Gilroy Chamber Business Focus April 2023

April 24, 2023

Jaclyn Muro named Gilroy Foundation Executive Director

Jaclyn Muro has been named Executive Director of Gilroy Foundation. She has served as Executive Director of Gilroy Foundation’s Latino Family Fund (LFF) since January 2022.

Muro is a longtime resident of Gilroy, with a deep passion for preserving and sharing our community’s history. As Executive Director of Gilroy Foundation, she will be responsible for leading the organization’s overall strategic vision and direction, as well as continuing to be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations.

With over 14 years of experience in Finance and Communications, Muro brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the organization. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to serving the community and has received numerous awards and recognition for her contributions. She was awarded the L.I.F.T. (Lead.Inspire.Focus.Team) Award from Leadership Gilroy in 2022, and she led the Latino Family Fund to being named the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce 2023 Nonprofit of the Year.

As a leader at Gilroy Foundation, Muro is committed to work within the community to strengthen and connect our ties and be a place where everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and make a positive impact. With her leadership and guidance, we are confident that Gilroy Foundation will continue to make a difference in the lives of our community members, both now and in the future. Muro’s official start date is May 1, 2023.

Welcome to Gilroy Foundation’s new Executive Director!

April Spotlight: Enhancing City Ordinances

Mayor Marie Blankley

Hello Gilroy!

This month I’d like to spotlight four subjects that the City Council and City staff are working to address through enhanced city ordinances. None of these subjects are new, but all are challenging to manage without detailed, comprehensive, clear, and enforceable ordinances. The four subjects under current discussion are illegal fireworks, the Downtown Parking Management Plan, mobile and sidewalk vending, and banning unhoused camping near schools and critical infrastructure. As always, the subjects discussed here will be the topic of discussion at the next Conversation & Coffee with the Mayor on Saturday, May 6 at 9:30am in Council Chambers, where I will be joined by City Administrator, Jimmy Forbis. Join us and take part in finding solutions.

See you there!

Mayor Marie Blankley, CPA

Illegal Fireworks

Outside of the 4th of July, setting off fireworks of any kind is illegal in the City of Gilroy. On the 4th of July, Safe and Sane fireworks are permitted in certain parts of the city only. In areas of the city with a higher risk of fire, fireworks of any kind are not permitted EVER. In April 2022, the City Council adopted a Host Liability for Illegal Fireworks ordinance to assist the City in attaining compliance regarding prohibited uses of fireworks. This ordinance allows the City to cite property owners or renters for illegal activities that occur on their property or the property they rent even if the individual/possessor of the fireworks cannot be identified. To avoid a narrow application to property owners only, the ordinance is designed to apply to any person who has the right to use, possess or occupy a public or private property under a lease, permit, license, rental agreement, or contract. Additionally, the ordinance can be applied to any person who hosts, organizes, supervises, officiates, conducts, or accepts responsibility for a gathering on public or private property.

Violations of the ordinance result in an administrative citation carrying a fine of $1,000 for the first violation and $2,000 for every subsequent violation. In July 2022, 61 administrative citations were issued, and one criminal citation was referred to the District Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution. Of the 61 administrative citations issued, 27 requested appeal hearings. Of those 27, 16 citations were dismissed on appeal and 11 were upheld.

Even with video evidence from officer body cameras and drones, it can be difficult to pinpoint the specific individual user or possessor. In cases where the fireworks were launched in the street and the specific perpetrator could not be identified, a connection could not be made to private property situs to successfully create host liability. In May 2023 the City Council will again address this ordinance to consider what we learned from the Hearing Officer from the appeal hearings and how to strengthen our ability to enforce host liability for illegal fireworks year-round and illegal use of Safe and Sane fireworks on public streets.

Downtown Parking Management Plan

The Downtown Parking Management Plan is making great progress and is over halfway complete. After a comprehensive parking data collection and existing conditions assessment last fall, several workshops and meetings were held this winter with downtown businesses, downtown residents, and the community at large to receive input on downtown conditions and potential strategies for improving parking. The feedback has been extremely valuable in helping shape the strategies, and we welcome additional input via the project website. A draft parking plan will be discussed in a public hearing study session this summer, so be on the lookout for scheduling updates and we look forward to more great community participation. Once the Downtown Parking Management Plan is adopted, depending upon its approved recommendations, an ordinance may be enacted to help the City uphold and implement provisions of the parking plan for downtown.

Mobile Vending and Sidewalk Vending

Legislation adopted at the State level in recent years has limited local jurisdictions’ abilities to regulate street vending. Notably, Senate Bill 946 (SB 946), the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, decriminalized and legalized sidewalk vending. State legislation now allows vendors to sell food and merchandise on public sidewalks, pedestrian paths, and, in certain instances, public parks.

Currently, Gilroy City Code Chapter 16A, Peddlers, Solicitors, Vendors, and Other Transient Businesses, provides mobile vending requirements for the offering or selling of food, goods, merchandise, or services on private property, streets, parks, or other public places. Although the Gilroy City Code includes requirements for mobile vending, those requirements need to be amended to address health and safety concerns and to be in line with current State legislation for sidewalk vendors.

Under SB 946, a “sidewalk vendor” is defined as a person who sells food or merchandise from a pushcart, stand, display, pedal-driven cart, wagon, showcase, rack, or other non-motorized conveyance on a sidewalk or pedestrian path. SB 946 limits the City’s ability to regulate sidewalk vendors, but allows the City to adopt requirements regulating the time, place, and manner of sidewalk vending so long as the requirements are directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns. For example, proposed standards to strengthen our City Ordinance may include requiring sidewalk vendors to properly dispose of fats, grease, and oil, to possess and display in plain view a valid permit from the Santa Clara County Health Department, a valid sidewalk vending permit and a valid city business license. Note that SB 946 explicitly states, “… perceived community animus or economic competition does not constitute an objective health, safety, or welfare concern.”

