Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Business Focus- February 2022

February 28, 2022

Spice of Life Awards Celebration Set for March 26

The annual Spice of Life Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. This year’s red carpet premiere event will be held at the CineLux Theaters in Gilroy. The themed event, “There’s No Place Like Home,” will celebrate and recognize the achievements of the following award recipients:

  • Man of the Year – Tom Cline
  • Woman of the Year – Kathleen Rose
  • Large Business of the Year – CordeValle
  • Small Business of the Year – The Neon Exchange
  • Educator of the Year – Nicky Austin
  • Volunteer of the Year – Andrea Nicolette 
  • Non-Profit of the Year – One Giving Tree
  • Young Professional of the Year (2)

             – Leo Khooshabeh

              – Andrew Briggs 

  • Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award – Alyssa E. Gonzalez 

The cost to attend the event is $75 per person. Cost includes food, wine, entertainment, entrance into the premiere, and a movie following the event. To reserve your seat, click here.

Conversation and Coffee with Mayor Marie Blankley

The community is invited to join Mayor Marie Blankley, Communication and Engagement Manager Rachelle Bedell, and City Administrator Jimmy Forbis for Conversation and Coffee on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at 9:30 AM in Council Chambers located at 7351 Rosanna Street. The topic will be Communication and Engagement: Ways to Get Involved in Local Government. County masking requirements will be observed. All are welcome to attend.

Conversation and Coffee | Communication and Engagement: Ways to Get Involved in Local Government

Date: March 5, 2022
Time: 9:30 AM
Location: Council Chambers at Gilroy City Hall located at 7351 Rosanna Avenue

California Agriculture Takes $1.2-Billion Hit During Drought, Losing 8,700 Farm Jobs, Researchers Find

By Ian James, Staff Writer, LA Times

Severe drought last year caused the California agriculture industry to shrink by 8,745 jobs and shoulder $1.2 billion in direct costs as water cutbacks forced growers to fallow farmland and pump more groundwater from wells, according to new research.

In a report prepared for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, researchers calculated that reduced water deliveries resulted in 395,000 acres of cropland left dry and unplanted — an area larger than Los Angeles. In estimating the costs, they factored in losses in crop revenue and higher costs for pumping more groundwater.

California’s agriculture industry is the largest in the country, averaging $50 billion in annual revenue and employing more than 400,000 people. The researchers’ analysis shows that the past year of drought had significant economic impacts, and these costs are likely to accumulate as climate change intensifies drought, and as California implements regulations to curb the chronic overpumping of groundwater.

The report, part of a larger three-year study, did not examine how the elimination of some full-time and part-time jobs are playing out for farmworkers. The authors said some workers have turned to taking other jobs, driving longer distances or moving.

“These farmworkers belong to the lowest-income group in the state, particularly in the Central Valley,” said Josué Medellín-Azuara, a water resources economist and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Merced. “So when climate hits, these communities are hit harder.”

Medellín-Azuara and colleagues from UC Merced, UC Davis and the Public Policy Institute of California estimated changes in the acreage of irrigated farmlands last year as compared to 2018. They surveyed irrigation districts, analyzed water data and reviewed satellite data to track changes in croplands.

In addition to considering the direct effects on farming businesses, the researchers estimated the “spillover effects” in the broader economy and found that analysis pushed the total impacts to more than 14,600 lost jobs, both full-time and part-time, and $1.7 billion in gross revenue losses.

The state is now entering a third year of drought. Many reservoirs remain at low levels and the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada stands at 67% of average for this time of year. Federal water managers announced this week that many farmers should prepare to receive no water from the Central Valley Project.

If the state doesn’t get more precipitation in March, Medellín-Azuara said, “we are likely to see more severe cutbacks from water agencies to agriculture this year, and then the impacts can intensify.”

The past year was one of the driest and hottest on record in California, and comes during a larger 22-year megadrought in the West that research shows is being worsened by global warming.

The researchers found the economic effects on California agriculture last year were comparable to the impacts in 2014, in the middle of the last major drought, which ended in 2016.

But they also found that this time the drought has been more severe in the Sacramento Valley and North Coast regions, leading to an increase in dry farmlands and revenue losses in those areas.

For example, the Russian River Basin has suffered from drier conditions over the past year, Medellín-Azuara said, “so the map of the dry areas changed a little bit.”

His team found that the croplands left fallow included rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, cotton fields in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as farmlands that had been producing grains and other field crops.

These shifts are occurring alongside other long-term changes in crops driven by the global market and other factors. Over the past decade, the acreage planted with wheat, cotton and alfalfa has decreased, while new orchards with high-value pistachios and almonds have expanded across vast stretches of farmland.

The report’s authors cited statistics showing milk remained the state’s top agricultural commodity in 2020, followed by almonds and grapes.

The research shows a substantial economic toll on agriculture, especially in the Central Valley, where the economy depends heavily on farming, said Alvar Escriva-Bou, a coauthor and senior research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California.

“It’s a lot of money, a lot of jobs,” Escriva-Bou said.

The study focused on revenue losses and pumping costs but didn’t estimate profits in the agriculture industry.

Farming operations in the Central Valley have long turned to pumping more groundwater during droughts, and water levels have been dropping for decades. State lawmakers in 2014 passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which established a framework for managing groundwater and required local agencies to develop plans to eliminate problems of chronic overpumping.

Local groundwater agencies have been developing plans to begin implementing the law between now and 2040, with state officials overseeing the process and reviewing plans.

In the meantime, declining water levels in farming areas have continued to leave more rural homeowners, including many farmworkers, struggling with dry wells. The state received reports of 975 household wells that ran dry in 2021, many in farming areas in the Central Valley.

