Member Spotlight

City of Marina Building Community by Design

A few years ago when Joby Aviation leased some hangars at Marina’s quiet little municipal airport, it set into motion some big changes for the city: The company’s presence brought improvements to the collection of former army hangers that the city of Marina had acquired, says Assistant City Manager Matthew Mogensen, but the company is also bringing positive change to the city in the form of leading-edge jobs and visibility in the heart of a region that’s defining itself as a hub for innovation.

We’re very happy about all the improvements they’re bringing to our airport,” says Mogensen. “It’s also setting us up for a future that’s more innovation-focused.”

The excitement around Joby, and what its presence means to the city will likely become more noticeable, said Mogensen, when we begin to see Joby’s electric flight vehicles being flight tested, something that is rumored to start happening in the months ahead.

Marina is already home to the University of California Monterey Bay Education, Science and Technology (UC MBEST) Center, which fosters collaboration between public and private education and research institutions, government research agencies, private business, and policymakers in productive alliances, and the Monterey Bay Drone, Automation and Robotics Technology (DART) initiative, a regional economic development strategy working to establish a drone, automation and robotics technology cluster In the Monterey Bay region.

A town that celebrates its diversity as one of its greatest strengths, Marina also aims to create a community where residents can find ample housing opportunities. The city has the highest rate of growth on the Monterey Peninsula. Among the high-profile developments coming to fruition are The Dunes on Monterey Bay, a mixed-use planned community within walking distance of a new movie theater, shops and restaurants. The next phase of that Shea Homes development, a walkable urban village known as The Promenade, will begin construction next year, bringing new live-work units, townhomes, a new Brass Tap restaurant/brewery, specialty grocery store, and walkable green space to Marina.

When completed, The Dunes will include 1,280 housing units. Seahaven, another nearby development that is already selling homes, will eventually include a total of 1,050 units. Between those two projects, close to 1,000 new housing units are expected to be constructed in Marina in the next three years, says Mogensen, including much-needed affordable and workforce units.

Across from The Dunes shopping center on Imjin Parkway next to Highway 1, a 200-room hotel project in two 100-room phases is slated to get under construction in the next year, a project that will become the city’s largest hotel.

Bank of America Invests in Regional Well-being

Bank of America recently announced more than $485,000 in grants to Monterey Bay nonprofits that work to put economically disadvantaged populations on the path to long-term financial stability.

The local nonprofits receiving funding provide workforce development services building pathways to employment as well as programs that support basic needs such as hunger relief, healthcare, and emergency shelter — resources that have been critical throughout the pandemic.

Recipients include MBEP member Digital NEST, which provides youth from low-income households with the latest digital technology and skill-based STEM-inspired training programs to develop local talent for regional jobs, and the Natividad Foundation, which established pop-up COVID vaccination clinics to help more essential workers, such as agricultural farmworkers, get vaccinations. That funding was critical to bringing vaccines to thousands of Monterey County’s essential and underserved residents, says Natividad Foundation President/CEO Jennifer Williams. Combined with a gift last year to help purchase medical equipment for the hospital’s converted COVID Unit, it makes Bank of America the largest funder of Natividad’s COVID-19 response.

Other organizations receiving grants include Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County; Food Bank for Monterey County; Future Citizens Foundation; Housing Matters; Monterey Peninsula College; Rancho Cielo, Santa Cruz Office of Education; Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County; California State University Monterey Bay and Young Women’s Christian Association.

This current round of grants across Monterey Bay builds on the over $1.5 million in grants that Bank of America has provided to local organizations since 2016.

Investing in the region is key to boosting regional economic development and economic mobility for all, says Bank of America Senior Vice President/Monterey Bay Market Executive Jennifer Dacquisto, not just for the bank’s clients but its 220 employees who live and work here in the tri-county area and the region at large. So far this year, Bank of America’s Monterey Bay employees have volunteered almost 700 hours to better their communities.

“Over 97 percent of our funding goes to support the predominantly Hispanic/Latino community because that group makes up about 50 percent of our community,” said Dacquisto. “What we know is that when we are thriving, we all lift each other up.”

Dacquisto said there are many parallels between Bank of America’s funding priorities and MBEP’s initiatives across the region, which is why the financial institution is now an MBEP member.

“The reality is that there is so much synergy with Bank of America, in what our funding priorities are and what MBEP is working on, says Dacquisto. “It makes sense. We can’t do it alone: We need collaborative efforts, and that’s really why we joined.”

One key area Dacquisto plans to pursue in conjunction with MBEP is financial literacy outreach, particularly at the high school level.

Bank of America already invests significant resources into financial literacy, she said, but many students, and adults, still lack basic financial knowledge when it comes to such things as balancing a checkbook, building good credit, and understanding basic banking services, and those skills aren’t taught in school. “The truth is, a lot of people are intimidated, or perhaps don’t speak the language,” Dacquisto said,” and we see children helping their parents, so educating children is important.”

Even with existing outreach through California State University, Monterey Bay, public libraries and local food banks, Dacquisto said there are large segments of neighborhoods across the Monterey Bay region that remain untapped. Reaching those communities, and ensuring the next generation gains solid financial understanding, is key to helping families build economic stability and to creating a more equitable region.

“We’d like to broaden our reach, and we’re very interested in taking it to high schools,” said Dacquisto. “That’s what we’re about. We live and work here in this community, and our kids go to school here. Bank of America, as much as we’re a big bank, we’re also a local, community-minded bank and we take that responsibility seriously.”

Pictured, Bank of America Financial Center Teammates in Seaside show their Aloha Spirit in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.

Housing Matters Launches Building with Purpose

It’s one of the most challenging issues facing our communities. Yet the solution is actually quite simple.

You solve homelessness, says Housing Matters CEO Phil Kramer, by providing housing.

And that’s literally what the nonprofit organization is preparing to do: Build 120 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness, the largest permanent supportive housing project ever undertaken in Santa Cruz County.

Housing Matters has launched Building With Purpose, a capital campaign to raise $8 million in community funding support for the five-story residential complex, which will be located on the Housing Matters campus at 115 Coral St., Santa Cruz.

The Harvey West Studios will transform the site where seven small homes currently stand into modest studio apartments, each about 300 square feet, ensuring not just a roof overhead for some of the area’s most vulnerable residents but also access to on-site resources to help individuals thrive and retain that housing long-term.

“So far, thanks to the generosity of our community, we’ve raised $6.6 million, leaving just $1.4 million to go, which is a testament to the generosity and caring evident in our community,” says Kramer.

The project is also supported by generous philanthropists, a bank loan, and public and private grants, including a $2.5 million gift from Central California Alliance for Health.

The project’s overall budget is estimated at between $25 million and $28 million, and to minimize both costs and the building’s environmental impact, the project will incorporate high-quality modular construction and passive design with low environmental impact. The restorative environment will incorporate gathering areas, landscaped spaces, and a rooftop deck to foster intentional community and staff interaction.

Harvey West Studios is a project six years in the making, and it builds upon the long track record Housing Matters has in partnering with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness and into permanent housing. Among the project’s supporters is MBEP co-founder and Board Member Bud Colligan.

The goal is tantalizingly within reach: The project received unanimous Planning Commission approval in November 2020, with construction set to begin in 2022 and occupancy to happen in 2023.

Housing Matters, which began as a loosely affiliated group of faith-based and secular organizations, was one of the first agencies in the county to realign its programs with the best practices of the Housing First model. The organization runs four emergency and transitional housing shelters for nearly 230 people, a medical clinic, and a 12-bed medical respite care facility.

In the last two years, more than 550 people have found permanent housing with support from Housing Matters.
Creating greater awareness about the realities and the root causes of homelessness, and dispelling some of the misconceptions, are vital to the mission of Housing Matters.

The cost of housing in one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation is definitely a factor contributing to homelessness, says Kramer, and the need for more affordable housing for very low-income individuals is urgent. But homelessness and its causes are by no means unique to Santa Cruz County.

“What we find when we look at the research is that we are more alike than different from other communities, and that creates an opportunity for us to look at the issue regionally and broadly, understanding that a county line is a demarcation line but it doesn’t mean that the crisis or the need to find solutions stops at any county border. We need regional solutions and we also have to work collaboratively.”

Job loss is the No. 1 reason people become homeless, said Kramer, and according to the Point-in-Time Count, the biennial Census count measuring the prevalence of homelessness in communities, 74 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County were local residents at the time they became homeless. https://housingmatterssc.org/2019-santa-cruz-county-homeless-census-and-point-in-time-count/

“One of the most common misperceptions around homelessness is that the people experiencing homelessness are not from here, that they come from somewhere else. The reality is that these are our neighbors, these are people who lived in the community for a long time,” said Kramer.