At the April 17, 2023 City Council meeting, city staff provided the Council with a report that summarized current regulations and propose standards. Click here to view the report and corresponding video segment of the April 17th City Council meeting. Note that mobile food trucks are a separate issue from sidewalk vending and can be addressed separately depending on Council direction.

Unhoused Camping Ban Near Schools and Critical Infrastructure

At the July 5, 2022 City Council meeting, city staff presented a report to Council regarding the challenges and issues related to enforcement of no-camping ordinances. The report discussed the 2019 Boise decision that restricts local agencies from enforcing no-camping ordinances on public property, and also discussed elaborating language provided by other courts that provides local jurisdictions some leeway, such as: “Even where shelter is unavailable, an ordinance prohibiting sitting, lying, or sleeping outside at particular times or in particular locations might well be constitutionally permissible.”

At the September 12, 2022 City Council meeting, shortly after an encampment was cleared from a large area near a school that included space below a vehicular bridge, the city attorney reported on an ordinance sought by the City of Los Angeles to ban camping near daycares and parks. The City Council directed city staff to bring back key points for a potential ordinance that would prohibit unhoused camping within 500 feet of schools, parks, daycares and playgrounds; in areas with critical infrastructure; and in locations that would restrict access to public safety or public infrastructure locations.

At the March 20, 2023 City Council meeting, the City Council directed city staff to include the following key points in a potential ordinance.

No person shall obstruct by sitting, lying, or sleeping, or by storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property on a street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way:

(1) In a manner that impedes passage, as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L, No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990), as amended from time to time;

(2) Within five hundred (500) feet of any school, daycare facility, park, or playground. This prohibition applies all year, overnight, on any weekends and weekdays, even when such facilities may be generally considered closed.

(3) Within one hundred (100) feet of critical infrastructure or emergency and urgent health and safety resources, including water wells, pump stations, sewer lift stations, water tanks, storm drain inlets and outfalls, police and fire stations, ambulance stations, hospitals and medical clinics, railways, bridges and under and over-passes.

(4) Within ten (10) feet of any operational or utilizable building entrance, exit, driveway or loading dock.

(5) Within five (5) feet of any fire hydrant, fire plug, or other fire department connection.

(6) Within the public right-of-way in a manner that obstructs or unreasonably interferes with the use of the right-of-way for any activity for which the City has issued a permit.

(7) In a manner that obstructs any portion of any street or other public right-of-way open to use by motor vehicles, including any portion thereof marked as a bike lane.

(8) In creeks or creek embankments within the city limits.

Violations of this policy involving a person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs a City employee from enforcing this section or who willfully refuses to comply after being requested to do so by an authorized City employee would be subject to the penalties set forth in the Gilroy City code, and will be listed in detail in the upcoming proposed ordinance.

Staff is working on mapping the areas that would be affected by these policy points, and return with draft language and the map of potentially affected areas within the Gilroy city limits for review by the City Council, anticipated to be in June of 2023.

Labor/Employment-Related Job Killer Bills Moving in Legislature

Several troubling labor and employment-related job killer bills have been moving through the legislative committee process.

The bills passed last week including California Chamber of Commerce-opposed proposals that undermine arbitration, increase the minimum wage, chill employer speech on political matters, place onerous mandates on return-to-work activities, and expand costly litigation.

Committee actions are summarized below.

To Senate Appropriations

Two bills passed from Senate policy committees to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • SB 365 (Wiener; D-San Francisco) Undermines Arbitration. Discriminates against use of arbitration agreements by requiring trial courts to continue trial proceedings during any appeal regarding the denial of a motion to compel, undermining arbitration and divesting courts of their inherent right to stay proceedings.

SB 365 incorrectly assumes that all appeals related to arbitration are meritless. Moreover, the motive behind SB 365 to deter arbitration and single out arbitration from other types of proceedings will result in a finding that it is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 11, 8-2, and will be considered next by the Senate Appropriations Committee:

Ayes: Allen (D-Santa Monica), Ashby (D-Sacramento), Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Laird (D-Santa Cruz), McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Min (D-Irvine), Umberg (D-Santa Ana), Wiener (D-San Francisco).

Noes: Niello (R-Sacramento), Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

No vote recorded: Stern (D-Canoga Park).

  • SB 525 (Durazo; D-Los Angeles) Costly Minimum Wage Increase. Imposes significant cost on health care facilities and any employer who works with health care facilities by mandating increase in minimum wage to $25/hour.

If passed, the bill will cost health care facilities billions of dollars, reducing access to critical health care services, increasing health care costs and reducing jobs. The inevitable ripple effect of SB 525 would be a mix of increased cost of care and reduced jobs and services.

Broad language in the bill covers employers of all sizes outside the health care sector, including those that may employ any worker who sets foot on the premises of a health care facility or who performs any “health care service” for a facility. These services are broadly defined to include janitorial staff, food service, laundry and more.

Passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on April 12, 4-1, and will be considered next by Senate Appropriations:

Ayes: Cortese (D-San Jose), Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles).

No: Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

To Senate Judiciary

Senate Labor passed two bills along to Senate Judiciary for further work by the same 4-1 vote as SB 525:

  • SB 399 (Wahab; D-Hayward) Bans Employer Speech. Chills employer speech regarding religious and political matters, including unionization. Is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment and preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.

