Wednesday, April 29, 2020 | Virtual Event

When our region’s community, business, and civic leaders come together at an MBEP event, good things happen. Our 6th annual Regional Economic Summit explored issues important to our region’s economic health, such as the latest with the fallout from COVID-19, the 2020 Census, housing, our food ecosystem, and climate change. 375+ leaders from across the tri-county region and beyond joined us virtually and were inspired by local leaders and national experts who shared important information on how to make your own organization more resilient.

Thank you to all of you who participated!  Our goal is to produce informative and engaging events that tackle the most important issues facing the Monterey Bay region. We’re glad you joined us and hope to see you at our 6th Annual State of the Region on December 2, 2020 at the Monterey Conference Center. Save the date!

How do you pull off an Economic Summit in the midst of a global pandemic? Click here to find out!

It’s a question we’re getting asked pretty frequently these days, and we’re hoping we can share some of the valuable lessons that came out of transitioning our sixth annual Regional Economic Summit into a fully virtual gathering in a matter of just a few short weeks.

Pivoting our annual Regional Economic Summit into a virtual event in less than a month proved to be one of the biggest challenges our MBEP team has faced. It’s pushed us to explore new technology and new ways of doing things and has proven to be a valuable reminder that persistence and innovation really can move mountains.

Going into our sixth Regional Economic Summit, we had a pretty good idea how to coordinate a major event: setting the agenda and booking dynamic, thought-proving speakers with messages pertinent to the Monterey Bay region and handling hundreds of details pertaining to event space and seating and opportunities for networking and collaboration. The nitty-gritty technical details of microphones, photography, music and so much more.

“This was our sixth annual event, and we have a great team, so it’s really been a well-oiled machine and we know exactly what we need to do,” says MBEP Events Coordinator Maya Reed. “It gets fine-tuned a bit, but we have our tasks in place and our processes in place.”

Then COVID-19 happened, and in an instant, everything changed. 

“Everybody was reeling,” says Reed. ” We changed our plan of how we were going to do this at least four times in four weeks.”

So MBEP turned to Santa Cruz Works for guidance on hosting a virtual event. Reed also signed up for dozens of online conferences, classes and events to analyze what worked and what lacked in other virtual platforms.

Ultimately, MBEP hired PSAV, a global event-production company, and worked with a six-person team positioned around the country to produce the engaging experience it wanted to create. The process, says Reed, was ultimately both challenging and exciting.

“There’s more to moving online than just pointing a camera at a presenter and handling the technical challenges of connecting with a virtual audience,” said Reed. “Finding a platform that creates an experience more engaging and more interactive than a Zoom meeting or a webcast was important, and the length of each presentation had to be trimmed to suit a virtual audience. And in the time of COVID-19, it was more important than ever to adjust the content of our Regional Economic Summit to make it relevant to the immediate challenges in the world around us.”

“Moving forward, we anticipate that we’re going to have more of these virtual conferences, so we are putting our list of “must dos” for all virtual events going forward. This includes lots of practice and rehearsals for the participants, rethinking the program to include audience engagement, and ideas to make virtual networking one of the key benefits. People attend events for the content, but networking is just as important. “

Demand is also driving technology companies to innovate the online meeting space. In the past few weeks, a slew of new conferencing platforms and a spate of improvements in existing virtual event platforms have emerged. She also predicts exciting development to improve networking and engagement capabilities on virtual meeting and event platforms.

MBEP’s sixth annual Regional Economic Summit was attended by more than 375 leaders from across the tri-county region and beyond, who were inspired by local leaders and national experts.. Our generous sponsors came through for us yet again, helping cover the increased costs of transitioning our event online.

In terms of sustainability, a virtual conference has some clear advantages as well as implications for reaching a broader geographical audience. “The silver lining in all of this is we’ve all learned a wealth of information and experience that will translate into even better, more engaging virtual MBEP events in the future,” says Reed.