And for those individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and disabling conditions, stability relies heavily on access to daily supportive services such as medical care and ongoing case management. Those are the ones that slip through the cracks, says Kramer.

“We’re trying to change the conversation in our communities,” says Kramer. “The solution is more than the key to the door.”

When complete, Harvey West Studios will be the single largest permanent supportive housing project ever built in Santa Cruz County. But 120 units is a drop in the bucket in a sea of need in the county, and homelessness is an issue without regard to borders.

“There’s certainly a lot to celebrate there: For 120 people, we will end their experience of being homeless,” said Kramer. “I don’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate that, but we need more. We’re hoping that this project will be a model for the community to build other projects across the county and across the region.”

Learn more about Building With Purpose, register for a webinar, or make a donation here.

Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Recognized for Nursing Excellence

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital received the prestigious Magnet designation last month, an elite status of nursing excellence and attained by fewer than 10 percent of U.S. healthcare institutions.

The recognition is the highest honor for nursing excellence possible, says Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System President and CEO Pete Delgado, and it is the result of a long record of investment in a strong, cohesive, and highly skilled workforce. 

The fact that it capped one of the most challenging years healthcare organizations have ever faced makes it even more meaningful.

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, the process of pursuing Magnet recognition provides a roadmap for clinical and nursing excellence, which advances and benefits the entire organization. Excellent clinical and organizational outcomes are achieved by creating an environment that supports interprofessional collaboration, shared decision-making, innovation, and evidence-based practice. For patients, Magnet recognition ensures the highest quality care, delivered by nurses who are encouraged and supported to be the very best that they can be.

“Achieving Magnet recognition, especially in the face of COVID-19 is a testament to our staff and our high standards,” said Delgado. “Achieving Magnet recognition reinforces our culture and commitment to patient care. It’s an exciting achievement for our organization and reflects service to the community.”

In 2016, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital embarked on the Magnet journey with the formation of a shared governance structure and the development of a professional practice model. Since then, SVMH has implemented many processes and infrastructures to support professional growth and autonomy, and clinical excellence.

Building up pathways for advancement and career growth plays a huge role, says Delgado. Professional development programs include tuition assistance, support for advanced degrees and continuing education, a clinical ladder program, a formal mentoring program, national certification support, and workshops for precepting. Five years ago, about 30 percent of its nurses held bachelor’s degrees, with the majority having completed the more common two-year nursing programs. Today, the number of nurses with four-year degrees has climbed to 65 percent, said Delgado, with the target of 80 percent.

That more vigorous nursing education builds critical thinking skills and deepens scientific understanding, creating a higher standard of nursing professionalism. Delgado said SVMH continues to build bridges with California State University, Monterey Bay, and Hartnell College to increase opportunities for educational advancement in nursing and supports those mid-career nurses who seek to advance their professional education through scholarships and incentives. 

And since more than 70 percent of its patient population is Latino, SVMH has worked hard to increase cultural competence, investing in language courses so as to communicate with patients, whenever possible, in their preferred language.

Last year, when hospital staff around the county were facing layoffs and furloughs due to massive revenue losses from canceled elective surgeries, SVMH found ways to redirect idled employees into community support positions. More than 200 employees were given the option to work at a community call center and to help nonprofit organizations such as the Salvation Army. Registered nurses met with ag companies, conducted early-morning COVID safety education talks in fields for farmworkers, and visited the hotels where COVID-positive agricultural workers quarantined to check on them and provide care. Those employees continued to earn paychecks, said Delgado, while also doing jobs critical to reducing the spread of the virus.

COVID showed how capable, and adaptable, health care can be, and Delgado said the challenges of the pandemic have pushed health care forward in lasting ways.

“It would have taken 10 years to move telemedicine capabilities,” said Delgado. “Instead, it took 10 days, because that was the only way physicians could see their patients. Physicians in our group were able to pivot and educated folks as to how to use the equipment,” he said. 

In addition, the unprecedented level of collaboration between Monterey County’s four hospitals — SVMH, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Natividad Medical Center, and Mee Memorial Healthcare System, helped ensure that critical supplies and information could be shared to everyone’s benefit.

“I’m really proud of my nurses and my hospital staff for finding innovative ways to keep patients and everyone safe and keep the hospital going.”

To make health care accessible and available to the community it serves, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System has expanded the number of doctors and specialists in its network and made sure patients could receive the care they need, regardless of financial status. Healthcare doesn’t stop at the hospital walls, says Delgado: Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, in conjunction with Taylor Farms and Montage Health, is helping communities engage in creating healthier environments where they live, work, learn and play, through the Blue Zones Project. Initially launched in Salinas, the Blue Zones Project is now extending throughout Monterey County.

Mynt Systems Bringing High Performance to Commercial Real Estate

Early last year, commercial energy efficiency solutions company Mynt Systems was named to the Inc. 5000 Series: California, which named the Santa Cruz-based firm as one of the state’s fastest-growing private companies based on revenue growth.

It’s not hard to understand why, as conversations about climate resilience move into the mainstream and companies become increasingly aware that what’s good for the planet can also be good for their bottom line. 

Mynt Systems helps them do both, says CEO Derek Hansen.

Founded in 2014, the company takes a holistic approach to help commercial and industrial clients, combining the assessment, engineering, design, and implementation of energy efficiency into one package, simplifying the process for its clients. Its portfolio includes a growing list of high-profile energy efficiency projects: In 2019, Mynt Systems helped transform the San Benito Health Foundation building into the state’s first net-zero carbon, grid failure-resilient healthcare facility, replacing its fluorescent lighting and a 25-year-old HVAC system with LED lighting, rooftop solar with battery backup, while concurrently performing a complete facelift and installing a teaching kitchen. Ensuring resilience against planned and unplanned power outages, the upgrades also resulted in a savings of 214,291 annual kilowatt-hours and $42,366 in first-year savings.

A combination of efficiency measures such as LED lighting, prismatic skylights, new HVAC controls, and window film and rooftop solar helped Graniterock achieve 99 percent energy savings at its corporate headquarters, avoiding 15 million pounds of CO2 emissions over the next two decades. Mynt Systems is now working with Graniterock on a 5-megawatt solar project at its quarry in Aromas, one of the first mines in the state to make a major investment in renewable energy. 

From commercial bakeries to computer chip manufacturing plants, Mynt Systems has tailored its energy efficiency expertise to the unique needs of each industrial facility, with the goal of creating high-performance, profitable properties.

That makes those companies more competitive and more resilient, says Hansen, and plays a vital role in supporting local production and revitalizing the economy.

“We believe heavily in the renewal of the green blue-collar,” says Hansen. “We’re cleaning up American industrial and commercial real estate and creating a massive amount of jobs across the economy through the ripple effect.”

Last year turned out to be Mynt System’s biggest year to date, says Hansen, who sees this as an “aha!” moment for renewable energy infrastructure and technology.

“We’re a part of the change that’s necessary,” says Hansen. “At the end of the day, we’re committed to the transformation of commercial real estate into sustainable, resilient assets.”

Gathering for Women: Essential Connections

For some women, Gathering for Women provides a safe place to shower or get a meal while they experience homeless, to receive a soft pillow to make sleeping in a car a bit more comfortable, and to get connections to community resources that can help them move forward or improve their situations. The Monterey nonprofit is also a place where women can find some dignity at a moment in their lives where that can be hard to find.

That’s because the staff and volunteers at Gathering for Women recognize that every homeless woman has her own unique story, says Gathering for Women Executive Director Staci Alziebler-Perkins, and breaking through the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding homelessness is an important part of addressing the complexity of issues that contribute to it.

Homelessness can be the result of a broad spectrum of factors: Substance abuse and mental health issues, or external factors such as job losses and medical emergencies, like the substitute whose work hours vanished as a result of the pandemic, says Alziebler-Perkins, or the bank employee whose pay raise pushed her out of the eligibility threshold for affordable childcare. Some homeless women sleep in vehicles, tents, or parks, while others seek temporary shelter in relatives’ homes or garages.

“Every person has a different story,” said Alziebler-Perkins. “There are a lot of negative perceptions, but the reality is that it could happen to anyone.”

Housing cost burdens in areas such as Monterey County leave little margin for households to handle such crises as unexpected illnesses, unemployment or even an unbudgeted emergency car repair. And when the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted this June, she worries that the true impact of the pandemic on housing could become vividly clear.  “We’re waiting to see what happens,” said Alziebler-Perkins, “but we know many people are choosing to eat or pay rent. Back in 2019, the average American was something like $400 away from a crisis….that’s the cost of a tire. With the current economic crisis, imagine them now.”

Gathering for Women, founded in 2014, is run by a staff of 10 and a team of volunteers who operate a Day Center that meets the immediate needs of homeless women — food, clothing and shelter referrals — while partnering with other providers to address issues such as employment, mental health or addiction issues and to connect them with the resources they need. 