In opposing SB 399, the CalChamber noted that it will have a chilling effect on any speech related to political matters and that existing state and federal laws already protect employees.

The bill violates the First Amendment by prohibiting employers from providing a forum for discussion, debate and expressing their opinions about matters of public concern. In addition, any prohibition against employers speaking about unionization is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.

  • SB 627 (Smallwood-Cuevas; D-Los Angeles) Onerous Return to Work Mandate. Imposes an onerous and stringent process to hire employees based on seniority alone for nearly every industry, including hospitals, retail, restaurants, movie theaters, and franchisees, which will delay hiring and eliminates contracts for at-will employment.

SB 627 will bog down hiring and undermine basic management for businesses. It seeks to micromanage the rehire process for the affected businesses. Several of the provisions will delay rehiring and increase costs on employers.

The CalChamber has pointed out there is no justification for SB 627 and it likely violates the contracts clauses in the U.S. and California constitutions. As defined in the bill, “chain” would include a multitude of businesses and industries, such as retail, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals/health care facilities, movie theaters, and more. For all these industries, SB 627 creates a problematic, permanent statutory scheme that eliminates at-will employment and mandates hiring based on seniority alone.

In addition, SB 627 would have a negative impact on franchisees; its definition of “chains” would include locations independently owned by franchisees. California has nearly 76,000 franchise units. Franchise establishments are locally owned small businesses operating under a national brand or identity. The local business owners are in charge of all employment decisions, including hiring, firing, wages and benefits. It is the local franchisee who owns and operates the establishment, not the franchisor. In fact, the national brands have no role whatsoever in determining any day-to-day operations of a franchisee’s employees, employment or hiring practices of a franchisee.

To Assembly Appropriations

The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee sent one job killer to the Assembly Appropriations Committee:

  • AB 524 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Expansion of Litigation Under FEHA. Exposes employers to costly litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by asserting that any adverse employment action was in relation to the employee’s family caregiver status, which is broadly defined to include any employee who contributes to the care of any person of their choosing, and creates a de facto accommodation requirement that will burden small businesses.

Problems with AB 524 identified by the CalChamber include the broadly defined term “family caregiver status,” which is a subjective determination.

The de facto accommodation requirement established by the bill is in addition to existing leave laws that provide employees time to act as a caregiver with penalties for employers that retaliate against an employee for using the leave such as: school or childcare center being unavailable, California Family Rights Act (broadened this year to include designated nonfamily members), the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act and related “kin care” laws.

AB 524 exposes employers, including small businesses, to costly litigation due to its private right of action.

Passed Assembly Labor and Employment on April 12; will be considered next by Assembly Appropriations:

Ayes: Haney (D-San Francisco), Kalra (D-San Jose), Ortega (D-San Leandro), Reyes (D-San Bernardino), Ward (D-San Diego).

Noes: Chen (R-Yorba Linda), Flora (R-Ripon).

April 17, 2023

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

Alpine Landscapes
C & N Tractor
Gavilan College
Gilroy Library
Gilroy Premium Outlets
Golden 1 Credit Union
International Paper – Gilroy
Mission Linen Supply
St. Joseph’s Family Center

20 Years & over

A Festive Affair Party Rental
Betabel RV Park
Black Bear Diner
Ernie’s Plumbing & Repair Service
Informed Choices
South Pacific Orchids
Valley Water
Visual Edge Optometric Group
Wings of History

10 Years & over

El Grullense Jal
Meineke Car Care Center
Michele Campbell Insurance Services
Santa Clara County Assoc. of Realtors
ServiceMaster
Visiting Angels

5 Years and over

Gilroy Life
Jay Johnson & Associates, LLC
R Titus Waterproofing
South County Tail Waggers
The Appropriate Connection

Legislative Summit Brings Elected Officials to Gilroy

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce hosted its 10th Annual Legislative Summit last Friday at Old City Hall Restaurant. Part of the Gilroy Chamber’s mission is to represent the business community’s interests at all levels of government. This annual event brings together elected officials who represent Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin with community and business leaders.

With nearly 100 people in attendance, elected officials presented information ranging from workforce and education initiatives to the widening of 101. Anderson Dam was discussed along with infrastructure updates to South County. Other topics included resiliency of California’s energy grid, mental health resources, and resources for first responders.

The elected officials who presented included Mayor Marie Blankley (Gilroy); Mayor Mark Turner (Morgan Hill); Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren; Assemblymember Gail Pellerin; Senator John Laird; and Valley Water District Director, John Varela. Assemblymember Robert Rivas and County Supervisor Sylvia Arenas were unable to attend.

Senator John Laird presented, Fran Beaudet, owner of Old City Hall Restaurant with a certificate that read:
“In Honor of Your Longstanding commitment to the success of the City of Gilroy…I want to thank you for your many years of service in our downtown. You are a shining example of how small businesses help our community thrive.”