Welcome from Kate Roberts

MBEP’s President & CEO, Kate Roberts, welcomed the audience with an economic snapshot of the region.  Click here to view the presentation slides.

Economic Impact of Coronavirus with Dr. Chris Thornberg, Founder, Beacon Economics

Sharp Drop but Quick Recovery Projected, Says Thornberg

It’s hard to be optimistic about the economy in the midst of a global pandemic, but one of the country’s most respected economists says any economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 may not be as deep or sustained as some would believe. That’s because the U.S. economy is stronger and more resilient than it’s been several decades, says Dr. Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of independent research and consulting firm Beacon Economics, LLC, and director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, who shared his insights on the “Economic Impact of the Coronavirus” during MBEP’s 6th Annual Regional Economic Summit last week. It’s easy to get swept away by headlines and forecasts, but Thornberg believes that while the U.S. economy will be negatively impacted by COVID-19, it’s turnaround will also likely be fairly quick.

“This economy is as healthy an economy as we’ve had in 30 years, not just for high-income households but for all households, and a labor market with more job openings than people looking for work,” he said. “This is an economy that can take a hit and still move forward.”

More regionally, tourism’s central role in the local economies of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties will certainly have a devastating impact than in the U.S. as a whole. May unemployment figures are projected to surpass 19 percent in both counties, and the loss of hotel tax revenues — also known as transient occupancy taxes (TOT) — will cripple municipal budgets.

But the dark clouds have a silver lining: Unlike the last big recession, this one is likely to be brief, and the economy could bounce back quickly, says Thornberg. That’s because the spending freeze and job losses are largely temporary conditions being driven by public health mandates. Eventually, most people will return to their jobs, resume dining out, and return to their previous spending habits. A massive federal stimulus plan and a major expansion of unemployment programs are also affording some relief in the coming weeks. If the past has any lessons, Thornberg said it’s that when people once again feel safe to venture out, people will go back out and live their lives.

What lies ahead is likely “an incredibly sharp and incredibly short recession,” says Thornberg. ‘”No doubt, quarter two is going to be the worst quarter we’ve seen in the United States, but the third quarter will come roaring back, and there will be a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of savings.”

“Hysteria, not reality, is the new normal when it comes to these kinds of conversations: There’s no doubt this is the biggest hit to the U.S. economy in 10 years, but this is not a recession scenario,” he said.

Unlike the previous recession where the subprime bubble and highly inflated parts of the economy collapsed upon themselves and millions of jobs were permanently lost in the U.S., the current circumstances — and most of the job losses — are likely to be temporary. “The vast majority of the people who are unemployed know exactly what they’ll be doing in a few weeks,” says Thornberg. “They’ll be going back to work.”

Thornberg does see hard times ahead for several sectors already under stress: Retail was already struggling under tremendous competition from the internet; restaurants in what he sees as an over-saturated industry; and governments already facing huge pension fund obligations.

“Not everything is going to heal overnight,” said Thornberg, “but it’s going to happen much faster than people expect.”

Click here for a full Post COVID-19 Economic Report from Beacon Economics. Watch the full session here.

Graphic recording courtesy of Kathleen Crocceti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Dr. Chris Thornberg Bio

Christopher Thornberg founded Beacon Economics LLC in 2006. Under his leadership, the firm has become one of the most respected research organizations in California serving public and private sector clients across the United States.

In 2015, Dr. Thornberg also became Director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and an Adjunct Professor at the School. An expert in economic and revenue forecasting, regional economics, economic policy, and labor and real estate markets, Dr. Thornberg has consulted for private industry, cities, counties, and public agencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area, San Diego, the Inland Empire, Seattle, Orange County, Sacramento, Nevada, and other geographies across the nation.