The law is expected to gradually bring limits on groundwater pumping that will reduce the strains on depleted aquifers, and these limits will eventually force growers to leave dry a portion of the farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Escriva-Bou and other researchers have estimated that at least 500,000 acres of farmland will probably have to stop being irrigated by 2040 to meet groundwater sustainability goals.

He and colleague Ellen Hanak have presented a list of proposals for improving implementation of the groundwater law. Their recommendations include accelerating “demand management,” or limits on pumping, while also planning how to convert some farmlands to other uses, such as solar farms and habitat restoration areas — a direction state officials have supported by budgeting $50 million for a land “repurposing” program.

Steps to reduce groundwater pumping should speed up in areas where water levels are falling, Escriva-Bou said.

“We need to accelerate that to be more resilient. Because if not, we are more vulnerable to droughts like this one,” Escriva-Bou said. At the same time, he said, “we have to think about alternative means of income for farmers and for communities.”

According to state data, agriculture uses nearly 80% of the water that is diverted and pumped for human use in an average year in California.

Medellín-Azuara and other researchers have written that they expect California agriculture will continue to use less water in the long term because of the groundwater law and other factors including expanding development. They’ve also said they expect the state’s agriculture industry will continue to make efficiency improvements and benefit from growing demand for its specialty crops.

“Agriculture in California is very resilient and innovative,” Medellín-Azuara said. “Overall, we are weathering the drought and adapting to future droughts as well.”

Would You Like an Order of Fries With That?

Opinion by John Kabateck – California state director, National Federation of Independent Business

In the entrepreneurial world, California is a hub of innovation. The state is home to roughly four million small businesses which employ more than seven million workers.

Out of the Golden State, franchise businesses from Meineke Car Centers to Kiddie Academy have been conceived and grown into prosperous companies employing thousands and helping countless entrepreneurs achieve success. Not the least of these entrepreneurs are those who serve local communities up and down the state in the franchise restaurant community.

Today, these independent franchise restaurant businesses are under attack. A revived bill, AB 257 (Holden) otherwise known as the Fast Recovery Act, seeks to diminish the role of these small business operators to state-managed functionaries.

The bill will impact the ability of operators and managers to run the business.

While the bill has many flaws, its impact on individuals who strive to run their own business as a franchisee is especially egregious. The Fast Recovery Act needs to be rejected by the California State Senate. Here are five key reasons:

First, the bill will impact the ability for operators and managers to work with employees. In the franchise model, it is imperative the franchise owner builds a winning team. However, under AB 257 the franchise operators will be relegated to a subordinate role under the authority of the franchisor and a newly formed, appointed statewide committee of 11 commissioners.

What’s more, cities with more than 200,000 residents will be subject to a redundant local committee with similar jurisdiction. Under this structure, franchisees merely serve as an ineffectual go-between for the franchise and the councils while maintaining almost all the business risks. Team building and skills development are little more than an afterthought under AB 257.

Second, the bill will impact the ability of operators and managers to run the business. The political appointed councils will have unprecedented authority to draft and enact workplace rules, free of meaningful oversight by legislators or the governor. Even mundane decisions like which paper towels and cleaning supplies to order are subject to the whims of the appointed committees.

Operators who set the course for the franchise and managers who run day-to-day operations will effectively become obey-following autocrats in their own business.

AB 257 will exact harm on a large segment of restaurant owners including minority and women entrepreneurs

Third, the bill will discourage franchises from being part of the community. Restaurants are an anchor in the community supporting many local civic groups and sports teams. Restaurant owners are highly involved in community events and financially support many non-profit organizations. With less authority over daily operations, franchise owners will be less likely, even discouraged, from participating in the local community.

Fourth, among the biggest risks associated with the bill is the possibility that it will discourage business owners from starting new franchise concepts. Franchises are incubators for other franchises.

In a study by industry group FRANdata of 1,600 new franchise concepts that started over five years, 25% of the founders of these businesses had previously worked in franchising either as a franchisee, employees of franchisees or employees of franchisors.  If AB 257 were to become law, entrepreneurs with a franchise concept would be disincentivized from bringing the franchise forward.

Fifth, AB 257 will exact harm on a large segment of restaurant owners including minority and women entrepreneurs who seek to employ others and earn a living in the restaurant community. Sixty percent of California restaurants are owned by people of color. Restaurant franchises are also well known for providing opportunities to women, the LGBTQ+ community, and new immigrant business owners. This legislation would reverse decades of progress made by minority small business owners who have achieved success in the franchise model.

Overall, AB 257 unfairly targets one type of business and creates a model that will be applied to other California businesses. Franchise owners or not, small businesses are watching this bill with the expectation, if it passes, more California regulation on their own business will soon follow.

In the aftermath of COVID, neighborhood businesses cannot endure more prolonged hardship. For these reasons, AB 257 the Fast Recovery Act should be rejected when it comes before the California Senate.

February 22, 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

Christopher  Ranch

Emsee Properties

Bank of the West

Johnson & Simoni

Best Western Plus Forest Park Inn

Intero Real Estate Services, Mary Squier

Starritt Realtors,  Susan Jacobsen

20 Years & over

Gilroy Foundation

Marx Towing, Inc.

Heinzen LLC

First Baptist Church of Gilroy

Redman’s Automotive

Santa Clara County Farm Bureau

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #6309

Grass Farms Garden Accents

10 Years & over

Coldwell Banker, Diane Baty

COSTCO Wholesale-Gilroy

Garlic City Casino

Gilroy Chevrolet Cadillac

Gilroy Fire Fighters Association, Local 2805

Great West Equipment, Inc.