So much of what Gathering for Women does is about making connections, says Alziebler-Perkins, and as a volunteer-driven organization, that includes building community connections to help run its programs and provide services.

Last spring, when grocery shelves were temporarily emptied and demand on local food banks soared, the nonprofit reached out to local restaurants and the Del Monte Farmer’s Market for support. The help of those local businesses was vitally important at a critical moment and established ongoing partnerships to support Gathering for Women in the future.

In 2020, more than 400 individual women received services through Gathering for Women, with 1,328 case management visits, 16,007 take-away meals, 1,855 clothes closet visits and 2,284 showers. In partnership with other homeless service providers, 40 guests were housed in temporary shelters and 13 found permanent housing. A dozen guests found new employment opportunities.

And on March 21, Gathering for Women will host a virtual grand opening for Casa de Noche Buena, a newly opened shelter for homeless women and families. The result of a partnership between Gathering for Women and Community Human Services, the Seaside facility provides safe temporary housing for single women and families with children for up to 90 days, along with access to health, mental health and substance abuse services and linkages to income, employment, education and housing, with the goal of helping guests obtain permanent housing.

While COVID-19 has altered some ways in which Gathering for Women serves the community, the Day Center traditionally offers a wide range of enrichment opportunities for its guests to build wellness and self-esteem, from interviewing and resume building workshops to chair yoga, Zumba, mindfulness, and art. Even in the pandemic, Gathering for Women continues to find new ways to build women up: Last fall, paintings created during a bi-weekly art workshop for Gathering for Women guests were showcased in an art fair alongside works donated by professional artists. One participant raised enough money from her art sales to pay for a costly truck repair. And above all, the art show helped participants reclaim a sense of identity as artists, creators and women with unique voices, histories and hopes.

That’s central to the organization’s mission: “We want to make sure that they know that they are women first,” said Alziebler-Perkins. “We show it in everything we do — we treat them with the dignity they deserve.”

By also featuring the first-person stories, self-portraits and recordings of its guests on its website, Gathering for Women gives a voice to women who are all too often dismissed or invisible to society. For its work, Gathering for Woman was recognized by Sen. Bill Monning as his 2020 Nonprofit of the Year.

No one knows exactly how many women are currently unsheltered in Monterey County, and due to the pandemic, the Coalition of Homeless Service Providers canceled the 2021 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which helps to measure the prevalence of homelessness in the region and collect information on the needs of individuals and families.

Moving forward, Gathering for Women looks to give even greater voice to those overlooked women as it joins MBEP’s membership and becomes more involved in the advocacy and policy work surrounding housing and homelessness. An ad hoc advocacy committee has been created to guide the nonprofit’s work to affect change on a systemic level, Alziebler-Perkins said.

And Gathering for Women will continue to build relationships with the women it serves, work for change and celebrate successes. Those are challenging tasks, but there are plenty of success stories, like the chronically homeless woman who was one of Gathering for Women’s first clients and now, at age 74, has recently moved into permanent housing.

“I know that there’s a growing need for what we’re doing and that there’s a need for more ‘housing-first’ solutions like we’re doing in Seaside,” said Alziebler-Perkins.” I think the biggest thing to know is that it could happen to anyone. We need to find a way to fix this crisis before it gets worse, because once you’re chronically homeless, it’s particularly hard to get out of homelessness when a  studio apartment is $1,500.

Pacific Valley Bank: Adapting to Meet the Needs of Monterey County’s Business Community

In challenging times for so many small businesses, Pacific Valley Bank is finding ways to adapt to their changing needs. That’s because supporting local business is at the heart of its mission.

Small businesses are struggling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, so when the first round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding opened in April 2020, the Salinas-based bank was one of the few banks that chose to accept PPP loan applications from throughout the local business community, sharing its expertise and resources of its lending team with the broader business community rather than limiting those services to its own banking customers. By doing so, it deployed close to $85 million into the local community through those PPP loans, said Pacific Valley Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sandi Eason, an infusion of emergency funding that helped save about 3,000 jobs.

Being a small local bank gives Pacific Valley Bank more flexibility to adapt to evolving conditions and respond nimbly to the regulatory changes in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, said Eason. In order to help local business owners prepare for the third round of PPP funding, Pacific Valley Bank set up preregistration portals so that they could begin submitting documentation.

Eason joined Pacific Valley Bank in December 2020 after a long career with other financial institutions in the Monterey Bay region, and she currently serves on MBEP’s board of directors. Her family dates back four generations in Monterey County, and President/Chief Executive Officer Anker Fanoe also has deep roots in the southern Monterey County region, as do most of the bank’s leadership team and staff. There’s a deep commitment to the region’s well-being, not only through banking services but by the support of a wide range of local nonprofits and community-based organizations. Pacific Valley Bank’s membership in MBEP is yet one more way to help build up the community.


Mary Mejia, Assistant Branch Manager of Pacific Valley Bank’s Salinas branch. Photo courtesy of Pacific Valley Bank.

“The team that works for Pacific Valley Bank is a team that lives in the community and puts in 100 percent here,” said Eason. “Everything that we do is Monterey County-centric — the time that we donate, the resources that we donate — it’s 100 percent Monterey County.”

As vaccines are being rolled out and people can begin to envision a return to more normal times, Eason offers encouragement to local business owners.

“Outside of PPP, we have a ton of resources and are ready to lend on a conventional level and put the money back into the community,” Eason said. “As a bank, we were born in this community, raised in this community, and we are a Monterey County-based bank,” said Eason. “In tough times and in better times, we have never stopped lending, and we will be there.”

Founded in 2004 by a group of local investors who saw a need for a truly local community bank, Pacific Valley Bank remains closely attuned to the unique needs of Monterey County businesses, including agriculture, the county’s largest industry. As such, the bank has a leading role in supporting ag innovation in a rapidly-evolving sector. In the past few years, Pacific Valley Bank has branched out to serve Monterey County’s burgeoning marijuana industry. From growers to a wide range of ancillary businesses, those ventures generate healthy tax revenues for local municipalities and create local jobs, yet they have struggled to obtain financing from traditional financial institutions, said Eason. Serving that need is yet another way in which Pacific Valley Bank is committed to supporting this community and helping it thrive.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District: Rethinking and Redesigning Learning for Student Success

As one of the largest school districts in the Monterey Bay region, MBEP’s newest member Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) has a robust school program built on its mission to educate and support learners in reaching their highest potential. This means preparing students for highly-skilled, high-wage careers in high-demand, locally relevant fields, such as sustainable agriculture, biotechnology, systems programming, and graphic design. PVUSD identified those as its CTE Signature Pathways, part of its Career & Technical Education (CTE) program designed to provide opportunities to acquire professional career and technical skills, earn certifications, and access work-based learning experiences.

Supported by California’s K12 Strong Workforce Program (K12 SWP), which allocated $150 million on an annual and ongoing basis, PVUSD was able to launch the Signature Pathway Biotechnology at Aptos High School and Graphic Design Pathway at Renaissance High School this year.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District is focused on creating collaborative and fluid learning environments that lead to not only a strong academic and literacy foundation, but also multiple social-emotional competencies, inclusive school culture, and climate, success in life including college and career, and development of the whole child. Read more


MBEP Member Spotlight: Community Foundation for Monterey County: 75 Years of Inspiring Philanthropy

Helping connect donors with their passions: It’s at the heart of the Community Foundation for Monterey County’s mission.

Through its grantmaking, the organization serves as a catalyst for strengthening communities in the county: Last year, grants totaling a record-setting $19.2 million were awarded to more than 890 nonprofit organizations, thanks to the individuals, families and businesses who work with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to create charitable funds. Those grants fund critical needs and causes in the Monterey region and beyond: helping inspire and educate young artists and musicians, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, improving literacy, caring for animals, protecting the environment, and helping students fund a college education.

Since granting began in the 1980s, more than $205 million has been invested in programs and causes that contribute to more vibrant, healthy, safe communities.

Initially founded in 1945 as the “Monterey Foundation” by S.F.B. Morse, Francis Elkins, Margaret Jacks, Robinson Jeffers, Armin Hansen and other notable community members to preserve Monterey’s historic adobes, the Community Foundation for Monterey County expanded its scope to open space preservation and then broad charitable purposes and building endowment in the 1970s. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, the organization has grown to more than $291 million in charitable assets and is ranked among the Top 100 community foundations in the U.S. based on asset size.

The Community Foundation for Monterey County also works to build up nonprofits through its Center for Nonprofit Excellence and has taken a leadership role in bringing organizations together around issues such as the 2020 Census, affordable housing and homelessness.