The Chamber would like to thank the sponsors of the event which included:

  • Olam Fresh Ingredients (ofi)
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Performance Food Group (PFG)
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Heritage Bank of Commerce
  • Recology – South Valley
  • GilPac
  • Bhandal Brothers Inc.
  • Intempus Property Management
  • State Farm – Gina Lopez Agency
  • Johnny’s Custom Auto Body
  • Pinnacle Bank
  • Mi Ocampo Financials
  • Cline Glass
  • Valley Water
  • Bracco’s Towing & Transport

 

 

Downtown Gilroy's Wine and Art Walk 2023

We are very excited for our upcoming Wine and Art Walk on Saturday, May 20th. This year we have added Art from local and regional artists to our event, live music throughout the walk, artisan vendors, and small bite stops. The Art Walk begins at 10:00 a.m. Come and stroll, meet the artists and listen to music from 10:00 to 5:00! Our Wine and Art Walk 2023 Poster was designed by our own Gilroy artist Ruben Villa. If you are interested in exhibiting your art please see the Call for Entry at www.downtowngilroy.com or using the QR code below. The deadline for submission is May 1. Artisan vendors can simply register using the QR code as well.

There will be 25 wineries pouring at businesses throughout our historic downtown from 1:00 to 5:00. Check-in will be at the Gilroy Center for the Arts located at 7341 Monterey Road on the corner of 7th Street and Monterey Road. You will then stroll along to each of the pour stations and have a chance to visit various businesses and artists along the way. Monterey Road will be closed to traffic between 4th and 6th Streets and open to pedestrian traffic for the Art Walk. Convenient parking is available in the new parking lot at 7th Street and Eigleberry Street as well as the Caltrain Station.

Live music will be playing throughout the Walk. The bands performing this year are David Johnson, Lavender Fields Band, The Soft Lights and Casey Bogdan. There is a family friendly area for kids to have fun with various games and kid friendly vendors.

The Gilroy Downtown Business Association and the Wine and Art Walk Committee have been hard at work preparing to host this fantastic event. Please tell all your friends and get your tickets early! You will get a Wine and Art Walk bag with an event glass, wine charm and more. Purchase tickets now for $55 or $60 at the door, by using the following link and QR code. Any questions, please feel free to contact us at nancy@downtowngilroy.com or call 408-842-0005. www.downtowngilroy.com

 

Protect Against Online Banking Account Takeover!

Pinnacle Bank takes online safety seriously by educating our clients about measures they can take to assist in the prevention of online account take overs. We encourage all clients to be aware of the signs of potential fraud.

General Safety

  • Use strong and unique passwords and frequently change your passwords
  • Never share username or passwords
  • Do not use public or unsecured computers or WiFi
  • Ensure computers are updated with the latest version of licensed anti-virus and anti-spyware

Business Safety

  • Implement dual control for financial transactions
  • Never leave your computer unattended
  • Delete user IDs upon employee termination
  • Limit administrative rights on workstations
  • Actively manage firewall
  • Ensure computers are patched regularly

Remember! Pinnacle Bank will never contact you on an unsolicited basis and request customer provisions of electronic banking credentials.

 

To learn more about how to protect you and your business click here.

 

April 10, 2023

Downtown Improvement Incentive Programs

Incentives for Downtown Businesses and Properties

Our downtown businesses are an important part of our community and provide services and experiences that make our community unique. The incentive programs will help downtown businesses by assisting efforts to revive and refresh their business properties which in turn may stimulate growth in our local economy.

These programs are not exclusive, and can be combined for a total maximum of $15,000 for eligible properties and projects. Applicants may apply twice to the various programs, but the second application can only be submitted after ninety (90) days of the first application submittal.

2023 Downtown Façade Improvement and Blight Removal Program

Receive a 50% rebate of up to $5,000 to help fund minor façade improvements such as awnings, paint, windows, parklet, and other minor improvements, and up to an additional $5,000 for blight removal projects on vacant properties.

Application period opens on February 1, 2023, at 8 AM. Applications are available at this link, or paper copies available at the lobby of City Hall. Applications may be submitted through e-mail, mailed to City Hall, or delivered in person to the Information Desk at City Hall.

2023-2024 Downtown Building and Planning Permit Fee Reduction Policy

Receive a 50% rebate of up to $5,000 for all City-related building and planning fees. This is available to any downtown business or property owner that pulls a permit for buildings along Monterey Road between First and Tenth Streets. The program will continue for permit applications submitted between February 1, 2023 and January 1, 2025, and the permit must be finalized within the permit timeframe without extension. Below is the Council resolution authorizing the program. When your project is complete, simply contact Community Development and inform them that you would like to request a Downtown Permit Fee reimbursement. If you are planning on receiving a permit fee reimbursement for a project, your project may require prevailing wages to be paid. Those planning to submit for a reimbursement are responsible to comply with California’s prevailing wage requirements.

Resolution No. 2023-04 – User Fee Discount

Questions? Contact Bryce Atkins at (408) 846-0210 or by e-mail to bryce.atkins@cityofgilroy.org.

Business Resources for Earthquake Preparedness

It’s always a good time to prepare for an earthquake, and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), is encouraging businesses to take the time to update their emergency plan to make sure their business, employees, and customers are earthquake-prepared.

Here are some of the ways to receive earthquake warnings:

MyShake App. An app that can be downloaded for mobile devices at no cost from Google Play and the Apple App Store. App users can set up a “HomeBase” location to receive earthquake warnings without having location services turned on.

Android Earthquake Alerts. Included in new or updated Android devices, the system uses the same technology as the MyShake App.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). Text-like messages from the government during emergency situations. This includes Presidential, Imminent Threats (fire, earthquake, floods, etc.), and AMBER alerts.

Visit earthquake.ca.gov to learn more about the latest tools and resources and how to use them.

AI for Business: Bewares and Boasts

AI for Business: Bewares and Boasts – Practical ways to use it in business and what to avoid

At first glance, especially for people who have trouble writing or have difficulty starting out and collecting their thoughts at a keyboard, AI can feel like the smartest kid in the class offering to do your homework for free, forever. It seems like a huge win and I’m not saying it isn’t. But there are a few things you should be aware of as well as some tasks it does tremendously well that could save you a lot of time and energy.