Recent and ongoing projects include housing and rent control studies for the California Apartment Association; quarterly regional economic outlooks for the East Bay Economic Development Alliance; a recession recovery plan for the City and County of San Francisco; an annual economic assessment of LA’s city council districts for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; an analysis of the local technology industry for the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board; and an economic impact study for the 2024 Los Angeles Olympic Games Committee.

Dr. Thornberg became nationally known for forecasting the subprime mortgage market crash that began in 2007, and was one of the few economists on record to predict the global economic recession that followed. Well known for his ability to capture and hold audiences, Dr. Thornberg has presented to hundreds of leading business, government, and nonprofit organizations across the globe including Chevron, The New Yorker, Colliers International, the California Chamber of Commerce, City National Bank, the California State Association of Counties, State Farm Insurance, the City of Los Angeles, the California and Nevada Credit Union League, and the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, among many others. He has testified before the U.S. Congress House Committee on Financial Services on municipal debt issues, before the California State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation regarding rule -2- changes related to Proposition 13, and before the Los Angeles City Council about proposed changes to local minimum wage laws.

Dr. Thornberg is a contributor to monthly economics polls published by Reuters. He also serves as Chair of the California Chamber of Commerce Economic Advisory Council, is on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, is an Executive Member of the Central City Association (Los Angeles), and is a member of the California Association for Local Economic Development.

Prior to launching Beacon Economics, Dr. Thornberg was a senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast. He previously taught in the MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson School, in the Rady School of Business at UC San Diego, and at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also held a faculty position in the economics department at Clemson University. A well-known media commentator, Dr. Thornberg has appeared on CNN and NPR and is regularly quoted in major national dailies including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Thornberg holds a Ph.D in Business Economics from The Anderson School at UCLA, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Importance of Census Complete Count with Vince Barabba, Former US Census Director

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s easy to not think about the importance of the census. But when we all come out of this crisis, the time for self-reporting will have passed. Funding to support hospitals, education, and infrastructure relies on the data generated by the census. Vincent P. Barabba, a speaker at MBEP’s 6th Annual Regional Economic Summit, is one of the world’s foremost experts on the lessons we can draw from census data, and the importance of a complete 2020 census count. The Capitola resident has built a long career on understanding how to apply and process data and to use it to inform effective decision-making.

Click here for the slides that accompanied this presentation. Watch the full presentation here.

Graphic recording courtesy of Kathleen Crocceti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Vince Barabba Bio

Vincent Barabba, Chairman, Market Insight Corporation which created MyProductAdvisor.com— a consumer-facing web site designed to provide shoppers with unbiased customized automotive product recommendations. 

He retired in 2003 as the general manager of corporate strategy and knowledge development at the General Motors Corporation where he played a critical role in the development of OnStar. He serves on the Community Board of Palo Alto Med Foundation Santa Cruz at Sutter Health

Mr. Barabba is a member of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and twice served as director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census – the only person to have been appointed to that position by U.S. Presidents of different political parties. He has been appointed to government positions by five Presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and James Earl Carter to be Census Bureau Director; and Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush to be the U.S. Representative to the Population Commission of the United Nations. Between his government service and GM assignments he served as the manager of market research for the Xerox Corporation and director of market intelligence for Eastman Kodak. Mr. Barabba was the co-founder of Decision Making Information where he provided electoral information to political campaigns from City Hall to the Presidency. He has also served on the board of directors for the Marketing Science Institute and the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago.

In recognition of his performance in the private and public sectors he has received:

  • An Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the Trustees of the California State University
  • The Distinguished Alumni Award from the California State University at Northridge.
  • Induction into the Market Research Council Hall of Fame.
  • The American Marketing Association’s Parlin Award for leadership in the application of science to the discipline of marketing research
  • The MIT/GM Henry Grady Weaver Award for individuals who have contributed the most to the advancement of theory and practice in marketing science.
  • The American Marketing Association’s Explor Award (through the Market Insight Corporation) granted to organizations who have demonstrated the most innovative uses of technology in applications that advance research, online or otherwise.