McCarthy Ranch

Merry Maids

Old Republic Title Insurance

Operation Freedom Paws

SC Fuels

Suburban Propane

The Barn at Hoey Ranch

Wineries of Santa Clara Valley

5 Years and over

Autoworks of Gilroy

Cal Silk Screen Printing

Christine K. Wheeler, Realtor

Cline Glass Contractors

Coastal Dermatology & Aesthetics

Coldwell Banker, Morgan Hill

CordeValle

Gilroy Presbyterian Church

Gilroy Weight Loss

Grocery Outlet of Gilroy

Johnny’s Custom Auto Body

Lovers Outlet

Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Spectrum Small Business Advisors LLC

A Fond Farewell to Gracie

Article by Erik Chaloub, Gilroy Dispatch

Gracie Garcia was a world traveler, who has floated down a river in India while looking up at the stars in a houseboat, explored the Hermitage Museum in a Russian palace, and partaken in countless other adventures.

She not only took in the surroundings, but she always made sure to take a piece back with her, of all shapes and sizes. The lifetime collector was drawn to the beauty she found in paintings, furniture and anything else that caught her eye.

Her next big adventure was scheduled for June, when she was set to travel to Budapest. But the Hungarian city will not have the opportunity to welcome her.

Garcia, the owner of Gilroy Antiques for more than 30 years and a downtown icon, died on Feb. 10 following a stroke she suffered in December. She was 82.

Tika Burns, one of Garcia’s four children, said her mother was passionate about antiques for as long as anyone can remember. She rejected most newly made things, son David Garcia said, possibly because they could not match the beauty and quality of something that has been around for generations.

“I don’t think in our entire life she ever went into a new furniture store,” he said. “She always bought beautiful used stuff.”

Every international trip would result in a new item, or multiple things, for her collection.

“The world is her marketplace,” David said.

Garcia was born in San Jose in 1939, growing up in Campbell and graduating from Campbell High School.

The family lived in San Jose until moving to Morgan Hill in 1969, where Garcia pursued her other love of animals. They moved to a home on Fifth Street in Gilroy in 1977, where Garcia lived up until her passing.

While living in Gilroy, Garcia commuted to manage the Main Street Exchange in Los Gatos. But after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged the building, Garcia began floating around the idea of opening her own store, preferably closer to home.

It was about this time that the hardware store at 7445 Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy had closed up shop, leaving the building available. Garcia purchased the building, and Gilroy Antiques opened its doors.

Countless people have walked through the doors to view and purchase Garcia’s eclectic displays of furniture, kitchenware, artwork, jewelry and any type of collectible imaginable, or just to chat with the proprietor herself. She was known to make friends with anyone who stepped foot into Gilroy Antiques, and she often invited people to view the large apartment upstairs that would make any collector swoon.

Most of her store’s merchandise was acquired through private parties, according to a previous Dispatch article, where Garcia described herself as a collector first and dealer second. Her taste in goods definitely leaned toward the Victorian era, her children said.

“I love that store. It’s like a cocktail party without the cocktails,” Garcia said in a 2015 interview with the Dispatch. “I meet people everyday of my life. I’m by myself and I’m never lonesome, because I get so much fulfillment in the store.”

Living life on her terms

Veteran downtown retailer Dave Peoples said he knew Garcia long before she opened Gilroy Antiques, as the two met thanks to their combined love of antiques.

Peoples said Garcia was a “wealth of information” who was the go-to person for anyone trying to identify a certain item. He added that Garcia was always excited to see her friends, and was quick to land a kiss, with Peoples joking that he always had to “wipe the lipstick off my cheek” before returning home to his wife.

“There’s no question that Gracie was her own person,” he said. “Gracie was just one of those unique people that when you met her, you were friends.”

The two may not have seen eye-to-eye on certain things, and “there might have been a year when we didn’t talk,” Peoples recalled, but their friendship remained strong for more than four decades.

“She had friends all over the world,” he said. “Wherever Gracie went, she had friends.”

Peoples said he never got the chance to drop off bread and jam for Garcia to continue the longtime Christmas tradition this past December, as her store was closed when he stopped by, not knowing that she had the stroke just days before.

He added he still has that bread with her name on it in his refrigerator.

“She was a wonderful person,” he said. “We are really going to miss her.”

Linda Ashford of Ashford’s Heirlooms said she’s known Garcia for about 30 years, having met her at a business mixer, commenting on her “huge fur coat.”

Ashford said Garcia warned her that the antiques business was not something you pursued if you wanted to make money, but rather, you had a passion for beautiful things. It’s advice that Ashford has taken to heart.

She said Garcia would always stop by the store to chat, putting her “Be back in 20 minutes” sign on Gilroy Antiques.

“She wouldn’t hesitate to lock the door up and come down to visit,” Ashford said. “She would always shop and she would always find something beautiful. She just loved beautiful things.”

Since the 1990s, Kim Dorris Rossi of Leedo Art and Framing has framed numerous paintings and “little treasures” for Garcia.

The two became fast friends.

“All you have to do is spend five minutes with her,” Rossi said. “I realized I want to be just like her when I grow up. She lived life on her own terms. She told you how it was, and you got to love a person for that. The honesty is paramount.”

Rossi said she last saw Garcia as she was walking to Old City Hall for dinner. The two hugged, with Garcia telling Rossi, “I love you more.”

“You know, we’ve got the memories, we got the stories, those smiles, those red lips, that blonde hair,” she said. “She was beautiful inside and out.”