AI “Doesn’t Always Get It Right”

Google’s new Bard (AI) issued this statement to all users, “Bard will not always get it right.
Bard may give inaccurate or inappropriate responses. When in doubt, use the ‘Google it’ button to check Bard’s responses.” This is true of all AI. AI is not a sentient being. It gets its answers and content by crawling the web and condensing information. Sometimes that can cause problems.

It doesn’t:
• Fact check or verify stats and attributions/citations
• Sift out bad info (if that information is mentioned in a variety of places)
• Have any vested interest in producing SEO-rich content for you (unless you use an AI program that is created for that)
• Know what your audience responds to

AI Has Different Levels of Sophistication

There are many free options out there as well as AI/bot starters where you can build your own “in minutes.” It’s important to know that each one has different capabilities and claims—some have a plagiarism detector, for instance, so you needn’t worry about the copy it creates for you being flagged as duplicate content.

It’s Only as Good as What You Feed It

The real benefit of using AI lies in its ability to create content in a fraction of the time it takes for a human to write it. Even talented writers using dictation software or ones blessed with 100+ words per minute typing skills, can’t research and write a 300-word blog post in a minute.

But the content is only as good as the instructions you give it. For instance, if you were producing a blog post about Golden Retrievers, as a dog walker your blog would be different than that of a dog breeder/dog show participant, which would be different still from a vet’s perspective written for other vets. The level of sophistication and knowledge is different for each of those audiences. You will need to express that in the directions you provide the AI if you want a good piece of content that fits the needs and understanding of your audience.

AIs Struggle with Same Names

When I asked Google’s AI Bard what Bard does really well as research for this article, it responded with things that a bard/storyteller excels at, not what it does. (However, when I asked “what do you do well?,” it provided a satisfactory answer.

So, if your business shares a name with something else or you’re using a play on words or employing a name/word in a different context, the program may not produce helpful results.

5 Things AI Does Well

Now that you know what to watch out for, let’s cover a few things it does really well. Using AI for these things can save you lots of time.

1. Help you brainstorm. If you’re rewriting your business tagline and you have part of it but can’t think of the perfect ending, try giving an AI writer a prompt such as, “help me finish my <insert type of business> tagline <insert what you have so far>.
2. Come up with invite language. Basic invite language is a breeze for AIs. Canva has one built in.
3. Write simple emails or letters. Creating form letters can be a pain but not with AI. Feed it the necessary info and you can move on to a better use of your time.
4. Create an org chart. Provide your positions and it will give you what you need.
5. Produce content without colorful language. Many writers lament that the content AI creates is boring. It lacks colorful language and stories. While it can create stories for you, it won’t add a story example to a blog post. However, “boring” is not always bad.

If you want to create content that lacks biased language AI might be the way to go. Don’t ditch your editor yet but I have not come across any use of language bias when employing an AI assistant.

Is using AI right for you and your business? Perhaps. But keep in mind, it is a tool, not an additional employee. It can produce content in a fraction of the time, but it requires oversight. It does not always generate content ready to be used as is. If you envision what it creates as a starting point product like how a sous chef does the prep work for a top chef, you have a good understanding of how you might use it in your business.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base.

 

 

5 Ways to Improve (or Build) Team Culture in Your Small Business

Many small businesses overlook the importance of team culture. They might do so because they feel they have a transient workforce and people won’t stick around. It’s possible they believe they’re simply too small and team culture is for larger companies like Nike. But that’s not the case. A team or company culture is as important as your brand. You’re not too small for one of those, are you?

Why Team Culture Is Important to Small Business

Team culture is important in small business because it shapes the attitudes, behaviors, and interactions of employees within the group. A strong team culture can create a sense of unity and shared purpose among employees, which can lead to increased productivity, satisfaction, and revenue.

In a small business, the actions of every team member can have a significant impact on the success of the business. When employees share a common set of values and goals, they are more likely to work together effectively in achieving those goals. A strong team culture creates a supportive work environment that encourages collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

A strong culture can also help you attract and retain top talent. When employees feel they are part of a team that values their contributions and supports their growth and development, they are more likely to feel engaged and committed to their work. This, in turn, can lead to higher job satisfaction and employee retention rates. Even if you operate a seasonal business, employees who like your culture will return on their breaks and/or refer you to others looking for work. Plus, satisfied employees always provide better service.

How Do You Build (or Improve) Team Culture?

So how do you build a strong team culture in a small business? It’s easier than you think. You just need to focus on five areas of importance:

1. Defining business values and goals
2. Hiring the right people
3. Encouraging good communication and valuing input
4. Recognizing and rewarding success
5. Leading by example

Defining Business Values and Goals

Knowing who you want to be is the first step to building your company culture. Without this critical piece, you are putting your car together while you’re driving down the road. Not ideal, and likely to cause more confusion and inefficiency than if you took the time initially to put it all together beforehand. That’s not to say you can’t create or rework values and goals as an established business, but you’ll save yourself headache if you do it upfront.

After you have established your core values and goals, communicate those to your employees and your customers. This will help people know what’s important to you and what you stand for. Making your values and goals public will attract the type of people who like these things about you and identify with them.

Hiring the Right People

Hiring and training are some of the most expensive parts of your business. When you make a bad hire, you not only struggle to have them do the work, but you run the risk of their attitude or bad practices infecting the rest of your employees. Before you hire anyone, be clear on the kind of attributes you want in an employee. Sometimes an empty seat is better than one filled by the wrong person.