In addition to allocating more than $500,000 to 19 local nonprofit organizations doing grassroots work to encourage hard-to-count communities to participate in the upcoming 2020 Census, the Community Foundation has worked to convene and educate nonprofits on their role in the census.

“Not counting someone doesn’t mean they’re not here. Loss of funding because of undercounting means California and Monterey County won’t have resources to implement programs for the full complement of people in need,” said Dan Baldwin, CFMC President/CEO. “The issue is being counted, one and all, and making sure Monterey County has the resources it needs to serve its residents.”

The organization continues to partner with the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation to build on the success of MBEP’s housing initiative. In 2018, the Community Foundation for Monterey County granted $50,000 toward MBEP’s affordable housing efforts, with additional investments of $100,000 over the next two years.

To commemorate the Community Foundation for Monterey County’s 75th year of inspiring philanthropy and strengthening communities, a Celebration of Philanthropy will take place Oct. 23, 2020 at the Monterey Conference Center. Learn more www.cfmco.org/AboutUs

First Community Housing: Putting the Needs of Residents at the Center of Its Focuses

Residents moving into the new Salinas Gateway Senior Apartments six years ago got so much more than keys to their new apartments. Along with a permanent place to live, they received community, mobility and a sense of belonging.

That’s because, for new MBEP member First Community Housing, the nonprofit public benefit housing development corporation that created the project, housing is just the start. The goal, says First Community Housing President and CEO Geoffrey Morgan, is to address needs that help create quality of life.

With 20 affordable rental housing developments and more than 1,400 units in the greater San Francisco Bay area and an additional 800 units in the pipeline, First Community Housing has deep roots when it comes to meeting the needs of low-income populations, including individuals, families, senior citizens and those with special needs like chronic and mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Read more

MBEP Member Spotlight: Monterey Bay Aquarium Takes Action to Encourage Policies to Reduce Plastic Pollution

The problem with plastic is that is never just goes away. Since 1950, more than 6 billion tons of plastic have been discarded, and according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, just nine percent of that has been recycled. The average American generates more than 270 pounds of plastic trash per year — one of the highest rates in the world — and every nine minutes, plastic weighing as much as a blue whale (about 300,000 pounds) ends up in the ocean, where it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces of microplastic particles.

A recent study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute documented that microplastic is disturbingly common throughout Monterey Bay, from the ocean’s surface to the seafloor, and may be entering marine food webs, both at the surface and in the deep. Most of that microplastic came from consumer products like plastic water bottles, take-out food containers and product packaging — the everyday stuff we buy, use once and throw away.

A leading proponent for a cleaner future, the Monterey Bay Aquarium continues to encourage policies to reduce plastic production, from California’s successful ballot referendum banning single-use carryout bags to the Straws On Request bill requiring restaurants to only provide straws to people who specifically ask for them. Currently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is urging support for the California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (SB 54), which sets a target of reducing 75 percent of packaging waste—and the most polluting single-use plastic products—by 2030. And it sets criteria to make sure that what remains is increasingly recycled or composted. Learn more about the California Plastic Pollution Reduction Act and the Aquarium’s efforts to tackle ocean plastic pollution.

Pictured above, microplastic particles are being eaten by animals such as pelagic red crabs and incorporated into marine food webs. News and photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium.

MBEP Member Spotlight: Greenpower Energizes Climate Change Action

When Greenpower launched four years ago, its mission was a straightforward one: Fighting climate change. With that clear goal – helping communities transition from fossil fuels in favor of local clean energy solutions – the group has mobilized significant change toward a greener Monterey Bay region.

Created as an initiative of the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Romero Institute, Greenpower launched into its first campaign by focusing on public education and community organizing. That initial campaign was tied to the launch of Monterey Bay Community Power, a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program that put energy into the hands of local communities. To mobilize support, Greenpower officials went door to door to educate residents and partnered with local community groups, including the Catholic church, to create a grassroots movement in primarily Spanish-language communities.

Over a two-year span, Greenpower met with close to 20,000 parishioners on the issue of climate change, collected 6,000 letters, helped generate several thousand emails to elected officials and helped mobilize more than 400 community members to attend council meetings, all in support of Monterey Bay Community Power, while also reaching out to elected representatives to help them fully understand local energy options. Those actions, says Greenpower Director Ben Eichert, ultimately resulted in the adoption of the Monterey Bay Community Power to provide locally-controlled carbon-free and renewable electricity to residents and businesses throughout Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. Since then, parts of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have embraced the community choice model.

“Really, it’s about engagement with the community around issues of climate change at all levels, from activists to business leaders to elected representatives,” said Eichert.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ climate treatise on the moral obligation to fight climate change and its partnership with Greenpower, the Catholic Diocese of Monterey sought the nonprofit’s guidance in greening its parishes and schools. So far, 18 parishes and schools in the diocese have enacted eco-friendly measures, with more coming online in the next year. Greenpower’s role, says Eichert, has been “to bring together the partnerships and resources, equip stakeholders with the tools they need to figure out what they want to do and help them understand their options.”

“Part of what we’re doing is really trying to inspire,” says Eichert. “When we work with a business or nonprofit, we are choosing projects that we think have the ability to motivate others.”

The San Benito Health Foundation was such a project. MBEP member San Benito Health Foundation was already committed to making a bold change, but Greenpower helped it fully understand all its options and choose those best suited to its needs and goals. With Greenpower’s support, the Hollister-based clinic in August 2019 became the first healthcare facility in the state to run on its own zero-carbon microgrid.

“We chose it as a project to do because of its ability to show people what’s possible,” said Eichert. “Part of what we do is when we are working with someone, we’re actively trying to inspire them to take bold action.” Creating public awareness around those projects – through the making of a video, a ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracts news coverage, and other educational efforts – are essential steps to increase public awareness.

Greenpower continues to work with established organizations, local businesses, and the agricultural communities to take them solar and improve their energy efficiency.

“On the issue of climate change, the scholarship and the science is clear: We’re facing a crisis,” says Eichert. “The technology to do something about it is accessible, but what’s missing is the political will. Our mission is to help create the will necessary for communities to make that transition.”

MBEP Member Spotlight: Bay Federal Credit Union

Bay Federal Credit Union: Making a Difference

The staff of the Capitola branch of Bay Federal Credit Union pose for a photo with the credit union’s administrative staff after Wednesday’s weekly meeting and training. In September Bay Federal was honored with Credit Union Journal’s 2019 award for Best Credit Union to Work For. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Bay Federal Credit Union’s branch offices were transformed last month into unicorn playgrounds, feasting halls for horn-helmeted Viking, Jurassic-era caves roaming with dinosaurs, even gunslinger scenes right out of the Wild West. From Cruella de Vil and her dalmatians to time travelers and the Scoobie Doo squad, the staff and offices transform each year at Halloween for one of the region’s most enthusiastic competitions, with costumes, decorating and all-out performances.

The employees – and the credit union members who come to bank there – have an absolute blast.

It’s an attitude that doesn’t just come once a year: The Capitola-based not-for-profit financial cooperative was recently named 2019’s “Best Credit Union to Work For” in Credit Union Journal’s ranking of the top 50 institutions across the country, based on a review of employers’ benefits, workplace policies and practices, and extensive employee surveys.

A workplace culture where employees look forward to coming to work and enjoy each other’s company didn’t just happen by accident.

“Our whole mission is centered around creating a culture of employees that are excited over getting up in the morning, excited about improving our members’ financial lives,” says President and CEO Carrie Birkhofer, who also serves on MBEP’s Board of Directors. “It takes focus and persistence, and it’s important to be very purposeful over what you want in a culture.”

As a member-owned financial institution, Bay Federal Credit Union is indeed making a difference, serving the needs of 77,000 members and 1,200 local businesses throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties and reinvesting back into the community it serves. “The money that people deposit, we turn around and lend it out into the community,” says Birkhofer.

Its 225 employees make a positive impact on the region through an award-winning employee volunteer program that benefits numerous local schools, nonprofit organizations, and community events each year. For example, this past spring, Bay Federal Credit Union employees raised $11,055.33 in their annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraiser, and credit union members and employees raised $11,285 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County through the credit union’s 28th annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake pledge drive.

Next year, Bay Federal Credit Union will start offering business loans, with the eventual goal of becoming an SBA lender. It also plans to add real estate business loans, enhance its credit card rewards and re-launch a new home equity line of credit program. “People could use home equity loans to build ADUs, a small unit in the back of their house, to increase the housing supply,” says Birkhofer.  “We’re trying to fill a niche that some of the larger banks don’t fill.”

