Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-December 2021

December 20, 2021

Thank You to Our Renewing Members!

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, work and play.

30 Years & over

Casa de Fruta

Williams Dental Lab

Cypress Pointe Apts.

20 Years & over

I.F.D.E.S. Lodge

Castro Valley Properties

10 Years & over

Dental Office of Dawn Pan

The Gilroy Assistance League

American Assoc. Of University Women, Gilroy Branch

5 Years and over

Old City Hall

Gilroy and Gavilan Golf Course

Sergi Properties – Masoni, Sergi

Gilroy Veterans Hall

Charlie’s Liquors

Robot Shark

Stages Unlimited

United Genetics Seed Co.

Coldwell Banker, Richard Mackie

Visit Gilroy Executive Director-Jane Howard-Announces Retirement


Media Contact:

Vic Vanni

Chairman, Visit Gilroy Board of Directors

(408) 847-6306

Visionary Visit Gilroy Leader Jane Howard to Retire in June 2022

December 16, 2021: After 17 years as a community leader at the helm of Visit Gilroy and the California Welcome Center Gilroy, Executive Director Jane Howard has announced that she plans to retire on June 30, 2022. Under her stewardship, Gilroy’s destination marketing organization (Gilroy Visitors Bureau dba Visit Gilroy) has served as an economic development leader and has elevated Gilroy to a well-known destination for visitors from around the world. 

“Jane created a dynamic team and has been a visionary leader for Gilroy,” stated Vic Vanni, Visit Gilroy Chairman of the Board. “Since joining the organization in January 2005, she has led with collaboration, enthusiasm, and integrity. She earned the respect of community leaders, partner agencies, and residents by engaging them and bringing them together in regional efforts to encourage visitation and overnights stays in Gilroy. We are truly grateful for her dedication and will miss her warm and wonderful spirit.”

During Ms. Howard’s tenure, Visit Gilroy led the development and implementation of the city-wide wayfinding sign program and established the Gilroy Tourism Business Improvement District (GTBID). She also secured space for the original Gilroy Welcome Center at Gilroy Premium Outlets and then led the successful effort to have the center designated as one of 20 California Welcome Centers located across the state.

In 2020 and 2021, Jane Howard worked closely with Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Mark Turner to co-found the Gilroy Economic Development Partnership (GEDP).  The GEDP is comprised of eight economic development partners in the community who are dedicated to supporting the long-term economic recovery and growth of the local region. The group has adopted and brought forward to the Gilroy City Council three initiatives that will further enhance Gilroy’s status as a regional recreation destination.

Reflecting back on her 17 years of experience, Jane Howard commented, “What a joy it has been to serve this community. I have been blessed to work with so many amazing people over the years. I will miss the established relationships with individuals and organizations who are all dedicated to making Gilroy a great place to live, work and play. In addition, I will miss welcoming visitors from all over the world to our friendly community.”

The Visit Gilroy board of directors will begin the search for Ms. Howard’s replacement in early January 2022. The organization adopted a Succession Plan Outline for the Executive Director position in 2019 and will utilize this guiding document to fill the position.

Some COVID Rules Reinstated

Article by CalMatters

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

A little more than a year after the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in California, the state is bracing for yet another surge — and piling back on protections.

On Wednesday, the day California’s new indoor mask mandate went into effect, the state Department of Public Health quietly updated its online guidance to emphasize that the rules — which are set to last through Jan. 15 — apply to both public and private workplaces. Previously, the state had allowed most fully vaccinated workers to forgo masks.

Then the standards board of Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, voted Thursday to, among other things, eliminate some distinctions between vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Under the new temporary COVID workplace rules — which are slated to last from Jan. 14 to April 14 — workers exposed to someone who’s tested positive for the virus must quarantine for two weeks (though asymptomatic vaccinated employees will have the option to wear masks and social distance), and companies must make free COVID tests available to them at work.

Robert Moutrie, a California Chamber of Commerce policy advocate, told my colleague Grace Gedye: “We have serious concerns about the implications of those changes, both in a world where rapid COVID-19 tests are becoming less available and where excluding more workers from the workplace — who are showing no symptoms and have been vaccinated — is going to make operational difficulties for many employers in California who are already short-staffed and struggling with a labor shortage.”

But labor advocates say the changes will help protect workers: “Unfortunately, vaccination is not immunity, and vaccination doesn’t mean you can’t spread the disease,” Stephen Knight, executive director of Worksafe, told Grace.

Indeed, California health officials are bracing for what Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health officer, called a “deluge of omicron.” COVID hospitalizations have spiked 15% statewide in the last three weeks, from 3,439 patients on Nov. 23 to 3,971 on Wednesday, according to state data. And, as more COVID cases are confirmed across the state and uncertainty continues to swirl around the omicron variant, cancellations are pouring in.