A void in the family

The future of Gilroy Antiques remains uncertain. But passersby can still get a feel for Garcia’s taste in collectibles as well as her humor, as evidenced by a sign outside that notifies those who do not wear a mask inside the store must have their temperature taken, “and we only have rectal thermometers.”

Planning is underway for a celebration of life.

“She was the most wonderful mom, and I’m going to miss her dearly,” David Garcia said.

Burns said her mother was very happy with her life, and her caring personality always wanted to see others lead a great life.

“She just loved her life and loved what she did,” she said, adding that she would call her mother nearly every morning as Garcia was doing her crossword puzzle. “She loved everybody she met. Everyone she knew in Gilroy will tell you they felt very close to mom after meeting her.”

The Excitement is Building

Article Submitted by Nancy Maciel, Gilroy Downtown Business Association

2022 is off to a great start; The pandemic appears to be turning into an endemic; masks are coming off in most parts of the State and Country. 

Over the last couple of years, downtown lost few businesses; most were to retirement or downsizing—only a few due to the pandemic. The 25 unreinforced masonry buildings, that held up downtown progress for the past 15 years, are fully retrofitted. Thankfully, owners invested in their historic buildings rather than demolishing them. Leasing interest is strong, mirroring a significant national business startups trend reported by the IRS. New tenants locating downtown will be a welcome addition; watch for those announcements soon. 

There are many fantastic opportunities on the horizon. For example, the City of Gilroy announced that they would begin bidding on the new parking lot between 6th and 7th on Eigleberry. The new parking lot will ensure that there will be adequate parking for existing and new businesses. The Gourmet Alley activation that we have spearheaded continues to evolve. The City should hear about the results of multi-million dollar grants to underground utilities and improve infrastructure, including lighting, soon. 

We will be bringing back traditional events, like the Art and Wine Stroll, the Summer Concert Series, Downtown Live, the fall Beer Crawl, and Holiday Parade, among others. We are also planning new events, so watch for those announcements. 

Our volunteer Board welcomed four new members at the end of 2021. They are already rolling up their sleeves and taking on projects. We continue to seek volunteers for events, our Board, and standing subcommittees. If you would like to help return downtown Gilroy to being the heart of our community, we would love to hear your ideas or have you participate in some way. Contact Nancy Maciel at 408-842-005 or by email at nancy@downtowngilroy.com. 

Gilroy Town Hall: A Virtual Q&A with City Administrator Jimmy Forbis

Join City Administrator Jimmy Forbis on Thursday, February 24, at 6:00 PM for a Virtual Town Hall.

During the Town Hall community members will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding any City-related topic. Questions will not be limited to but may include the Gilroy Sports Park Project, Santa Teresa Fire Station, goals for 2022, or Gilroy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spanish translation will be available.

What: Gilroy Town Hall: A Virtual Q&A with City Administrator Jimmy Forbis
When: Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM

Community members can join the Virtual Town Hall through the following Zoom link:
Zoom Link: https://rebrand.ly/Gilroy0224
Or by Phone: +1 669 900 6833
Webinar ID: 815 8175 0459
Passcode: 501079

California Adopts Nation’s First Endemic Virus Policy

Article by Don Thompson, AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California became the first state to formally shift to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Thursday of a plan that emphasizes prevention and quick reaction to outbreaks over mandated masking and business shutdowns.

The milestone, nearly two years in the making, envisions a return to a more normal existence with the help of a variety of initiatives and billions in new spending to more quickly spot surges or variants, add health care workers, stockpile tests and push back against false claims and other misinformation.

“We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus,” he said during a news conference from a state warehouse brimming with pandemic supplies in Fontana, east of Los Angeles.

The first-term Democrat, who last year survived a recall election driven by critics of his governance during the pandemic, promised the state’s nearly 40 million residents that as the omicron surge fades, “we’re going to keep them safe and we’re going to stay on top of this.”

A disease reaches the endemic stage when the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. But there will be no definitive turn of the switch, the Democratic governor said, unlike the case with Wednesday’s lifting of the state’s indoor masking requirements or an announcement coming Feb. 28 of when precisely schoolchildren can stop wearing face coverings.
And there will be no immediate lifting of the dozens of remaining executive emergency orders that have helped run the state since Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide stay-home order in March 2020.

“This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line,” Newsom said.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and with omicron fading in many parts of the world some countries have begun planning for the endemic stage. But no state has taken the step Newsom did and offered a detailed forward-looking plan.

Republicans have been frequent critics of Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus and were quick to disparage his latest effort. State GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson called it “an extra-large helping of word salad” and renewed the call to “follow the lead of other blue states and end his state of emergency or lift his school mask mandate.”

Newsom’s plan sets specific goals, such as stockpiling 75 million masks, establishing the infrastructure to provide up to 200,000 vaccinations and 500,000 tests a day in the event of an outbreak, and adding 3,000 medical workers within three weeks in surge areas.

Newsom’s administration came up with a shorthand acronym to capsulize key elements of its new approach: SMARTER. The letters stand for Shots, Masks, Awareness, Readiness, Testing, Education and Rx, a reference to improving treatments for COVID-19.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of Southern California, said while some may argue these should have come sooner, he believes “the timing is right on.”

“Surveillance, testing, vaccination and treatment make the context very different and make it appropriate to shift our response from a pandemic response of trying to do everything possible, to a more rational response to try to implement things that we have strong evidence that work,” Klausner said.

The plan includes increased monitoring of virus remnants in wastewater to watch for the first signs of a surge. Masks won’t be required but will be encouraged in many settings.

If a higher level of the virus is detected, health officials will determine if it is a new variant. If so, state and federal officials have a goal to within 30 days determine if it responds to existing tests, treatments and immunities from vaccines or prior infections.