He is the author of How Your enterprise Can Make Better Decisions and Learn from Mistakes, (2019 Amazon). Wise Decision Making (2017 Amazon), The Decision Loom (2011 Triarchy Press), Surviving Transformation (2004 Oxford University Press) and Meeting of the Minds (1995 Harvard Business School Press). He is the co-author of Business Strategies for a Messy World (2014 Palgrave-Pivot), Hearing the Voice of the Market (1991 Harvard Business School Press) and The 1980 Census: Policy Making Amid Turbulence (1983 Lexington Books).

Mr. Barabba is a past president and a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and is a Fellow of the Society of Decision Professionals.

Panel Discussion: Addressing Climate Change in the Context of COVID-19

Climate change may affect organizations in different ways, but the realities of sea-level rise, hotter, dryer summers, and elevated fire risks, among others, are unifying concerns for leaders across the Monterey Bay region. And while many organizations are already taking action to minimize their impact and to mitigate climate changes, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a significant impact on future progress.

Those were some of the points that came out of a panel discussion on “Addressing Climate Change in the Context of COVID-19” at MBEP’s 6th Annual Regional Economic Summit. The discussion, moderated by J.R. Killigrew, Monterey Bay Community Power’s Director of Communications & Energy Programs, featured participation by Elise Brentnall, President and Chief Operations Officer, South Valley Internet; Karl Rice, CEO of  Santa Cruz Seaside Company; and Rene Mendez, City Manager, City of Gonzales.

“It goes without saying that life as we know it has changed incredibly, but we do feel there is an opportunity to have a dialogue about the growing importance and relevance of climate change and how do we address climate change and continue to accelerate change in light of this pandemic,” said Killigrew. “It’s certainly a unique opportunity, to say the least. and humbly speaking, we know the earth is getting an opportunity to breathe, but it does come at a significant economic cost, with millions out of work and wondering about their next paycheck. So the big question is, how do we effectively engage when we’re not together, and how do we bring forth inspiring solutions to help accelerate the type of opportunities that are out there?”

Monterey Bay Community Power is keenly aware of the interaction between climate change and the economy said Killigrew and sees the convergence of economic vitality in addressing climate change as a win-win solution.

“We wanted to outline the importance of this great nexus of folks coming from the private, public, and technology sectors who are adjusting to climate change in light of this pandemic,” said Killigrew. “We all recognize it’s happening, but it is invaluable to learn and connect with these panelists who are helping to shape the present and the future of the Monterey Bay region.”

Rice, of the Santa Cruz Seaside Co., said sea rise is “a very relevant topic to us,” given the company’s “intimate and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean.” “In time, that ocean is going to rise, and that poses a serious threat to the Boardwalk and other industries.”

Panelists shared measures their organizations had taken to reduce energy consumption and emissions and to increase efficiency.

South Valley Internet installed new air conditioning systems and servers, uses fuel-efficient vehicles, and whenever possible, incorporates solar. Brentnall said the next two years will bring exciting changes for connectivity, with a tremendous amount of building toward much faster, more reliable internet.

The Santa Cruz Seaside Co. implemented employee shuttles from Watsonville and in remote lots so that both employees and visitors to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk don’t increase traffic and vehicle emissions. The company is incorporating LED lighting, water-capturing plant systems, and more energy-efficient rides into its operation.

Climate already plays a key role in shaping what South Valley Internet is doing, said Brentnall. “The fires over the past years have had a huge impact on our industry and how we’re looking at delivering those services. We don’t like seeing those millions of millions of dollars of assets which are used as lifelines for people going up in flames, so in the example of South Valley Internet, whenever and wherever possible, we are building underground.”

The lesson of last year’s power outages and the challenges many now face in trying to work or learn from home during a pandemic is that society needs to be better prepared: Internet is an essential utility to stay connected, just like water and power, and without power, you don’t have internet. “We cannot expect to move forward as we have in years past,” said Brentnall. We have to change the way we think of our utilities and we have to be prepared to support those utilities ourselves, especially power.”