Moved online: A massive January JPMorgan Chase health conference in San Francisco, which would have injected much-needed dollars into the city’s hard-hit hospitality sector.

Delayed indefinitely: Apple’s return to in-person work.

Pushed to Zoom: Stanford’s first two weeks of January classes — and instruction for the entire sixth-grade class at Travis Ranch School in Yorba Linda, which was recently hit with a COVID outbreak.

Cancelled: Thursday practice for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, which also shut down its facility amid reports that multiple players had tested positive.

Minimum Wage Hikes Effective January 1

Much like updating workplace postings and employee handbooks, understanding minimum wage increases has become an annual end-of-year task for employers. In California, there are two different statewide minimum wage rates depending upon employer size.

Currently for employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage is $14 per hour, while employers with 25 or fewer employees are subject to a $13 per hour minimum wage.

Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage rate for employers with 26 or more employees will increase to $15 per hour while the minimum wage rate for employers with 25 or fewer employees will increase to $14 per hour.

Click here for more information.

December 13, 2021

New Playgrounds for GUSD Kids!

Article written by Melanie Corona, Public Information Officer, Gilroy Unified School District

For students at three elementary schools in the Gilroy Unified School District, the start of the 2021-22 school year meant more than a return to the classroom and their campus.  At Rod Kelley, El Roble and Glen View elementary schools, students began the year with a brand new, completely redesigned, all-inclusive playground, and the fun continues!

Playgrounds at all three schools were partially funded by the County of Santa Clara’s All-Inclusive Grant program and were designed by Specified Play Equipment.  These new, state-of-the-art designs have replaced outdated playgrounds on each campus.

Each playground was designed to uniquely represent the individual campus through elements including color scheme, school mascot and the school community.  At Glen View, facts about eagles (their mascot) and nature are represented in informational panels throughout the playground.  At El Roble, a tree trunk is one of the main play structure supports, and leaf patterns were incorporated into shade supports and the play surfacing, paying tribute to the Mighty Oak mascot.  The Rod Kelley playground features the school’s knight logo and other castle components in its design.

Each playground is all-inclusive, meaning that students of all ages and abilities can play together, and each playground features musical elements like a giant xylophone and drum pillars.

Students at Glen View see their new playground as a reason to come to school, and the new structure has instilled a sense of pride in the neighborhood.  Principal Christine Vasquez is pleased to share that since the playground install, school vandalism and break-ins have not occurred on her campus because the students and community see the new structure as something to take care of.  Using extra recess as a reward for students has been a wonderful incentive to encourage good behavior choices.

The design process is underway for a new playground at Luigi Aprea, and is being funded by GUSD. Installation is scheduled for mid-June and it is anticipated that the playground will be open in August 2022 just in time for the start of the 2022-23 school year.

El Roble playground

Glen View playground

Rod Kelley playground

A Holiday Parade to Remember

Article provided by Nancy Maciel, Executive Marketing & Event Coordinator, Gilroy Downtown Business Association

Three to five thousand onlookers watched December Fourth’s Holiday Parade in Downtown Gilroy. Vendors had people buzzing through Fifth St. while anticipating the long-awaited parade last held in 2019 because of the pandemic. Attendees were able to indulge from sweet treats to shopping Holiday themed crafts. The weather was perfect, not too cold nor wet. Attendees drank hot chocolate and mulled apple cider from the GDBA Christmas-themed pop-up tents.

The pre-parade, Doggie dress-up contest winners were Ace, who stole the stage with his talent, Chica won the crowd with her friendliness, and fashionable Daisy clenched best dressed. Other pre-parade performances included Singer Whitney Brandt and dance teams from Studio Three, who rocked the stage. The Grinch crept his way to the selfie station for photos, and a long line of children and parents kept him busy. The parade participants brought smiles to the crowd as they wound their way along Monterey Street from 7th to 4th Streets.

Our Grand Marshal Mary Cortani, of Operation Freedom Paws, had the honor to ride in Santa’s magic sleigh that was pulled by the crew from GMH Today with Santa himself helping with the Tree Lighting Ceremony. This year’s Gilroy Star of Light recipient was our very own Council Member Carol Marques, who also emceed the parade with Jeff Orth of Integrated Financial Benefits and Tony Loaiza of Winjit, Inc.

The Gilroy Downtown Business Association board appreciates the sponsors, volunteers, parade participants, vendors, performers, and our community who made this final event of 2021 magical. Without them, the Holiday Parade would not have been the success it was.

We look forward to seeing everyone again in the many downtown events planned for 2022.


Holiday Shopping Sprees are Back!