California’s health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said one of the goals is to avoid business closures and other far-reaching mandates. However, he said the state’s requirement that schoolchildren be vaccinated against coronavirus by fall remains in effect.

The plan includes new education, including “myth-buster videos” to fight misinformation and disinformation and help interpret ever-evolving precautions for a confused public whiplashed by safeguards that seemingly shift by the day and vary across county lines.
In coordination with the federal government, it calls for a first-in-the-nation study of the pandemic’s direct and indirect impacts long-term on both people and communities.

All this will cost billions, much of it already outlined in the pandemic response package Newsom sought as part of his budget last month. That includes $1.9 million that lawmakers already approved to boost staffing at hospitals and increase coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution, as well as existing money and anticipated federal funds.

His proposed budget also includes $1.7 billion to beef up the state’s health care workforce, with more investment in increased laboratory testing capacity, data collection and outbreak investigation.

Newsom, who has faced criticism for sometimes failing to follow his own rules, defended keeping in place some of his executive emergency orders, which he said most recently have allowed the state to quickly bring in temporary medical workers and to quickly distribute more than 13 million home test kits to schools.

Those orders have dwindled from 561 to fewer than 100 in recent months, he said, and his administration is working with legislative leaders to eventually make them unnecessary.

February 14, 2022

$100,000 in Scholarships Available for High School Students

Amazon Web Services InCommunities is excited to offer $2,500 renewable scholarships to eligible high school seniors in your community who plan to pursue a STEM-related education.

Applications are now open to students until March 29. 2022.  The AWS InCommunities Scholarship Program offers scholarships to high school seniors who plan to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects at higher education institutions in designated districts of California, Oregon, Ohio, and Virginia, where the company has data center operations.

Share this great scholarship opportunity with your students.

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be a current, public, private or home-schooled high school senior attending school in one of the following designated areas:
    • California: Alameda County, San Francisco County, Santa Clara County
    • Ohio: City of Dublin, City of Hilliard, City of Johnstown, City of New Albany, City of Plain City, Fairbanks Local School District, Marysville School District, North Union Local School District
    • Oregon: Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (“CTUIR”) & Nixyaawii School, Morrow County, Umatilla County
    • Virginia: City of Manassas, Culpepper County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County
  • Plan to enroll in full-time or part-time undergraduate study at an accredited non-profit public or private two-year or four-year college, university or vocational technical school for the entire upcoming academic year.
  • Plan to major in an eligible “STEM” field of study (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

Again, the deadline to apply is March 29, 2022.

For more details and to apply, visit https://learnmore.scholarsapply.org/awsincommunities today!

Flyer for Amazon Web Services Scholaraships. For more information visit https://learnmore.scholarsapply.org/awsincommunities/.

COVID Supplemental Sick Leave Signed Into Law – Retroactive

By Matthew J. Roberts, CalChamber

The California Legislature recently proposed new COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) for most of 2022. On February 7, the proposal passed the legislature and on February 9, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law — and it becomes effective on February 19, 2022.

The February 19 date is important as it sets deadlines for when employers must not only comply with providing the leave, but display a poster about the law and include certain information on employee paystubs.

The new law requires the Labor Commissioner’s office to create and provide access to the poster no later than February 16, which means employers should regularly check the Labor Commissioner’s website to obtain the poster. Once the poster is available, employers must post it in a conspicuous location at each worksite and provide it to employees working remotely. Employers are expressly authorized to provide the poster via email to their remote workforce.

Employers should also start working with payroll providers now to ensure that a separate line item on employees’ wage statements reflects the amount of COVID-19 SPSL the employee has used to date. If an employee has not yet used any, the wage statement will reflect that zero hours have been used. The wage statement requirement takes effect for the first full pay period after February 19.

Although the law’s effective date is February 19, it contains a retroactivity provision similar to last year’s COVID-19 SPSL. This means that, upon employee’s request, an employer should either provide SPSL to an employee who took unpaid time off for qualifying reasons starting January 1, 2022, or if the employee used a different paid time off bank — such as vacation or regular paid sick leave — the employer should credit those hours back to the appropriate bank and deduct from the employee’s SPSL bank.

GECA Senior named 2022 Cooke College Scholarship semifinalist

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

Congratulations to GECA senior, Marisol Cruz Velasco, who has been named a 2022 Cooke College Scholarship semifinalist by The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $230 million in scholarships to more than 2,930 students  The Foundation has also provided $119.5 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

411 high school seniors were selected from over 5,300 applicants for this honor. From the group of semifinalists, approximately 60 finalists will be awarded the scholarship. This highly selective scholarship provides high-achieving students with financial need up to $55,000 annually for four years of college, to enable them to attend a top college or university.  Cooke College Scholars are selected based on exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership.  After graduation, Marisol hopes to attend a 4-year university where and major in Finance or Business Management.  Her dream is to operate a karaoke place, called Soul Center, so that families can spend time with their loved ones. While in college, she plans to enhance her professional skills, leadership abilities, and international perspective by doing work-study, studying abroad in Japan or Korea, and successfully completing an internship. She has applied to USC, UCLA, Claremont McKenna College, and Santa Clara University. 

Marisol works part-time as a self-employed cleaner to save money for college expenses, while taking calculus, statistics, and accounting. She is trilingual, and working on mastering a fourth language: Korean.  She is a Morgan Stanley Scholar, and the Spanish translator for GECA’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association meetings. She volunteers for QuaranTeen Pals and is a Gilroy Innovator for Community Solutions.  The 2022 Cooke College Scholars will be announced in April.