The City of Gonzales has switched to solar power generation, private sector partners have substantially reduced their carbon footprint, and Gonzales’s second turbine in a city-owned business park is helping businesses operate more sustainably at a lower cost. Ultimately, said Mendez, those investments will lead to more good-paying jobs and sustainable wages.

“The pandemic has really put the spotlight on some of the inequities and some of the challenges that we have,” said Mendez. “We have to approach it like an opportunity.”

Gonzales recently partnered with T-Mobile to provide free hotspots to residents in its “Internet for All” initiative, which has distributed about 1,400 of the devices in drive-through programs, helping residents with the essential tools they need.

Watch the full panel discussion here.

Graphic recording courtesy of Kathleen Crocceti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Climate Panel Bios

Panel Moderator:

J.R. Killigrew, Director of Communications and Energy Programs, Monterey Bay Community Power

J.R. Killigrew is the Director of Communications and Energy Programs at Monterey Bay Community Power. He spearheads marketing/communications, account services, community relations and energy programs for MBCP’s current 300,000 customers which will expand to over 430,000 customers by 2021 with the inclusion of 11 new jurisdictions across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. JR’s background weaves together a dynamic mix of experiences from the non-profit, CCA, real estate, sustainability, climate action planning, visual story-telling, and business development sectors. Prior to Monterey Bay Community Power, J.R. worked at MCE where he collaborated on MCE’s inclusion of Contra Costa County and Napa County communities as well as significantly expanded commercial customer enrollment in Deep Green, MCE’s 100% renewable energy service offering. Before joining the CCA movement, J.R. served as Network Engagement Manager at ICLEI USA where he managed and supported a network of cities, counties, towns and regional agencies with climate mitigation and climate adaptation tools, resources and technical support. J.R. holds a B.A. in Economics from Pitzer College.


Elise Brentnall, Chief Operating Officer, South Valley Internet, Inc.

With more than 24 years of experience in technology, you might say Elise grew up in the tech industry… and you’d be right. The daughter of South Valley Internet Incorporated founder Robert Brentnall, Elise joined SVI in 2002. Prior to joining the company Ms. Brentnall honed her business skills at various technology companies both small start-ups and large corporations such as Sun Microsystems. Elise was also a founding member and part of the Executive team at Eclectic Search Incorporated. Elise is currently serving as a board member for FISPA where she is the chair of FISPALive and the California ISP Association where she is Treasurer. Ms. Brentnall received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Brentnall continues to study and expand her knowledge about technology trends and has acquired multiple technological certifications through continued education.

René MendezCity Manager, City of Gonzales

René Mendez has over twenty years of state and local government experience. Right after graduate school he spent five years with the California Legislative Analyst Office and then spent five years with Solano County Administrator’s Office. Before coming to Gonzales in 2005, he spent the prior eight years as the County Administrator for the County of Inyo. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from California State University, Stanislaus and a Master of Arts Degree from Duke University.

Karl RicePresident, Santa Cruz Seaside Company

Karl Rice is the President of the Santa Cruz Seaside Company. Previously, he worked for the Seaside Company as its Chief Financial Officer and Director of Real Estate. Before joining the Seaside Company in 2012, Karl worked in real estate development and asset management, and also spent time as a commercial banker providing financing for start-up technology and biotechnology companies. He holds a master’s degree in business administration in finance and real estate from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and communication from the University of Washington. Karl is a sixth-generation resident of the Santa Cruz area and he and his wife have two children, the seventh generation of the family to call Santa Cruz home.

Lighting Round in Review: Home Sharing as an Immediate Affordable Housing Solution

In a Lightning Round session on “Many Benefits of Home-Sharing,” Covia Home Match Director Karen Coppock shared how an innovative approach to housing is making a profound difference for participants in four California counties.