A new Salinas branch office is the first step of an expansion into Monterey County, and the financial institution is continuously investing in its mobile technology platform, “so that members can engage with us wherever they are,” says Birkhofer,

Earlier this year, Bay Federal Credit Union achieved another noteworthy milestone when it surpassed $1 billion in assets, proving that an organization can indeed do good while still doing well. After all, you can’t get much nicer than handing out ice cream during the recent PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff, which is exactly what Bay Federal Credit Union did for its members and neighbors.

It comes down to community.

“If you allow employees to be seen for who they are and recognize their creative talents, you can see amazing things happen in your business. People want to feel like they make a difference.”


MBEP Member Spotlight: Gavilan College Celebrates Past, Looks Forward

It’s been 100 years since Gavilan College was founded as San Benito County Junior College. Much has changed in a century, including its name, a move from Hollister to Gilroy, growth in student enrollment and programs, satellite sites in Hollister and Morgan Hill and an aviation technology site in San Martin. Two years ago, the first phase of the Coyote Valley Center in San Jose opened as home to the South Bay Public Safety Training Consortium police and fire academies. Land has been purchased and planning is underway for the first phase of a San Benito County campus at Fairview corners.

Gavilan College’s legacy was celebrated this fall when the college hosted “Gavilan Through The Decades,” a nostalgic gala celebrating each decade of Gavilan’s history.

But Gavilan is also looking forward, fueled by the passage of Measure X in November 2018. Funding from that $248 million bond measure will allow Gavilan to repair and upgrade facilities from leaky roofs and faulty electrical systems, upgrade and add classrooms, expand veterans’ services, and create up-to-date STEM and research environments. And throughout that growth, the college is adapting to the needs of those it serves.

“We are listening very acutely to the needs of our students,” says Gavilan College Superintendent/President Kathleen A. Rose, who has spent the past year engaging with students in a year-long outreach focused on “Student Voices.” This fall, she hosted a “Coffee & Conversation” series with students, and is preparing for a series of high school forums that will take place next spring. “Students are at the center of this,” says Rose.

Last year, Gavilan finalized its Facilities Master Plan, which supports the Educational Master Plan developed in 2017 and serves as a guide focusing on the facilities required to respond to anticipated growth across its 2,700-square-mile district. The first of five key facilities projects outlined is construction of the San Benito Center.

“With the passage of Measure X a year ago,” says Rose, “we want the communities we serve to continually be engaged in the work of this district and the growth of this district.”

Rose has also worked to build upon opportunities for partnerships with universities, industries, and organizations, including MBEP. “We’re very happy with our membership with MBEP,” said Rose. “Our interest in our membership with MBEP is for us to be a stronger economic partner in the region.”

Next April, Gavilan will host its first-ever Economic Symposium, opening up critical conversations about quality of life and how education helps drive that, says Rose. “I think community college is where those conversations need to happen,” she says.

“Our centennial is truly about celebrating history, where Gavilan will be going, but it’s also about having conversations about where we are at the present day and the challenges for our students, including housing and food insecurity.”

This fall, Gavilan launched a new career education pathway with the opening of its HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) Center, and interest in its aircraft maintenance program has seen an uptick in enrollment, bolstered by strong partnerships with San Jose International Airport, United and Alaska Airlines. A construction management program will launch next spring. A wide range of distance education programs also makes college accessible, and the California Promise which allows first-time students to attend tuition-free, is opening new doors.

“The sky’s really the limit, literally and figuratively, in community college education,” says Rose.  “It’s such an exciting time to be working in higher education. It’s really a privilege to do this work because it works.”

MBEP Member Spotlight: Monterey County Housing Authority Development Corporation (HDC)

When the doors opened last fall on an affordable housing rental community known as Hikari, it brought 50 much-needed rental units to Salinas. The impact of the Monterey County Housing Authority Development Corp.’s project extends far beyond those walls: Hikari was the completion of a six-year, four-phase development that added 200 energy-efficient rental units to the region. Over those six years, Haciendas Place I and II and the Dai-Ichi Village projects collectively brought more than $75 million to the local economy, generated more than 1,000 well-paying construction jobs and helped spur revitalization of the Chinatown district. What’s more, it ventured into new territory for affordable housing: The use of modular construction to drastically reduce costs and speed up production, and incorporating energy efficiencies and sustainable building practices. And they provided stability and dignity for some of the region’s most vulnerable populations, including senior citizens.

Since its inception, Monterey County Housing Authority Development Corp. has developed  1,550 units of new construction in Monterey County and 150 in San Luis Obispo County, with another 150 currently under construction and 300 in the pipeline. The consulting expertise of the Monterey County Housing Authority Development Corp. has proven invaluable to housing authorities and affordable housing developers in the Monterey Bay region and across the country. “Other housing authorities would like to use our model for repositioning public housing,” says President/CEO Starla Warren. “They don’t have the development capacity or experience necessary.”

Developing affordable housing in one of the country’s least affordable markets comes with unique challenges along with a need for cutting-edge solutions, says Warren. While modular units – prefabricated in Idaho and shipped nearly complete to Salinas – significantly reduced costs and helped avoid weather-related construction delays, finding contractors and qualified tradesmen with modular experience proved difficult..”Modular is probably going to be a strong wave for the future and can contribute to the adding to the supply of affordable housing, so people need to figure out how to make that recipe work,” says Warren.

“It’s a very challenging effort, and not just challenging but ever-changing,” says Warren. “You continually have to think outside of the box, make new boxes, make new squares, You have to be willing and open to finding new ways to deliver.”

MBEP Member Spotlight: San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista is glad to join the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership as a member. The City is celebrating its 150 birthday this year and what a great time to come and visit for one of its many special events. The streets were clean and beautiful for the Sesquicentennial parade Sept. 7th. Fourth graders resumed their visits to the San Juan Bautista Mission. The State Historic Park has a new superintendent, and the park’s Pear Orchard on Third Street has been completely renovated. The fall season brings Dia De Las Muertos celebrations, December includes El Teatro Campesino’s “La Virgen Del Tepeyac” and many other holiday performances, and the Holiday Parade is Dec. 7.

The San Juan Committee, representing 138 businesses and property owners, continues to work hard at promoting the City of History and its 70 special and ongoing annual events. The City is advertising in VIA Magazine and has recently been featured in “thetravel.com” as the second-best “underrated” city on the West Coast.

The City hired new City Manager Don Reynolds July 2, who left the City of Salinas after serving 16 years. He has initiated two key studies of the city’s water and wastewater systems. Code enforcement and street sweeping have also resumed. Maintaining history is an everyday chore, but pays off dividends as the number of regular visitors continues to increase. The Posada De San Juan and the Hacienda De Leal hotels are busier than ever!

The City hosted an MBEP Housing mixer Sept. 19, attracting 30 or so stakeholders from around the region. On Oct. 8, the City adopted its new Housing Element. The City is poised now to pursue three different state grants to help plan for the future of affordable housing, transportation and infrastructure needs.

Come and enjoy the city’s rich history and participate in planning its future!

– Cesar Flores, Mayor, and Don Reynolds, City Manager

MBEP Member Spotlight: Joby Aviation

MBEP member Joby Aviation is bringing some big new ideas about what’s possible in transportation in the Monterey Bay Region and beyond. As a growing number of metropolitan areas struggle with high traffic density, long commute times and ground infrastructure that isn’t keeping up with demand, the 10-year-old aerospace company is developing and commercializing an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft to provide a safe, quiet, and affordable air-taxi service to revolutionize how people commute in dense urban environments. “Our goal is to save a billion people an hour a day,” says Joby Aviation’s Sustainability Manager Amy Gross.

The company is currently hiring for many positions in preparation for its production launch in Marina and, over the next year, intends to recruit, hire and train for a wide variety of positions.

“Joby Aviation is excited to establish production and operations of our unique and environmentally friendly aircraft in Marina,” says Gross. “Our company will create hundreds of jobs in the coming years as we grow our facilities at the Marina Municipal Airport. From design engineering to production technicians to business office functions and all supporting services, Joby will be the high-tech anchor in Monterey County, bringing with us hundreds of jobs both internally and externally.”
Gross said she anticipates much collaboration with industry, academia, and government in the region, as Joby establishes itself as a positive presence in the Monterey Bay community.”

Read more about Joby Aviation in a recent Bloomberg article here.

MBEP Member Spotlight: Transportation Agency for Monterey County

If it’s about transportation in Monterey County, or rethinking the county’s transportation network, there’s a pretty good chance the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) has a key role in it. The agency oversees a multi-modal transportation network that includes highway, local road, bicycle, pedestrian, and trail projects, with funding from a number of sources, including local, state and federal funds. So that includes everything from freeway tow trucks, call boxes and emergency ride home programs to roundabouts, highway safety, regional trails and safe routes to school projects.

​Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) Executive Director Debbie Hale jokes that her office gets calls for everything from bus service (wrong agency – in Monterey County, that would be Monterey Salinas Transit), and tax inquiries (the building once housed the Internal Revenue Service) to people trying to reach county offices, despite the fact that TAMC is actually a state-designated stand-alone agency. So just what does TAMC do?

Lots of things that significantly impact quality of life in the region, including funding and roundabout education for the Holman Highway 68 Roundabout. Completed two years ago, the project relieved traffic congestion at the busy intersection of Holman Highway 68, Highway 1 ramps and 17 Mile Drive near the entrance to Pebble Beach and the Community Hospital. Backed by a multi-agency public-private partnership, the project has improved traffic safety while minimizing delays of emergency vehicles.

“That was an amazing project that had a lot of resistance, but at the end of the day, it was very successful and changed public perception,” said Hale.

Go831 is a free TAMC program that uses the 4 R’s of Transportation Demand Management  (Re-mode, Re-time, Reduce, Reroute) to improve travel without widening roads. Designed to support employer-based commuter programs, Go831 provides the resources, technology, and tools to help get cars off the road and out of parking lots during peak traffic hours. MBEP is working closely with TAMC to support and promote the program. “One of the areas that we’ve been coordinating a lot with MBEP is our Go831,” says Hale. “MBEP is very much involved in that and recognizes how important transportation is to our region.”

One of the more “bold and innovative” projects TAMC has recently assisted with, says Hale, is the City of Monterey’s North Fremont Bike and Pedestrian Access and Safety Improvements Project. The $9.4 million project, a collaboration between CalTrans, TAMC, Measure P/S and Measure X funds, and Monterey’s Neighborhood Improvement Program, brought state-of-the-art technology in the form of smart traffic signals that adapt to real-time conditions so as to minimize delays through the corridor and adjacent streets. A Class IV protected bike lane in the median is the first in California, a design that other cities are closely studying as a way to create safer multi-modal transportation systems. And while the project has upgraded the aesthetics of North Fremont Street, it also significantly improved safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

Hale applauds the City of Monterey for its vision. “We like to support that kind of innovation,” said Hale. “It’s a really great project, and we were so pleased to be able to help fund it.”

Transportation planning includes rethinking everything from when people drive to perceptions of how the roads could actually being used, and those possibilities are exciting, says Hale.

TAMC recently hosted popup demonstrations near traffic-congested schools in Seaside and Marina, and Salinas will be next.  The popups – which use impermanent features such as purple paint, plants and traffic cones — are an innovative, temporary way to test out options to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists,

One of TAMC’s biggest roles right now, says Hale, is fulfilling the promises of its Transportation Safety & Investment Plan, the transportation bond measure that created a 3/8 percent sales tax for transportation improvements in Monterey County. “This community trusted us by passing Measure X, so one of the things we’re doing is fulfilling that promise by helping to make improvements in local communities, and making sure we’re delivering on the regional safety project.”

MBEP Member Spotlight: City of Seaside

Seaside, the largest and most culturally diverse city on the Monterey Peninsula, has been quietly re-engineering its image in the past few years. No longer dwelling on the past, this MBEP member is simply poised to reinvent itself.

Here are the top things you should consider about the (near) future of Seaside, says Assistant City Manager Lesley Milton-Rerig:

Acknowledge history, then fugettabout it. Yes, the entire area was impacted by the loss of the former Fort Ord in 1993, Seaside is now developing abandoned land with unique projects like Campus Town, Main Gate, Seaside Senior Living facility – projects that benefit the entire community.

CSUMB – an intellectual incubator helping create an educated workforce. Seaside has been working with the university to help strengthen the relationship among the institution, students and community. And the Sustainable Cities Program and Service Learning Program places students with the City to develop projects while a proposed Transient Occupancy Tax-funded scholarship could benefit Seaside residents graduating from high school.

Broadway: Seaside’s downtown reinvention. An $8 million investment has now seen a slew of car shows and creative community gatherings like a Zombie Prom and Exotics On Broadway, (which had over 20,000 attendees), not to mention new restaurants, a swanky new coffee shop and recording studio, and a highly anticipated craft brewery. Just wait until the catalyst upper Broadway development, the proposed Ascent project, a 110-unit mixed-use development kicks off development further up the street.

Parks and Public Spaces. You can hike, bike, walk, swim, or jungle gym. Touting the best weather on the Peninsula, we suggest you play outside at the city’s newly renovated multi-use field at Cutino Park. The astroturf field can be used for football, baseball, soccer or even futsol.

Field play not your thing? Check out Seaside’s first skate park that has been dubbed by local skate groms as the best in the region.

Finally, and most importantly, everyone is welcome. Seaside’s city motto is to “Include, Innovate, Inspire.” “If that doesn’t sell us as the most accepting, diverse, creative and fun city on the Peninsula,” says Milton-Rerig, “I’m not sure what you are looking for.”

Take the time to rethink Seaside!

MBEP Member Spotlight: San Benito Health Foundation Invests in Preparedness, Sustainability

San Benito Health Foundation may be a small nonprofit but it’s got a big role in regional well-being: Since 1975, this MBEP member been providing a range of medical and dental services, from immunizations and breast-feeding counseling to health screenings and behavioral health services to San Benito County-area residents, regardless of ability to pay.

Now, the Hollister health clinic is about to celebrate a landmark transition: Its headquarters have just become California’s first 100 percent carbon-neutral, solar, fully sustainable and resilient healthcare facility.

To make it happen, San Benito Health Foundation CEO Rosa Vivian Fernández formed partnerships with Greenpower, a division of Santa Cruz nonprofit the Romero Institute, and the Aromas Progressive Action League (APAL) to help manage her organization’s transition to become fully energy independent and resilient in case of a natural disaster.

“Access to quality healthcare becomes especially important during times of darkness, uncertainty or disaster,” said Fernández. “We have been preparing for the eventuality that disasters could cut us off from the grid for days, maybe weeks, by taking all the necessary steps to ensure we will be here for our patients, no matter what.”

Fernández had already decided to address sustainability but a visit to her home territory of Puerto Rico in 2017 — where she saw the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — inspired her to further address disaster resilience. “I saw families devastated and without access to basic services and needs. I told myself I would never let that happen to the people who depend on SBHF. I also wanted to find a way for my organization to have a positive impact for our climate,” Fernández said.

Over the past year, new solar panels, retrofitted lighting, an ultra-efficient HVAC system, and a bioethanol generator have turned San Benito Health Foundation into the first clinic in California powered by its microgrid.

“It’s exciting and we hope that this will serve as a model for other community health centers throughout the region, throughout the state and nationally,” said Fernández. “And to those communities in Puerto Rico that are still struggling through power outages.”

The community celebrated these important improvements to regional well-being with an open house and ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, Aug. 14 featuring special guest Congressmember Jimmy Panetta and community leaders. The event included guided tours of the newly renovated health center, food, entertainment and activities for all ages. The health center will also host a Community Open House from 3-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 as part of National Health Center Week, which recognizes the contributions of community, migrant, homeless and public housing centers in promoting health and prevention. chance to learn more about the many services and programs available. Learn more

MBEP Member Spotlight: City of Pacific Grove

Like other cities across the Monterey Peninsula, the City of Pacific Grove is grappling with the challenges created by high housing costs. A key goal for the city is to add affordable housing, says Mayor Bill Peake. Ideally, housing is located near work, reducing traffic and its carbon emissions and ultimately improving quality of life. Current city efforts are headed in two directions: City-sponsored affordable housing and city incentives for private development. Such a project would require a partnership with a developer, with the city providing land, water, and possibly funding. The other effort, city incentives, involves new regulations such as an inclusionary housing ordinance and loosening accessory dwelling unit restrictions. The inclusionary housing ordinance would encourage higher housing densities to make adding affordable housing units cost-neutral for private developers. As an MBEP member, the City of Pacific Grove is working in partnership with MBEP to achieve those affordable housing goals.

Another key goal for the City of Pacific Grove is to reduce single-use plastics as much as possible, says Peake. “Our community has a long-standing desire to improve our environment and keep the bay pristine,” he said. “The City’s environmental program manager is working with the city’s Beautification and Natural Resources Committee to develop new regulations to move us in the direction of eliminating single-use plastics in retail businesses, particularly for food containers. Other community organizations are partnering with the city in this effort: The Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Regional Waste Management District and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.”

The goal will require a dedicated, longterm coordinated effort by businesses and residents to make it work, says Peake, but there is significant support throughout the community to make it succeed.

Member Spotlight: California Manufacturing Technology Consulting

One of MBEP’s newest members, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) is taking an important role in helping shape California’s future. As a provider of technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs), its primary goal is to promote manufacturing growth leading to an increase in high-paying manufacturing jobs.