The Science of Retail Attraction

Although Gilroy is a retail destination within our region, we are frequently asked why certain retailers are not interested in Gilroy as a business location. The process to attract retailers has, over the past decade, morphed into an exact science that requires a City to have not only a sufficient number of “rooftops” and appropriate sites, but must also meet the requirements of detailed market analysis.  The information considered by retailers in making a location decision is now driven by what consultants in this industry refer to as “psychographics”.

Utilizing data on demographic make-up and shopping habits of residents within a market area, consultants are able to segment certain groups based on such things as ethnicity, household income, age, and sales data for the region.  The end result provides the ED organization with a match of possible retailers that would be interested in your community as a business location.  Added to that, we utilize market intelligence from the retail industry that includes information on companies that are seeking locations to expand in various states throughout the nation.

The retail analysis provided by consulting companies such as Buxton and others, helps communities identify who their consumers are within a retail market area and match potential retailers for attraction efforts.  For example, consider we have a couple of male consumers -let’s call them Bob and Joe.  The two men have the same income, sex, age, live in the same area, and are both married with two children.  If a retailer such as Bass Pro Shops evaluated them based solely on the demographic data, they might consider both of them a desirable customer.  However, in reality Bob owns a boat and enjoys fishing and hunting.  The only thing Joe likes about fish is eating them.  Bob would drive 45 minutes to shop at a Bass Pro Shop; Joe wouldn’t drive 15 minutes to shop there.  Targeting consumers like Joe is a wasted effort for this company.

Advances in technology and methods of research allow companies and ED organizations to better identify customers, not people.  We can now utilize information that tells us which households eat at Burger King, shop at Home Depot, read the Gilroy Dispatch . . . you name it.  According to the Buxton methodology, every U.S. household can be classified into one of 66 distinct segments based on that household’s lifestyle and spending habits.  Buxton uses names to categorize these dominant segments, such as the “Upward Bound”, the “White Picket Fences”, and the “Park Bench Seniors”.

While these studies can be beneficial in attracting retail to a community, they can be costly to complete.  The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development currently relies on demographic data, sales tax revenue reports from the City, and consumer spending reports from other data sources.  While we know we are a sales tax capture community within the region with leakage in only a couple of areas, identification of niche markets and unmet consumer demand will require additional analysis.

The Gilroy Chamber encourages you to shop local and support our Gilroy business community.  Every dollar you spend in Gilroy also helps the City provide essential services, infrastructure improvements, park maintenance, programs for youth, and a better quality of life for all residents.

Small-Business Owners Want Real End to Retail Theft

Annual survey also found definite opinions on business personal property taxes, EVs

Article by the National Federation of Independent Businesses

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 10, 2022—It’s time to put a real end to retail theft, one result from a survey of California small-business owners released today loudly says.

As it does every year, NFIB, the nation’s and California’s leading small-business association, polls its members on state and federal issues affecting their right to own, operate, and grow their businesses. Results from the annual polls help center NFIB’s lobbying positions in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C.

“More than 75% of our small-business-owning membership want something seriously done about retail theft,” said John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “That includes returning the dollar threshold on felony theft to its pre-Proposition 47 level. It’s time legislators back up their tough-on-crime poses with real action. Eliminating the business personal property tax on small businesses would end the inherent unfairness of a levy that is a form of double taxation (a sales tax was already paid on the acquired business personal property), and it must be paid whether a profit was made or not. It also contributes a negligible, if nothing at all, amount of revenue to local governments.”

This year’s NFIB State Member Ballot asked four questions:

Should the Legislature pass a law lowering the dollar threshold for a felony charge for theft back down to its prior $450 from the $950 that Proposition 47 boosted it to in 2014?
Yes 76%
No 20%
Und. 4%

Should California impose new taxes, assessments, or fees on motorists, shipping, or commercial and residential energy consumption to pay for infrastructure necessary to accommodate electric vehicles?
Yes 5%
No 91%
Und. 4%

Should California index unemployment benefits to economic conditions?
Yes 31%
No 44%
Und. 25%

Should California exempt certain small businesses from owing the business personal property tax?
Yes 73%
No 15%
Und. 12%

February 7, 2022

Grateful, Proud, and Honored

By Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

As the CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, I am grateful, proud, and honored. I’m grateful to the Chamber Board for their understanding and approval of ongoing education for the Chamber staff.

We just returned from Western Association of Chamber Executive’s (W.A.C.E.) annual industry conference in Glendale, AZ, where more than 300 Chamber professionals met to exchange ideas, learn industry insights, and gain a better understanding of best practices within the Chamber world to better serve our members and communities

As a Board member of W.A.C.E. since 2017 and an instructor for W.A.C.E.’s Academy Program since 2018, I’m proud of the Gilroy Chamber staff for their participation in the training, education, and leadership development W.A.C.E. has to offer.

Candace Van Sambeek participated in the graduation ceremony as she has now completed her Academy training, W.A.C.E.’s education program, which is deemed the number one training program in the West. Started in 2003, Academy is a three-day (three-year) high quality summer program on chamber management “essentials” geared for today’s chamber executives and professional staff. It has become the leading training program totally devoted to chamber professional in the West.

Victoria Valencia was named to the Emerging Leader’s Council. The Council was formed to identify and recognize future leaders (all under 40) in W.A.C.E. and the chamber of commerce industry. Members of the Council will be asked to provide program feedback and ideas for the good of W.A.C.E. and will serve as advisors to the association’s Board and President.

Jude Miranda participated in general sessions and workshops throughout the 3-day conference gathering notes and information which will help the Gilroy Chamber continue to advance our mission of making Gilroy the best place to live, work, and play.

