue & per capita year over year.

Welcome to Visit Gilroy’s New Executive Director, Frank Johnson

Visit Gilroy and the California Welcome Center Gilroy is excited to welcome Frank Johnson as the new Executive Director. He brings over 15 years of tourism experience to his new role and more than 20 years of project management, marketing, sales, creative direction, educational programming, digital media, and customer service.

Frank was most recently employed as the Executive Director at the Museum of the Sierra (in Shaver Lake, California), which he helped revitalize after a major wildfire and pandemic shutdowns. He helped secure a one-million-dollar endowment for the museum and introduced several new exhibits and events while cultivating key donors and community partners.

Prior to the museum, Frank served as the program and outreach manager at Friends of the Hunley, a world-renowned museum and laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, featuring the Civil War-era combat submarine H.L. Hunley. He also worked at the Charleston Visitors and Convention Bureau, in destination management for Cruz Bay Watersports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in various project management roles for digital media and marketing companies in California and Florida.

Frank Johnson holds a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism from California State University, Fresno, and is a proud veteran of the United States Air Force.

“Having traveled extensively and sought out every opportunity to learn about diverse cultures, I am excited to take on this new challenge as leader of Visit Gilroy,” Frank said. “I’m passionate about all that Gilroy has to offer—our wonderful foods and wines, as well as our close proximity to hiking, coastal destinations, and other attractions. I look forward to elevating Gilroy as a destination for visitors while forging meaningful and long-lasting business relationships within the community.”

Visit Gilroy Board of Directors Chair Kurt Michielssen stated, “Frank brings a wealth of tourism experience and innovative ideas that we know will be a benefit to our organization. We are very glad to have him on board.”

Shop Locally for the Holidays

You don’t have to go far in Gilroy to prepare for and enjoy the holidays. Take advantage of the Gilroy Premium Outlets Mega Merry Holiday Gift Guide to find great holiday sales. Eat out and pick up some gift cards for local restaurants for loved ones. Visit a local winery for a tasting and purchase some wine and fun wine accessories for family and friends. Gilroy is a great place to find gifts!

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Economic Effects of California’s Wine Industry Grow 27% Over the Last 6 Years.

Article by the North Bay Business Journal

A new study supported by two wine industry groups puts the economic contribution of the industry in California annually at more than $73 billion in California and $170.5 billion for the U.S.

The report touted the direct and indirect influences from wineries, vineyards and related businesses. It is funded by the California Association of Winegrape Growers, said to represent growers of over half the grapes crushed in the state, and the Wine Institute, a public policy advocacy group of 1,000-plus California wineries and affiliated businesses.

“The vineyards of California are not only iconic postcard images of our state’s splendor, but also cradles of economic growth and pillars to many communities around the state,” association interim President Natalie Collins stated in the announcement Wednesday Nov. 30 of the study findings. “The report offers a testament to the hard work and commitment of California’s winegrape growers and vintners in building and preserving a truly sustainable economic driver.”


The Economic Impact of California Wine,” prepared by John Dunham & Associates, put the growth of economic impact of the industry in California at 27% (from $57.6 to $73 billion) and 49% in national impact (from $114.1 billion to $170.5 billion) over the past six years.

In a report issued in September, another study, this sponsored by the WineAmerica trade group from a study conducted by John Dunham & Associates, an economic consulting firm, and released at a Washington, D.C., news conference, concluded the American wine industry will generate more than $276 billion in domestic economic activity this year, with almost a third of the output coming from California.

In California, the report found an overall economic impact of $88 billion that contributed to 513,738 jobs and $32 billion in wages. It found there was $6.5 billion in direct economic activity in California for wine tourism ― which is a vital driver in the North Bay ― producing 75,831 jobs.

According to the California State Assembly’s Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, agriculture accounted for 1.5% of the state’s gross domestic product as of 2020 while the broad category of arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services accounted for 1.7%. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing accounted for 19%. The committee cited work done by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

On its website, Sonoma County Vintners states the industry employs more than 54,000 workers, pays $3.2 billion annually in wages, with 1 in 4 jobs related to the wine industry.

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