Already operating in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties, Home Match is on track to launch in Monterey County this summer, pending funding. The program, which charges no fees for service, provides a vital solution to match homeowners and renters with available space in their homes with roommates. Coppock said both sides are carefully vetted in a comprehensive screening process that not only checks criminal history, background, and references but also screens for compatibility and guides each match through an extensive living agreement that helps both sides establish house rules and expectations and follows up with continuing support. “The magic is in the match,” says Coppock. “Think of this as a dating service, not for romance, but for roommates.”

The positive impacts of Home Match are emotional as well as financial, says Coppock, creating valuable social connections and support systems, particularly for older adults in an environment where an estimated 30-40% of older adults struggle to meet basic needs, 30% of older adults live with one or more disabilities, and 20-30% of older adults live alone.

Homeshare is a flexible, immediate solution for the Monterey Bay region, where a typical rental can consume more than 70 percent of a minimum-wage salary and many adults are one paycheck away from disaster. And while refurbishing or building new homes are long-term solutions to housing, home-sharing is a fast, flexible solution. According to a Trulia study, more than 350,000 vacant rooms in California’s top six housing markets could make a significant impact without the time lag of housing permits, renovations, and construction. “Rent burden is an enormous threat to our community,” said Coppock. “Home sharing is a really quick way to create immediate solutions to housing issues.”

Coppock shared the story of a Marina business owner who compiled huge debt after her husband died of lung cancer and she’d put her business on hold to care for him. A well-matched homeshare roommate has allowed her to keep her home, plus her roommate takes care of the shopping and provides great companionship.

With 80 percent of Home Match participants classified as low- to extremely low-income, the program is essentially an affordable housing program, says Coppock On average, participants are saving $600 in monthly housing costs, which is significant for the average salary of  $36,471.

Coppock urged the audience to share the word about home-sharing or opening their homes to the program. So far, 31 people on the Monterey Peninsula have expressed interest in sharing rooms, including a city councilmember.

“When people talk about affordable housing, most people think of building or refurbishing,” said Coppock. “Let’s add home share to the mix.”

Click here for the slides that accompanied this presentation. Watch the full lightning round here.

Graphic recording courtesy of Kathleen Crocceti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Karen Coppock Bio

Karen CoppockDirector, Home Match SF

Karen Coppock is the Director of Home Match SF, an innovative home-sharing program that meets three important goals: empowering aging community members to stay in their chosen homes, creating affordable places to live by leveraging existing housing stock, and increasing social connections. In addition to running the program in San Francisco, Karen oversees the strategic direction and operational alignment of Covia’s Home Match programs in Fremont and Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Ms. Coppock has 15+ years of experience in developing strategies, partnerships, and teams to expedite the sustainable growth of mission-oriented organizations. Ms. Coppock has a joint B.S. in Business Administration and Spanish from California State University and an MA and PhD in International Relations from Tufts University.

Lighting Round in Review: Diverse Farming Models Help Create Resiliency in Our Food Supply

In a Lightning Round Talk on “Our Food Ecosystem,” Live Earth Farm CEO Tom Broz spoke of the importance of diversified direct-to-consumer farming operations in contributing to building resilient, diversified food systems.

In a time when many businesses have shut down and normal food supply chains been disrupted, increased demand has left Live Earth Farm busier than ever, said Broz. There’s been so much interest in the farm’s subscription-based Community-Supported Agriculture program that’s there’s now a waiting list.

At Live Earth Farm, a wide range of crops, coupled with wildlife corridors, native plantings and beneficial insect habitat all contribute to a more robust, sustainable ecosystem. Likewise, cultivating a diverse range of farm systems, including locally supported farm models such as his, is critical for a reliable food supply system that ensures local food resiliency even through emergencies such as COVID-19.

The Central Coast has some of the most fertile in the nation, but its large-scale farm operations mostly grow food for places other than here. 