I had the honor of being named one of the conference’s Ted Talk presenters where I spoke to the conference’s 300 attendees about potential future disruptive forces to our economy and opportunities that lie ahead. I challenged W.A.C.E.’s leadership to consider convening industry leaders and Chamber professionals to discuss what might cause future economic disruptions and how Chambers of Commerce can be better prepared to deal with those disruptions and assist local businesses when a crisis strikes.

Dr. Kathleen A. Rose – Woman of the Year

Dr. Rose applied to Gavilan College in 2008 for the position of Vice President of Instruction, due to a career progression in higher education that spanned 25 years and included positions in administration and as a faculty member. During her years at Gavilan, she appreciated the leadership opportunities available to serve students throughout the district and support the growth of new academic programs. The thought of becoming the Superintendent/President was not at the forefront until the opportunity to apply presented itself. Dr. Rose was proud to become the 7th Superintendent/President and the second woman to serve the district.

Dr. Rose loves the community spirit that is a natural element of Gilroy. She has observed that Gilroy is a community that commits to important initiatives, prioritizes support services for those in need, and demonstrates an ethos of care that impacts all who work and live in the community.

There have been numerous accomplishments during Dr. Rose’s tenure. She was instrumental in supporting many instructional programs and several state and federal grants to support major initiatives. She supported several facility projects, including the solar canopies and the modernization of the athletic complex. Business and industry partnerships were strengthened throughout the district during Dr. Rose’s presidency. Most notably, Dr. Rose led the process that resulted in the latest bond of 248M that will result in the new San Benito County Campus and several projects on the Gilroy Campus. Gavilan College celebrated its centennial under Dr. Rose’s leadership, that included a historic gala and other events throughout the district. Finally, Dr. Rose has led the college through the many challenges of the pandemic, providing basic needs to students with the help of dedicated staff and faculty.

Dr. Rose is very optimistic about the future of Gavilan College. New facilities In Hollister and Gilroy will welcome students to the post-pandemic world with innovative technology, internships, and cutting-edge instructional programs. The communities Gavilan serves will continue to benefit from a more educated and diverse workforce, and many industry partnerships will deepen, The Gavilan Promise will provide opportunities for all students to succeed and reach educational goals. Dr. Rose will be retiring in June 2022 but looks forward to witnessing these changes as the district moves forward in the next 10-20 years.

Community Service is a core value of community colleges across the state, and Gavilan College is no exception. Dr. Rose is proud of the tradition of service learning, volunteerism and giving which has an impressive history at the college. Dr, Rose feels strongly that the students, professional support staff, administration and faculty will continue to seek ways to give back to the communities within the district, knowing the benefits of public service is the practice of a lifetime.

Tom Cline - Man of the Year

Tom Cline, immediate past president (2020-2021) of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, was named 2021 Spice of Life Man of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. The Man of the Year award goes to an individual who has a history of unselfish service to the community, contributing to Gilroy’s welfare and betterment.

When told of this honor, Cline responded in his usual self-deprecating manner.

“I was surprised because I like doing things under the radar and I don’t need the recognition,” he said. “I don’t do it to be recognized, I do it because I want to help and to be part of the solution.”

Cline, who has volunteered for the festival for the past eight years, four of those on the Board of Directors, was named president in 2019 and was to serve his one-year term in 2020 until the pandemic hit. He actually worked with other board members on planning and organizing elements of the festival in 2020 and served his “official” term in 2021, so he likes to think of it as a two-year term.

Cline, owner of Cline Glass Contractors since 2011, said the award actually reflects not so much on him, but the work of the festival board and volunteers as a whole.

“This award is an affirmation, a recognition that says a lot about our work as an association,” he says, especially for a trying past two years. “I’m proud of the work everyone has done over the past two years, it’s a total team effort, that’s what it’s all about.”

With a lost 2020 and a scaled-back 2021, Cline says the festival has a lot of work to do and challenging times ahead for 2022, a task that nobody in the association is going to shy away from.

“We started something and we really want to see it through,” he says about the festival’s sense of resolve to continue. “We’re seeking to be relevant again and to meet the needs of all of our volunteers and charities. It’s a process, a step forward to get where we once were.”

Born in San Jose, Cline was raised in Morgan Hill but moved to Gilroy 32 years ago to raise his two children with his wife Cindy. His son and wife have also volunteered for the festival.

The Spice of Life awards dinner, which will include Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, and Business of the Year, as well as other awards, has been set for March 26.

Love is in the Air in Gilroy...

Article submitted by Visit Gilroy

Valentine’s Day is just one week away! Don’t panic…There are plenty of places to find great gifts in Gilroy. Get great deals on jewelry, clothes, and accessories at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Or purchase a bottle of wine from any of our 30+ wineries. View https://visitgilroy.com/wineries. Downtown Gilroy has on-trend gifts at Ivori Boutique, one-of-a-kind antique treasures, and original artworks at Gallery 1202 or Gilroy Center for the Arts. Learn more at https://visitgilroy.com/shopping/. You can find sweet treats at Casa de Fruta. And for your spicy sweetheart, find everything garlic at Garlic World or The Garlic Shoppe.

Wine & Dine Your Valentine

Enjoy “The Sweetheart Bundle” from Sarah’s Vineyard: a charcuterie box, a box of four chocolates, and a bottle of wine/sparkling wine. Pick up or enjoy on the patio on February 14, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fortino Winery is offering a “Sweetheart Saturday” on February 12, 1-3 p.m., with a five-course chocolate and wine pairing, a glass of champagne, and live music. Reserve a table at Relish Kitchen + Drink for a special Valentine’s Day menu with four main courses and three desserts to choose from.