After you hire, remember the words of Perry Belcher, co-founder of DigitalMarketer.com, “Nothing will kill a good employee faster than watching you tolerate a bad one.”

Encouraging Open Communication

For your team to work together effectively, you want them to feel secure and welcome to bring up issues, congratulations, feedback, and any other kind of communication. You can do this by being easy to get in touch with and setting up regular communication channels. Find out how your employees like to communicate. If texting is their preference, so be it. Make sure you (and other levels of leadership, if you have them) are approachable.

When employees come to you with a concern or feedback, listen to them and respond to what they have to say. You may want to create an avenue where they can provide anonymous feedback too.

Recognizing and Rewarding Success

Recognition and reward are important to any high-performance team but what type of recognition/reward is valued by each employee varies. Understand what makes them happy. If you employ high school kids or college students, money and gift card rewards could be large motivators for them. If your employees have a family, a bonus day off may be a bigger draw. Make recognition a regular practice even if it’s just small recognitions you give. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

Lead by Example

You (and your leadership) should be working examples of the team culture. You must model desired behaviors and encourage growth and development. If your team doesn’t see you doing the things you ask of them, it will erode the trust they have in you and discount what you say. For instance, if you stress the importance of work/life balance but they never see you go home, they’ll have a hard time believing you mean it.

Building a memorable team culture is an ongoing commitment. It will help you attract the right employees and customers. Being without a team culture is like deciding your business doesn’t need a brand. How will people recognize you without one?

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base.

 

 

April 3, 2023

Visit Gilroy Events

The Gilroy Dream Wedding Expo

On March 26, 2023, Visit Gilroy welcomed 150 guests to the lovely Gilroy Lodge on the Hill for our annual Gilroy Dream Wedding Expo. Guests were greeted by our friendly check-in table hosts, and brides were given swag bags and a raffle passport card to enter in our prize drawing for a one-night stay and dinner for two at CordeValle resort.

Beautiful decorations and photo ops were placed throughout the property and included large, lit marquee letters decorated with elaborate balloon displays and eye-catching floral displays on the stage. A tasty, colorful signature drink served at the Lodge’s bar was a big hit with the guests!

We connected attendees of the Wedding Expo with a variety of 35 vendors, from a bridal boutique to hotels, bakers, caterers, beauty and health vendors, photographers, photo booths, event décor, a music duo and a DJ, transportation, a mobile bartender, a realtor and an insurance agent, and several beautiful local venues. Our vendors also appreciated the opportunity to connect with other vendors to develop local business partnerships.

The Gilroy Dream Wedding Expo provided us with an opportunity to showcase Gilroy as a a desirable, affordable wedding destination. It promoted local businesses that support the bride and groom in planning their wedding and businesses that will cater to their guests when they are in town. Our Visit Gilroy booth gave out brochures, including visitor guides, restaurant guides, wineries, and even Gilroy Gardens, which families coming for weddings can enjoy during their stay.

The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival

Join us in welcoming the 17th Annual Poppy Jasper International Film Festival (PJIFF) that will bring filmmakers and film-lovers from around the world to Gilroy and our neighboring cities for eight days of films and fun. From April 12-19, 2023, the Festival will showcase 260 films from 30 countries.

Gilroy will host movie showings and the Festival kick-off at The District Theater, as well as the ”Poppy Bash” at Capos Event Center and a Mimosa Brunch at Besson Family Vineyard. In between Festival events, visitors will be exploring the area, including restaurants, local bars, breweries, and wineries, entertainment venues, and more.

The Film Festival also includes special speaker panels, private screenings, online workshops, collaborations with other local organizations, and awards.

You can purchase tickets or passes for the events or sign up to volunteer. Let’s celebrate the PJIFF bringing people from around the world to Gilroy.

"Am I Going To Be Okay?"

By Jeffrey M. Orth, ChFC, CASL

Painfully, I remember the phone call. She called me, crying, not knowing how she would cope with the loss of her husband. I could envision her tears and felt helpless to find the words that would bring her some comfort. The thought of this lovely woman, crushed by her devastating sadness, filled me with sorrow. Her husband was a dear friend and his untimely death had caught us all by surprise. We shared so many interwoven memories and now, they were just that – memories.

I have long understood that an important part of my responsibility as a financial planner and wealth manager is to support people in the most personal and meaningful way possible. My first obligation is to try to protect those I serve from loss, whether with their investments, or as in this case, from the loss of income to a surviving spouse. At times like this, when everyone else is at the door with good intentions, I am grateful that I am able to provide tangible assistance when it is needed most.

On the way to meet with this new widow, I was struck by the fact that life was going on as usual for everyone I passed. There were children playing in the park, a man washing his car, and yet this woman’s life had been turned upside down. When she opened the door it was obvious she was overcome with grief. I hugged her and attempted to be of comfort to her. lt was clear she was just trying to figure out how she was going to go on without the love of her life. And then she asked me the question that I always hear from the recently widowed, “Am I going to be okay?”

I was so grateful that, in this case, I was able to answer, “Your husband loved you so much that he purchased a large life insurance policy. I am confident, that with reasonably good planning, financially, you are indeed going to be okay.” For her, there would be time to heal from such a great personal loss, free from financial concerns. This is not always the case.

I can think of no better way to show your loved ones how much you care about them, than by making sure they are able to stay ‘in their world’ should something tragic happen to you. Having a life insurance policy that provides enough money to compensate for lost income and support will enable your family to keep as much of their lives intact as possible.