It’s vitally important to California’s economy, says CMTC President and CEO James Watson, that small manufacturers increase their productivity and competitiveness, as they comprise 75 percent of the state’s manufacturing establishments.

Yet, SMMs are facing challenges in finding qualified candidates to fill manufacturing jobs, keeping pace with technological demands and industry automation advancements. “Many manufacturers don’t have the necessary resources to meet these challenges,” says Watson. “We’re here to help.”

Through partnerships with universities, community colleges, Workforce Development Boards and nonprofits across the state, CMTC and its partners are working together to identify workforce needs and connect skilled workers with middle-skills and digital-skills manufacturing jobs.

When it comes to building a future workforce, industry perception matters. That’s why, each October, CMTC partners with manufacturers across California to open their facilities to the public, one day each year as part of Manufacturing Day, to show students what today’s manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. Once those students step out on the manufacturing floor, see the technology and opportunity in today’s manufacturing businesses, they have a completely different perception of the industry. This year, the Oct. 4 event will be just the beginning of a monthlong campaign of manufacturing events.

Technology is the most significant change affecting manufacturing, yet the need to remain competitive via automation can overwhelm business owners. “The whole concept of how to select the appropriate form of automation that will integrate into their operation can be an issue,” says Watson. “Workforce and technology work hand in hand — you can’t upgrade your plant’s automation without a skilled workforce.”

To help alleviate the technology challenges, CMTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technologies team, works to strategically build advanced technology roadmaps for manufacturers while addressing workforce needs, access to capital and automation options. “Technology adoption is a strategic decision,” says Watson. “If planned properly automation will increase productivity and stimulate business growth.”

As an MBEP member, CMTC is making inroads across the Monterey Bay region to foster technology adoption, leverage organizations to further advance workforce development and share the message of an industry sector with high wage jobs.

“Manufacturing is transforming at light speed,” says Watson. “It’s not smokestacks and slippery floors. We want people to understand that manufacturing is important to the economy of our state and we still have a lot of work to do.”

For more information, contact Christina Chavez Wyatt.

Photos courtesy of California Manufacturing Technology Consulting. Manufacturing Day, an annual event started in 2012, is designed to inspire and recruit the next generation of manufacturers.

Member Spotlight: Poly Helps People Connect
Already a global leader in the communications technology realm, MBEP member Poly is moving forward into exciting new territory. Founded as Plantronics in 1961 by two airline pilots to build headsets, the Santa Cruz-based company acquired Polycom in March 2018 for about $2 billion. Now, the company has just rebranded as Poly, named for the Greek word for “many.” Poly President and CEO Joe Burton recently explained the story behind the new Poly name in an interview at Enterprise Connect 2019: “Many kinds of communication, many people, the power of many. Many ways of interacting.”

“We see limitless opportunity for how people communicate and collaborate today,” said Burton. “With advancements in AI, machine learning and new technologies, we see a future where Poly makes the connection, then quietly steps out of the way to become the one thing you don’t notice in the meeting.” Read more about the rebranding and areas of innovation here.

Member Spotlight: Mann Packing Keeps Innovating
Who says you can’t play with your food? MBEP member Mann Packing has built its reputation on doing just that, transforming vegetables into tantalizing, tasty fun, and in the process finding ways to get consumers to enjoy eating what’s good for them. Its “Mann, That’s Easy!” blog educates and entertains, while on social media, the company offers mouthwatering recipes that inspire us to get cooking. Even before the company created Sweet Potato “Fettuccini” and Cauliflower “Rice,” its Broccoli Wokly, Stringless Sugar Snap Peas and Broccoli Cole Slaw were taking the prep work out of the equation, reinventing how we use vegetables and making healthful snacking fun.

Mann Packing’s popular Nourish Bowls®  was a first-of-its-kind product, and the line has continued to evolve. “We introduced those back in 2016 in four flavors,” says Loree Dowse, director of Creative Marketing. “We actually like to say we created the warm vegetable meal segment in the produce department.” Two flavors of Nourish Bowls Breakfast, microwavable meals that create high-protein breakfasts with the addition of eggs, were introduced in January.

The company’s newest sensation is a sweet, long-stemmed beauty that can be grown year-round in the Salinas Valley. Two years in the making, CAULILINI® baby cauliflower, as it’s known, is already making a splash among professional chefs for its mild taste, blonde, open florets and stems that turn bright green when cooked. CAULILINI® baby cauliflower has just been named Best New Product by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. Hundreds of news outlets have reported on the product in recent weeks, and the company’s phones are ringing off the hook with consumers wanting to know where to find it, says Dowse. The product will roll out to consumers in partnership with a major retailer in the coming months.

Behind all that creativity is a business making a difference in other ways as well. Mann Packing employs close to 600 people in Monterey County and had about $580 million in sales last year. It’s currently hiring for jobs at its state-of-the-art processing facility in Gonzales. As many as 200 new jobs could be created as a result of the new 130,00-square-foot facility. Shipping operations begin this month, and processing will begin there later this year.

Mann Packing is also dedicated to minimizing its environmental footprint: A 260-foot-tall wind turbine at the new Gonzales facility will provide 50-75 percent of the plant’s power during peak wind times, generating the equivalent power offset of 349 U.S.  homes and an estimated energy savings of $120,000-$210,000. Those offsets are equivalent to CO2 emissions from 371,672 gallons of gasoline burned, more than 3.5 million pounds of coal burned, or a year’s worth of energy use for 349 homes.

The third-generation family company was founded in 1939 and purchased by Del Monte Fresh Produce for $361 million last year.

Member Spotlight: City of Del Rey Oaks
Welcome to new MBEP member, the City of Del Rey Oaks, a city of just over 1,600 residents in the Monterey Peninsula sunbelt. City Manager Dino Pick says the city is well on the way to meeting compliance with state mandates to update its Housing Element, which identifies a city’s housing needs, establishes reasonable goals, objectives and policies based on those goals, and sets forth a comprehensive list of actions to achieve them. A housing element workshop earlier this month was well-attended and started the housing element update process. In order to do its part to help alleviate the statewide housing crisis, the city is nearing agreement on an exclusive negotiating agreement with a development team to develop the city’s Fort Ord property with an emphasis on housing.

The city continues to improve its transportation infrastructure including street rehabilitation, the design and construction of South Boundary Road, and the Fort Ord Regional Trail & Greenway Project, a proposed 27-mile recreational trail connecting parks and neighborhoods traversing multiple cities and unincorporated areas and connecting to the Monterey Bay Scenic Coastal trail.

In addition, Del Rey Oaks continues to work toward diversifying its cannabis business sector safely and in compliance with state county and municipal regulations. “On all of these fronts,” says Pick, “Monterey Bay Economic Partnership will be an important partner and we look forward to working with MBEP.”

Member Spotlight: Santa Cruz County Bank Celebrates 15 Years
Happy anniversary to Santa Cruz County Bank, which marked its 15th anniversary in a particularly sweet way: Celebrating its customers at its five banking offices last week and giving out free cookies and coffee. It’s just one of the many ways the locally owned and operated bank celebrates its role as a true community partner. Last year, employees donated more than 600 hours to community service, and branches support a different nonprofit each month. It’s a philosophy that was built into the bank’s inception in 2004, and that commitment has remained through the years and throughout the financial institution’s expansion.

“We wanted the community to be in the bank, not just another bank on the corner someplace,” Santa Cruz County Bank’s CEO David Heald told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “Our engagement within the community was important, if not as important as the overall financial performance of the bank.”

That overall financial performance is worth celebrating as well. With assets of $662 million in 2018 and eight successive years of record earnings, Santa Cruz County Bank is playing a major role in regional economic growth. Last year alone, the bank made $200 million in loans and it’s a top SBA lender in Santa Cruz County and the Silicon Valley.

“What we do every day supports the growth of the community,” says Santa Cruz County Bank Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Mary Anne Carson. “Our whole business structure is built to support our customer’s needs, and that in turn supports the community’s needs.” Read more.

News courtesy of Santa Cruz Sentinel, video produced by Lucid Sound and Picture.

Member Spotlight: Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce
Welcome to our newest MBEP member, the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to building economic vitality. The chamber officially celebrated its centennial in 2018, but its roots may date back to as early as 1904, says chamber CEO Paul Farmer. Since assuming that role since 2012, he’s overseen a 40 percent increase in the chamber’s revenue and membership, now comprised of more than 700 active members.

The Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce is riding the forefront of change, as chambers of commerce shift away from being primarily a source of information, community promoter and host of special events and ribbon-cuttings. That, says Farmer, is yesterday’s chamber. “Today’s successful chamber is a convener, catalyst and champion,” says Farmer. “As a convener, we bring together people who can solve challenges. As a catalyst, we help foment solutions. As a champion, we enlist support from residents, businesspeople and elected officials to bring about the success we have helped envision.”