Sweets & Treats

For a sweet gift to go, pick up a box of chocolate-covered strawberries from Friday Flowers between February 7-14. You can purchase heart-shaped sugar cookies from Tristan’s Cookies, or a Valentine’s one-half dozen box of cookies with three M&M, three chocolate chip, and one bonus heart-shaped sugar cookie.

Unique Gifts

Expressions Floral has a unique Rose Bear made of realistic-looking foam roses. It is fourteen inches tall and comes in a variety of colors. Purchase a floral Cupcake for Your Cupcake made of carnations from Rosies & Posies. Select the colors and add on a box of chocolates or a teddy bear for an additional charge.

For other creative gifts ideas, pick up something unique at the California Welcome Center, open daily and located in the Gilroy Premium Outlets. Gift ideas include Valentine’s Day tea towels, “I Love California” mugs with a heart, or a lovable plush from Gilroy Gardens or the Gilroy Ostrich Farm. Pick up one of Gilroy Restaurant Guides or a “Quick Bites” guide to check out sweet stops in the area. Whatever you are planning for Valentine’s Day, Visit Gilroy is here to help!

California Shifting From Pandemic to Endemic?

Article by Emily Hoeven, CalMatters

California is approaching yet another pandemic inflection point — one that could mark the state’s transition to treating COVID like any other virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has hinted at a forthcoming “endemic strategy” for dealing with COVID-19 at least twice in the past two weeks. California’s statewide mask mandate is set to expire on Feb. 15 — and given decreasing test positivity rates, cities such as San Francisco relaxing their mask rules and photos of a maskless Newsom at last weekend’s NFC Championship game, state health officials may not be inclined to extend it.

Newsom’s health administration is experiencing changes of its own: California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the state’s top physician, announced late Tuesday that she is resigning Feb. 11 to “focus on prioritizing care for myself and my family.” The surprise departure comes less than two years after California’s public health director resigned amid a tech snafu resulting in a massive undercount of coronavirus cases.

But even as the state considers a shift in COVID policy, a statewide Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday night found the virus continues to be a primary concern for many Californians. Some key takeaways:

  • 67% of Californians say the worst of the pandemic is behind us — a significant decrease from May 2021, when 86% thought so.
  • 42% fear being hospitalized for COVID  a 14-percentage-point increase from May 2021.
  • 19% named COVID-19 as the most important issue for Newsom and state lawmakers to work on in 2022, followed by homelessness at 13% and jobs, the economy and inflation at 12%.
  • 59% approve of how Newsom is handling COVID, a percentage that has stayed more or less consistent since September 2020.

It may not be clear what path California will take post-omicron, but what is clear is that it will be divisive.

The battle over wearing masks in schools is heating up even in regions such as the Bay Area, with some San Francisco physicians circulating a petition calling on Newsom and state leaders to “immediately shift our public dialogue toward defining a path for removing all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in public schools” and others arguing that not worrying about the virus is a luxury few can afford.

Perhaps nowhere is the divide over COVID policies more stark than in Shasta County, where a Republican supervisor who faced a Tuesday recall election for his lackluster opposition to state restrictions appeared likely to be ousted from office — ceding control of the board of supervisors to officials linked to a local militia.

California Legislature Proposes COVID-19 Supplement Sick Leave for 2022

Article by MATTHEW J. ROBERTS, ESQ. CalChamber

In 2021, the California Legislature passed a paid sick leave law that supplemented the existing state paid sick leave law — it required employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. This supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) mandate expired on September 30, 2021, and was not replaced by any additional leave.  

This year, the legislature is revisiting SPSL by introducing Assembly Bill (AB) 84 as a new leave mandate for 2022. Although many details are similar to 2021’s leave, there are some differences. Please keep in mind that AB 84 is just a legislative proposal; no law is currently in place, and AB 84 may be subject to change.

The proposed 2022 SPSL covers employers with 26 or more employees and will provide a new bank of up to 80 hours for qualifying reasons. An employee’s leave bank is based on their ordinary scheduled workweek with a maximum of 40 hours. An employee qualifies for up to 40 hours of SPSL if they’re unable to work or telework due the following:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidance from the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local public health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who’s subject to a government quarantine, isolation order or guidance; or who has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine.
  • The covered employee is caring for a child, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 245.5, whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

An employee may then qualify for up to another 40 hours if the employee tested positive for COVID-19 or is caring for a family member who tested positive. If the employee requests this second 40-hour bank, an employer may require testing on day 5 after the initial positive test. If an employee is caring for a family member and requests this second 40-hour bank, an employer may also require the employee to produce the family member’s positive test. If the employee refuses to test or disclose tests, they are not entitled to this second bank.

An employee may also qualify for SPSL if:

  • The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevent the employee from working or teleworking.

An employee may be limited to 24 hours of SPSL for these reasons — unless the employee provides a medical certification for more time. The limitation is for each vaccine or booster shot.

SPSL most commonly will be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, but there is a second option to pay based upon a 90-day lookback method, which is consistent with California’s regular paid sick leave. SPSL may be capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in total for each employee. Unfortunately, at this time no tax credits are available to directly offset this leave.

The SPSL is retroactive to January 1, 2022, so an employee may retroactively request leave for any of the above qualifying reasons that have occurred since January 1, 2022.

Lastly, employers will be required to:

  • Create a separate line on an employee’s wage statement that reflects how much leave the employee has used thus far; and
  • Post in the workplace a notice that will be released by the Division of Labor Standards within seven days of this law’s effective date.

If AB 84 is passed and signed into law, it will take effect 10 days from the signature date.

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