Small to medium-size farms like his represent a small portion of ag in the region but are a crucial element in building a stronger and more resilient local food system. Equally important are the one-on-one interactions with consumers that build connections with producers, to the land and local ecosystem, and the relationships farmers have with organizations such as Food What?! to educate and nourish the region on multiple levels. 

When Live Earth Farm was founded, the CSA model, in which farmer and consumer enter into a mutually supportive relationship, was relatively unknown. It’s now the largest such operation in the region. “CSA is at the heart of our farm’s operation and has allowed us to become what are today,” said Broz.

That means growing more than 50 crops, supplying 600 custom-packed produce boxes to its CSA community, and sourcing restaurants and local nonprofits. In the weeks since the shelter-at-home order took effect, CSA memberships have doubled and there’s now a waiting list to subscribe. That scenario is replicated for small farm producers, farmers markets, and locally sourced produce delivery services around the country, said Broz.

“I think it’s pointing to something more important,” said Broz. “It shows that people trust this more transparent relationship. Customers place a premium on knowing how and who has grown their food.” Each week, customers pepper him with questions about their food is grown, how employees are treated, and about food safety practices. “It’s a constant interaction and engagement with our customers.”

That’s been his farm’s mission from the start: To give people access to our farm, so they can experience how their food is grown. Farms are a resource to their communities, nourishing both health and community.  “I believe the more we understand the supportive relationships of the natural ecosystems we live in, the stronger and healthier we’ll be,” said Broz. “Farmers are by nature optimists: To plant a seed, believe it will grow, germinate, be harvested and sold at a fair price, takes a great leap of faith.”

Watch the full lightning round here.

Graphic recording courtesy of Kathleen Crocceti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Tom Broz Bio

Tom Broz, CEO, Live Earth Farm

Tom is a farmer and leads the farm working team that cultivates the soil and grows everything. Live Earth Farm’s overall farming philosophy includes growing crops as close and harmonious with nature as possible. They thrive on building diversity to enhance the native habitat and organic ecosystem on the farm. They also work on establishing wildlife corridors and ensuring the use of native plantings to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and create beneficial insect habitat.

MBEP Presents Public-Private Partnership Award: Healthcare Workers Honored

Monterey Bay Economic Partnership awarded its annual Public-Private Partnership Award to three outstanding healthcare workers, representing the public, private and nonprofit sectors and all three regions of the Monterey Bay region.

At MBEP’s 6th Annual Regional Economic, Summit Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, President of CSU Monterey Bay and MBEP’s board chair, presented the award to the following individuals who accepted the award on behalf of their entire teams and their colleagues across the region: Amy Mitchell Meza, BSN, RN, PHN, Supervising Public Health Nurse for the Communicable Disease Unit, Public Health Division, Health Services Agency, County of Santa Cruz; Rediet Taddesse, BSN, RN, FNP, Family Nurse Practitioner, San Benito Health Foundation; and Heather Bowers, BSN, RN, CNOR, Infection Prevention Coordinator, Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula.

Normally MBEP’s Public-Private Partnership Award recognizes a particular project that has shown great coordination and teamwork between the public and private sectors. Past recipients include Abbott Square in Santa Cruz, and Tanimura and Antle’s Spreckels Crossing Farmworker Housing project, to name a few. But during these extraordinary times, MBEP’s board of directors felt it was important to recognize healthcare individuals that represent the breadth of the region’s geography, and from each sector. “We felt it was salient at this time to focus on our healthcare heroes — those putting themselves at risk during the COVID-19 crisis and going above and beyond to serve our communities across the region,” said Dr. Ochoa.

Kate Roberts, President and CEO of MBEP, added, “Thanks to all our award recipients. We are so grateful for all the sacrifices that they and their colleagues have made throughout these unprecedented times. When the world eventually declares this pandemic over, we will have all of them all to thank for it.” Read more

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