For its efforts, the Salinas Valley Chamber has been honored by the Western Association of Chamber Executives two out of the past three years. The award, for visionary work leading communities, is presented to only five out of 850 members.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, the chamber hosted its biggest event of the year, as it honored exemplary individuals and businesses at its 98th annual Awards The luncheon was sponsored by Rabobank, at Sherwood Hall. Each of this year’s honorees help make for a more vibrant community. Says Farmer, “We like to say our Awards Luncheon is the one annual event we hold where ‘everybody comes because everybody goes.” Learn more.

To view more member stories, visit our Member Spotlight page.

Member Spotlight: S. Martinelli & Co.

Building Upon a Legacy, Martinelli’s Looks Toward the Future

The bright flavors of perfectly ripened apples – pressed into cider, distinctive apple-shaped juice bottles or celebration-ready sparkling ciders – are at the core of one of the Monterey Bay region’s most historic businesses. S. Martinelli & Co., a family-owned and -operated company and an MBEP member, is still based in Watsonville, the town in which it was founded more than 150 years ago.

Martinelli’s marked its sesquicentennial last year in a big way, rolling out a commemorative book and restoring a 1932 Ford Model B truck once used for company deliveries, reintroducing it for Watsonville’s Fourth of July parade, the Wharf to Wharf Race in Capitola and other events. And in a nod to its roots, the company debuted a hard cider, which was Martinelli’s original product in a pre-Prohibition era.

Behind all those years is a history of constant reinvention, says company President/CFO Gun Ruder: “We need to continuously improve and advance, but there’s no sense that we can rest on our laurels.”

That’s why working as an active MBEP partner on big regional issues is so important. “For us as a manufacturing company, having a workforce that’s educated and has the skillset to work in a more technologically advanced plant than we’ve ever had before is critical, and having those workers sustain a livelihood in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties is tough,” says Ruder. “These are all big issues for us, and we want to make sure we have a voice in the solution and add our perspective to help drive solutions for the region broadly.”

So while the company, which now sells its products in 44 countries, was publicly celebrating its milestone anniversary with an appearance on the “Megyn Kelly Today” show, it was also upgrading its infrastructure and investing in its own future: replacing a 30-year-old enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with new cutting-edge business process management software and going live with a new filtration system, the first of a three-phase modernization project that will soon bring two new high-speed production lines to the company’s West Beach facility.

For S. Martinelli & Co., 150 years are just the beginning. “We’re proud of where we’ve been,” says Ruder. “We’re in Watsonville for the long haul.”

Pictured from left, S. Martinelli & Co. President/CFO Gun Ruder and CEO John Martinelli. Photo courtesy of S. Martinelli & Co.

Member Spotlight: Northern California Carpenter's Regional Council
Welcome to our latest member: The Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, which is dedicated to improving the California building and construction trades industry, working conditions and the standard of living for workers, and building partnerships with employers, contractors and subcontractors by providing stability through a motivated, skilled workforce.

Last year’s massive bridge repair projects in Big Sur and California State University, Monterey Bay’s Student Union and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences buildings currently under construction are among the high-profile projects employing significant numbers of union carpenters, but whether they’re creating concrete formwork for bridges, building wood framing, erecting scaffolding or installing drywall, those members are an integral part of the Monterey Bay region.

Many of those skilled union carpenters are also residents here, challenged to afford housing even as some of their fellow union members help build affordable housing for others. So the issues of livable wages, good medical and retirement benefits are vitally important to the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, says Sean Hebard, Senior Field Representative for Carpenters Local 505/605. “Affordable housing is a big one, from our perspective,” says Hebard. “We need to make sure we address the demand side as well as the supply side.”

MBEP is invested in employment opportunities for our youth, and we are excited to partner with the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. Strong training programs are helping build a skilled workforce for a rapidly evolving industry where technology is playing an increasingly larger role: There’s a waitlist for the union’s various four-year apprenticeship programs, the largest of which is general carpentry, and an outreach program to high schools in the in tri-county region makes young people aware of opportunities across the construction trades. A six-week carpentry pre-apprenticeship for recent high school grads teaches soft skills, safety basics and financial literacy and has dramatically cut attrition rates for those who later enter the carpentry apprenticeship program. And a helmets-to-hardhats program ensures that military veterans are eligible for apprenticeship opportunities.

“Affordable housing and market rate housing needs to get built, and roads and highways need to get built,” says Hebard. “Our members do all those things.”

Pictured, third-period apprentice Anders Chippindale, Local 217, and carpenter foreman Steven White, Local 217, set a frame at CSU Monterey Bay student union building. Photo courtesy of The Northern Caifornia Carpenters Regional Council.

MBEP Member Spotlight: Monterey Peninsula Foundation: Golf and Giving

Great golf, gorgeous scenery and celebrity antics are just part of what the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is really about. The annual event, coming up Feb. 3-9, plays a huge role in supporting more than 200 charities and nonprofits across the Monterey Peninsula each year. The event is one of two major benefit tournaments each year hosted by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which in the last fiscal year donated more than $15.6 million to community nonprofits.

That $15.6 million has an impact in countless ways across the tri-county region: Grants that help support a marine biology program for students at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King CityCommunity Solutions for Children Families and Individuals program for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in San Benito County, help the Monterey Museum of Art buy vans, and that support the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation’s efforts to create the next generation of ocean leaders. From summer camps for children affected by cancer, to rebuilding local markets for local and sustainable seafood, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation’s philanthropy is felt widely.

Among the organizations awarded grants last year was MBEP, supporting its multi-year special initiative to facilitate and coordinate affordable housing in the region.

With the goal of helping create safe, healthy, and thriving communities, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation awards grants to nonprofits focusing on five areas: arts and culture, community and environment, education, health and human services, and youth. Invest as much time and energy looking at nonprofits as the Monterey Peninsula Foundation does, and you have a unique insight into the complex needs of Monterey Bay region communities.

While those needs continue to evolve, the mission of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation hasn’t changed, says Monterey Peninsula Foundation CEO Steve John, who says the foundation reviews anywhere from 70 to 90 proposals each quarter. “We have the ability to widen our aperture wherever the need may be,” says John. “Our board gives us great flexibility. That’s our greatest strength, our ability to assess and adapt.”

The scope of the need is amplified by the number of nonprofits addressing similar issues in different parts of the region, says Mary Shipsey Gunn, Director of Philanthropy for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. “What’s unique about us is we really try to listen,” says Gunn. “We are going out with our grant committee and with our staff and trying to understand those needs.”

One of those emerging needs in recent years has been what Gunn describes as a “staggering amount of youth homelessness,” giving rise to a swell of youth programs struggling to meet those needs. At the root of the problem is housing affordability.

“Our support of MBEP has gone to support their housing initiative,” says Gunn. “The need for housing in each of our communities is huge.”

Those grants often provide operating support for nonprofits across Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, says Gunn. “I think of our funding as kind of a ‘meat and potatoes’ funds, addressing basic needs that agencies have. It really helps them to provide their services.”

Another trend Gunn notes is increased collaborations among and between hospital partnerships. “In previous years, they’d compete more; now they are working alongside each other more.”

The organization is helping dispel the myth that philanthropy is the work of the wealthy.

“One of the best ways we’ve done that is Monterey County Gives!,” says Gunn. “A few years back, we approached the Monterey County Weekly and Community Foundation for Monterey County, and joined with them to provide additional matching money to groups that participate. ” The campaign runs in a short window, from early November through New Year’s Eve, accepting donations as small as $5. The 2019 campaign raised more than $5.3 million, with nearly 5,000 donors supporting 163 nonprofits.

Particularly heartening, says John, is that the campaign promotes young and new donors, “very creative in a way to pull people to give,”  he says. “It’s a community effort to show that every dollar counts across all landscapes.”

The Monterey Peninsula Foundation is proud of its role in helping to develop philanthropy in the region, says Gunn. “Last year, we did $15.6 million in giving, which was really remarkable,” says Gunn. “We’re not a funder that has a small, circumscribed target: we’re really aimed at making the experience of the community as rich as it can be for all of its residents.”

So when the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am starts up next month, think about all the good the golf tournament brings with it. “We try not to talk about golf without talking about giving, and we try not to talk about giving without talking about golf,” says Gunn. “The whole capacity to give at all comes directly from those sponsors and volunteers. Without that whole formula, we wouldn’t be in the position to do what we do.”

Working together, our members are tackling some of the biggest issues facing the Monterey Bay region. We want to hear what you are up to!  Let us amplify your message, share your successes, cross-promote events and increase your visibility within our community.  Contact us today to tell us your story!  Email mmcnulty@mbep.biz.