Even though time has passed since I met with this widow, the memory has stayed with me because it reminds me that protection is the priority when putting together a well thought-out financial plan.

This example is for educational purposes only and should not be considered specific investment advice which can only be provided on an individualized basis.

Registered Representative of, and Securities and Investment Advisory services are offered through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, LLC (HTK). Registered Investment Advisor, Member of FINRA/SPIC, 600 Dresher Road, Horsham, PA 19044. 1-800-873-7637. Integrated Financial Benefits is independent of HTK. HTK does not provide legal and tax advice. CA license# OC49291.

Gilroy Elevate the Arts Grant Program

Application and Program Guidelines

Background

This grant program is made possible through a partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the County of Santa Clara. In alignment with the mission of SVCREATES, these grants aim to elevate artists and the arts community in Gilroy by demonstrating the role arts can play in equitable community empowerment, activation and revitalization.

Objectives for Gilroy Elevate the Arts Grants

  • Support the creation and presentation of culturally relevant artistic work
  • Raise the visibility and voice of local artists
  • Engage the community and activate public spaces through the arts
  • Catalyze capacity and resilience in our historically under-resourced arts ecosystem
  • Rally public support of the arts as a fundamental part of Gilroy’s economic & urban development

Grant Opportunity

Artists and arts organizations based in the greater Gilroy area are invited to apply for projects and/or programs to be delivered in Gilroy between June 15, 2023 and July 31, 2024.

Grants will be competitive and limited by the available funding. Partial funding may be awarded. Grant request range will be $5,000 – $15,000. Approximately 5 to 8 grants will be awarded.

Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Eligible applicants can be individual artists, nonprofit arts organizations, or creative small businesses or LLCs (note that individual artists, LLCs, or for-profit businesses without a fiscal sponsor will be responsible for any tax obligation required when receiving grants).
  • Eligible artists and organizations will be based in the greater Gilroy area (including San Martin, Morgan Hill, Hollister, San Juan Bautista).
  • Eligible applicants will include a lead artist or organization with a minimum of three years of experience with arts projects or programming in the Gilroy area OR a minimum of three previous specific art pieces or projects or work samples to show; these may include murals, festivals, programs for youth, performances, or organized exhibits, etc.
  • Eligible projects will serve Gilroy residents and take place in central Gilroy.
  • Eligible projects will engage local artists.
  • Eligible lead applicants must be 21 years old or older; younger artists of all ages are welcome to participate and be on project teams.

Apply Now 

Earth Month: Invest in Our Planet

Rosso Furniture & Décor has long championed environmental stewardship. This Earth Day, they are pleased to offer you easy opportunities to love our planet. One simple way to divert waste from landfills is through the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program.

This program, whenever possible, leverages the existing solid waste infrastructure. For many Californians, this means your mattress is being diverted from waste to recycling whether your retailer takes it back with your new purchase, your city or a waste hauler picks it up at curbside or you drop it off at a participating location. Rosso Furniture & Décor of Morgan Hill is a participating drop off location!

More than 75% of a mattress can be recycled. The steel, foam, fibers and wood are turned into everyday products like carpet padding, industrial filters, construction rebar and garden mulch.

MRC’s program recycles foam and innerspring mattresses, futon mattresses that can separate from the futon frame or base, as well as box springs. At collection locations, unit limits vary by location and residency restrictions may apply. We recommend contacting the location prior to drop-off.

This Earth Day, we hope you will visit ByeByeMattress.com to learn how to recycle your mattress or share this information with a friend or family member.

EmployABILITY Business Grant Applications Open

The EmployABILITY Business Grant offers small and medium-sized businesses grants of $20,000 to $200,000 to help grow their businesses and provide job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In addition, business owners can use funds for consulting services, new equipment, accessibility modifications to their locations, and more. It’s free and easy for business owners to apply. The website offers resources for small business owners to use when preparing to apply. Click here to learn more.

The Demand Side Employment Initiative (DSEI) is an employer incentive program that aims to support small and medium-sized businesses while encouraging them to hire people with disabilities. DSEI comprises the following elements: the EmployABILITY Business Grant, the EmployABILITY targeted marketing campaign, earn and learn opportunities, human resources training, and collateral. For more information on DSEI, visit here.

Four 2023 Bills That Would Negatively Affect California Employers

CalChamber employment law expert Matthew Roberts and CalChamber Policy Advocate Ashley Hoffman discuss four bills that, if passed, would significantly affect California employers — and not in a good way: SB 809, AB 747, SB 399 and SB 525.

SB 809: Replaces Fair Chance Act

In the podcast, Roberts and Hoffman start by discussing SB 809, which Hoffman says would, at its core, replace the Fair Chance Act, which prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s conviction history during the hiring process and allows employers to run a background check only after making a conditional job offer.

SB 809 goes quite a few steps past that, according to Hoffman, who says that it essentially prohibits employers from inquiring about conviction history and running background checks — or considering such information even if it’s voluntarily disclosed or readily available online.

“So even if you saw an article about your employee or an applicant and something they did, you could not consider it when you’re deciding whether to hire or promote someone,” she says, adding that the only exception is if existing law specifically grants the right to do a background check, “or essentially grants you the right, by saying something like, ‘You can’t hire someone who has had a DUI for this position,’ or something along those lines” (as seen in certain health care-, banking- or transportation-related positions).

This concept raises many red flags with employers, Roberts says, adding that SB 809 also would affect the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and California’s Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), both of which mandate that employers follow certain disclosure and authorization requirements when running criminal background checks.