Article written by Brannon Boswell, Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today

Physical stores remained a crucial component of Thanksgiving weekend shopping in 2021, as 61% of holiday weekend shoppers, approximately 114 million adults, spent money at physical stores from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to a Nov. 29 ICSC survey of 1,013 U.S. consumers.

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. adults, or some 200 million people shopped or spent money this Thanksgiving weekend on goods and services. Three-quarters of the consumers who shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday visited malls or other shopping centers during that period.

Fifty-one percent cited seeing or touching merchandise as a primary motivation for visiting stores, while 43% mentioned a general preference for in-store shopping and 35% noted an interest in browsing for gift ideas. Shoppers were also motivated to support small business owners; 52% spent with small or locally owned community businesses.

Sophisticated omnichannel operations paid off this Thanksgiving weekend; 72% who purchased items online and picked them up in-store spent additional money at that store or at the same shopping center. And more shoppers felt comfortable dining and enjoying entertainment than last year; 56% spent money on dining, personal services or entertainment over the weekend, an increase from 48% in 2020.

Goodbye Gas Powered Lawn Equipment

Article by CalMatters

Banning the manufacture of new gas-powered weed whackers, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and smaller chainsaws by 2024? Check. Requiring big rig trucks to undergo smog checks? Check. Those two first-in-the-nation requirements were unanimously approved Thursday by the California Air Resources Board — bringing with them an estimated $8 billion cost over more than 20 years, though they’re also expected to prevent 8,400 premature smog-linked deaths and result in health benefits worth more than $84 billion, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports. Still, small business gardeners and landscapers — who make up more than 99% of California’s landscaping companies — warned the new rules could cost them their livelihood.

Elizabeth Burns, president of Zone 24 Landscaping Inc. in Torrance“The cost to transition would be significant and probably kill my small business. … One other issue is the technology is not yet there for battery life and that’s super important.”

In other environmental news, much of the state remains locked in devastating drought, and thousands of Californians could soon see their water shut off. The state this week stopped accepting applications for its water debt relief program, and its ban on water shutoffs is slated to end Dec. 31. Although water agencies only applied for $303 million of the $985 million available, that money will cover as much as 90% of all outstanding water debt accrued during the height of the pandemic, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But some agencies didn’t apply for funds, putting the state’s most vulnerable residents at risk of shutoffs, advocates say.

December 6, 2021 

Survey Says…

Every year about this time, the Gilroy Chamber sends out a survey that helps us measure our efforts and effectiveness. You will see emails beginning tomorrow regarding this survey. The Chamber Board reviews the survey and determines where we need to focus more effort to help our businesses and community. We would ask that you take just a few minutes out of your day to respond to the survey which will help us leading into 2022.

What’s New With Business

Operation Freedom Paws was selected as one of 100 Love Stories winners this year by Petco Love. Now they have the chance to earn more lifesaving funds, but they need your help! Help them earn up to an additional $25,000 in the People’s Choice competition. Visit and vote for Operation Freedom Paws: Chau Pham’s story about his service dog Apollo by Dec. 15, noon CST.

Dion Bracco, the owner of Bracco’s Towing, was recognized by the California Tow Truck Association for his contributions to the tow truck industry. Dion was one of two individuals who was inducted into the Rich Chappel Industry Leaders Hall of Fame on September 17, 2021. The CTTA Board of Directors indicated that Dion is a towing professional who has spent his life making significant contributions to the industry with unblemished and outstanding character.

Trainerz Fitness is a new business in Gilroy! Gilbert and his wife Shannon started the business after Shannon was severely affected by post-partum weight retention. In order to help moms like Shannon, who have faced the same or similar challenges, they created Trainerz Fitness an in-person, on-demand fitness training platform that helps moms achieve their specific goals. 

Trainerz Fitness believes in all moms, and they’re here to build & inspire a community of moms to believe in themselves. Trainerz Fitness is an affordable, convenient, inviting, and personalized fitness option that makes it easier for moms to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Moms should have the ability to exercise whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, with any qualified trainer mom. Visit them at





Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiments

Provided By:  Visit Gilroy

As we approach the end of a tumultuous year in 2021, we can look forward with some optimism to 2022. “Hopeful”, “Excited”, “Fun”, and “More” are words that 1200 surveyed travelers used to describe travel in 2022 according to Destination Analysts, a travel and tourism market research firm based in San Francisco. Statistics further support this. Thirty-three percent of U.S. travelers plan to take more leisure trips in the next year while spending more money, with an average travel budget of $3,797. Domestic travel is also expected to increase at a rate of 42.8%, with California being fourth on the list of top domestic destinations.