The bill, Hoffman explains, would amend the ICRAA to require that any investigative consumer report notice also include:

  • All specific job duties for the position that may have a direct or adverse relationship to a potential conviction; and
  • A statement that includes all of the laws and regulations that impose restrictions or prohibitions for employment on the basis of a conviction that would prohibit the employer from hiring a certain person.

And the big issue here, she notes, is that ICRAA/FCRA cases are brought all the time, so if an employer were to forget one regulation, one law — or forget or not realize one job duty should be included — they could face serious litigation for a violation.

The biggest concern, however, is the prohibition on background checks and conviction history, Hoffman says, because many laws out there allow employers to run a background check or say some individuals can’t be hired for certain positions. But many industries — like restaurants and other customer-facing industries, or businesses that aren’t banks but handle sensitive financial information — aren’t covered by such laws, and not being able to run a background check could put those businesses in a vulnerable position.

And that vulnerability extends to workplace violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault. “You don’t want to be hiring someone who has a record of that, and then put them in a position where they may be working alone with a coworker,” she says, “and, unbeknownst to you, that coworker’s now vulnerable.”

AB 747: ‘Restricts’ Already-Prohibited Noncompete Clauses

Noncompete agreements — agreements that essentially prohibit an employee from working for a competitor within a certain timeframe — are unenforceable in California. But because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently declared it was going to work toward restricting their use and President Joe Biden made remarks about the practice, the California Legislature is attempting to “tighten the screws a bit further” with a few bills, one of which is AB 747, Roberts says.

Despite state statute being interpreted to outlaw noncompete agreements and California courts for decades holding them unenforceable, Hoffman says, technically nothing in the Labor Code specifically bans them. “So, [AB] 747 wants to codify that,” she says, “as well as include an enforcement mechanism by which there could be penalties if you’re including these agreements in your employee contracts.”

This bill also includes a training component that Hoffman says is concerning. Currently, under Labor Code section 2802, employers are required to reimburse employees for any reasonably necessary business expense, which has been interpreted to also include employer-mandated training — but doesn’t include something like a license. Under AB 747, essentially any training an employee would need to do their job is included as reimbursable, and the bill really exempts licensure only before someone is in the position.

“A lot of the impetus for this came from some reports about employers who sometimes will pay for an employee to have certain training, and then they say, ‘Oh, if you leave before two years, you have to pay us back,’” Hoffman says. “And that is being viewed, I think, by the author as a form of a noncompete.”

The key with this bill, according to Hoffman, is to strike a balance in this legislation between employer-mandated trainings and not hindering employers’ willingness to pay for employees to get, say, a master’s degree or something along those lines.

SB 399: Political Communications

Since the start of the pandemic, Roberts says, employers have become more and more comfortable finding their voices around political issues — and SB 399 addresses their ability to share their opinions with employees.

More specifically, Hoffman says the bill states that employers aren’t allowed to require employees to attend a meeting or “participate in communications” regarding political or religious matters — and “political matters is really where the heart of the bill is,” she says. “It’s essentially where the employer is expressing their viewpoint on political matters, which could include legislation, a political party, a candidate, whether or not to join or not join a labor organization.”

This bill, Hoffman continues, essentially takes away the employer’s right to have what are sometimes referred to as “captive audience” meetings, where they require employees to attend and could express their opinion on unionization, for example. But the way the bill is written, she says, could have a chilling effect on any discussion regarding politics or unionization.

“If you’re standing in the hallway with your supervisor and they start talking about something, or maybe someone else comes up and asks a question — you could see an employee saying, ‘Oh, I felt like I couldn’t leave,’” Hoffman says. “I think the consequence of the bill is that it’s going to make employers feel like they can’t ever talk about these subjects. … When you have a bill out there like this, it makes you feel like you really can’t say anything to your workers.”

One thing to note is that other states have attempted to pass this type of bill and local jurisdictions have attempted to pass such ordinances — most of which have been struck down when challenged, as they were preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Concerns about the First Amendment and an employer’s right to talk about some of these issues also exist.

Interestingly, California already prohibits forcing an employee to engage in politics and retaliating against employees based on engaging or not engaging on certain issues, Hoffman says, and a lot of rules already exist around what employers can do as far as discussing unionization: They can’t threaten someone, promise something in exchange or spy on them. “A lot of these protections, from our point of view, really are already in place.”

SB 525: Health Care Facility-Based Minimum Wage

Over the last few years, the California Legislature has moved into crafting rules and regulations that apply only to particular industries, Roberts says, and this year’s SB 525 would require health care facilities to pay all of their workers a minimum of $25 per hour, which would mean $50 per hour minimum for salaried workers.

But SB 525 isn’t limited solely to health care employees.

“If you read the language, this $25-per-hour requirement actually applies to anyone who steps foot on the premises of a health care facility or does work for a health care facility,” Hoffman says, noting that a delivery driver would qualify for this minimum wage while making deliveries at the hospital, as would caterers for an event held on hospital grounds. “It’s actually putting this really significant minimum wage increase and the obligations from that on quite a few companies that are not, themselves, health care facilities.”

For Roberts, this bill is akin to how local ordinances in California operate.

“With the local ordinances, where you’re performing the work is within the city limits,” he says. “And as you’ve explained with this health care minimum wage, you’re just performing the work at a health care facility — you’re not an actual health care employee, which I think is a problem here.”

The California Chamber of Commerce is the largest broad-based business advocate to government in California, working at the state and federal levels for policies to strengthen California. 

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