Surveyed travelers also responded with a majority stating they do believe the pandemic will be here long-term, and it is still a concern when making travel plans. Those making travel plans are anxious about travel in the winter. Their greatest concerns are: (1) COVID-19 health concerns; (2) Increased gas prices; (3) Concern COVID-19 is not over; (4) Travel is expensive; and (5) Personal finances. Despite these worries, people are still extremely excited to travel in 2022. The average U.S. traveler plans to stay 2.4 nights in the next 3 months, with over 80% of people surveyed already having already made travel plans.

The groups ready to travel soon are, in order: the baby boomers and older, the Gen Xers, followed by the millennials. Over 70% of travelers are most interested in traveling to beaches and resorts, small towns and rural destinations/attractions, U.S. National Parks, and state/county and regional parks. This is great news for Gilroy located in the Central Coast rural region, which offers plenty of outdoor space, including beautiful county and state parks.

Finally, the trips trending among travelers are those they feel the safest taking, such as road trips, visiting relatives and friends, and participating in outdoor, non-team recreation. Travelers also feel fairly safe shopping, staying at hotels, and dining in restaurants. This is also good news for Gilroy. Staff at our California Welcome Center (CWC) are prepped and ready to share suggestions with visitors for places to shop, stay, dine, hike, bike ride or just enjoying the outdoor scenery. A reminder: CWC Gilroy is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm and is in Gilroy Premium Outlets near Forever 21. Also, be sure to check out the new blogs posted on for ideas on what to do in Gilroy year-round.

Drought Has Big Impacts on California Agriculture

Article by Dan Walters, CalMatters

As California experiences a second year of drought, with no end in sight, the effects on California’s largest-in-the-nation agricultural industry are profound and perhaps permanent.

State and federal water agencies have cut deliveries to some farmers to zero while others, thanks to water rights dating back more than a century, still have access to water.

Farmers are reacting to shortages in three, often intertwined ways — suspending cultivation of some fields or ripping up orchards for lack of water, drilling new wells to tap into diminishing aquifers, and buying water from those who have it.

All three have major economic impacts. They are driving some farmers, particularly small family operations, out of business altogether, accelerating the shift to large-scale agribusiness corporations with the financial resources to cope, changing the kinds of crops that can be profitably grown, and supercharging the semi-secretive market for buying and selling water.

By happenstance, all of these trends are occurring just as the state begins to implement a 2014 law aimed at limiting the amount of water that farmers can pump from underground aquifers.

A couple weeks ago, the state Department of Water Resources announced that it had rejected as inadequate the underground water management plans of four San Joaquin Valley agencies, including the huge Westlands Water District, indicating that the state will be aggressive in enforcing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

“We’re not going to accept a plan to do a plan,” Paul Gosselin, deputy director for the California Department of Water Resources, Sustainable Groundwater Management Office, told the Sacramento Bee. “We’re looking for very concrete, measurable changes to address these deficiencies.”

If anything, however, farmers are drilling more wells to cope with the current drought, the Bee also reported.

“I could work seven days a week if I wanted to,” Fresno County well driller Wesley Harmon told the Bee. “In my area, everybody’s pumping. You can’t blame the farmers. They’re trying to make a living, they’re trying to grow food for everybody.”

The drought is obviously one motive for drilling hundreds of new wells that must go ever-deeper as the water tables drop from overpumping, sometimes leading to the collapse of land above. But another is that farmers know a crackdown is coming and are doing what they can before it arrives.

The Public Policy Institute of California has estimated that full implementation of the groundwater sustainability act could force 750,000 acres of California farmland out of production, or “fallowed.”

The increased activity in California’s water markets, meanwhile, is beginning to draw attention. It’s sometimes more profitable for farmers to sell water than use it to grow crops, with prices surging to over $1,000 an acre-foot (about 326,000 gallons).

Environmentalists have complained that when Sacramento Valley rice growers received a major allotment of water from the federal government earlier this year, much of it was sold to water interests to the south while rice acreage continued to decline.

Recently, GV Wire, a San Joaquin Valley news site, published a lengthy article from its SJV Water subsidiary about multi-million-dollar water sales by major agribusiness operations that left small farmers in Kings County in the lurch and forced them, if they can, to drill wells.

There even have been hints that farmers have sold their water allotments for high prices and then sustained their own crops by drilling more wells that exacerbate groundwater overdrafting.

These are serious issues that will become even more intense if drought continues but unfortunately are receiving scant attention from federal and state officials.

Open a Book

The Gilroy Library is part of the Santa Clara County Library District and offers great resources for the residents of Gilroy.

The library’s hours are, Monday – Wednesday, 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm and Thursday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. allowing the public to browse the full collection, use public computers and printers, reserve an available meeting room, and utilize library resources and services.

Face coverings are required to enter the building regardless of vaccination status. If you are unable to get to the library, they have resources online as well.

Online Library

Online Library 24/7

Events at the Gilroy Library


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