MBEP 7th Annual

Regional Economic Summit

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | Virtual Event

A mesmerizing live stream from the Monterey Bay Aquarium served as the opening for MBEP’s 7th Annual Regional Economic Summit that explored how our region is doing economically and the opportunities ahead to reimagine our region while taking advantage of relief and stimulus funds. We heard about innovative ways to help our workers upskill and reskill. Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to the Governor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), shared what the State is doing to keep companies in California, insights into the current legislative session, and the implications for our region from these policies, and how the budget surplus is being used to provide relief to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Session recaps and the full video recording of the event are available below.


Jessica Morse

Deputy Secretary Forest Resources Management, California Natural Resources Agency

In a session on “Fire Resiliency Part 2: Jobs” during MBEP’s 7th Annual Regional Economic Summit, Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary for Forest Resources Management at the California Natural Resources Agency, detailed how creating resilient, fire-adapted ecologies, using strategies that reduce fire buildup, naturally strengthen and renew forests and result in lower-intensity fires, also have the potential to create well-paying, year-round jobs.

View this session’s presentation slides here and the full session recording here.

View the full presentation summary here

As a speaker at MBEP’s State of the Region in December 2020, Morse explored how our state got to where we are, with the forest management policies and public mindsets that significantly contributed to the intensity and devastation of recent wildfires, creating long term impacts on ecological diversity, landscapes, and watersheds. 

“What we’re seeing now is multigenerational crises colliding,” said Morse, “so you have the crisis of fire suppression legacy and Gold Rush-era clear-cutting, colliding now with climate change.” 

To combat the crises, the state is making a ground-breaking investment to meet the crisis head-on, said Morse, who outlined a multi-faceted approach that invests in community hardening (home hardening and defensible space), wildland-urban interface (fuel breaks prescribed fire, escape routes), and landscape-scale strategies (watershed planning, restoration, prescribed fire). It’s an investment in a triple-bottom-line model, said Morse, that brings environmental benefits, strengthens communities, and improves local economies. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s  $1 billion investment in forest health and fire prevention strategy maximizes technology and science-based approaches to protect state forestlands, including $39 million for LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) remote sensing and research. The state legislature approved the early release of $536 million of those funds, enabling early action to protect high-risk communities from the upcoming wildfire season before it starts.

From creating strategic fuel breaks, thinning undergrowth along roadsides, ember-proofing homes, or developing new technologies, there are countless opportunities to improve forest health, urban and community forestry, fire prevention, and more, said Morse, with exciting opportunities to create new employment as well as for upskilling and reskilling within communities. 

Innovation will play a significant role in that approach, with low-interest loans available through the Climate Catalyst Fund to stimulate new uses for woody biomass and to create economic opportunities for the use of forest materials that store carbon.

To demonstrate the scale of the opportunity, Morse showed a picture of herself dwarfed next to a massive pile of woody biomass culled from the Tahoe Basin forest. Just in that region alone, she said, there are 40,000 such slash piles, and without alternate usage, they would either be burned or end up in landfills.  

“It’s one of the areas for real innovation,” said Morse. That could include everything from micro mills, “where someone with a pickup truck comes to collect a hazard tree you’ve thinned from your front yard, and mills it rather than having it go to the landfill,” to new uses for smaller-diameter wood that lacks a commercial market and continued investments in cross-laminated timber, which holds great potential in the state.

Last year, the California Building Standards Commission approved a series of change proposals for the design of tall wood buildings, a move which allows for the development of wood buildings ranging from nine to 18 stories tall. The use of mass timber, or cross-laminated beams wood, replaces the steel and concrete traditionally used in construction and could substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as creating new uses for woody biomass.  “So now that we can allow skyscrapers — some people call them ‘plyscrapers’— in our state, we can attract some larger businesses to come as well,” said Morse.

The governor’s budget earmarked funding for the Climate Catalyst Fund as well as market and research development at GO-Biz to attract larger businesses, said Morse, and to jumpstart the creation of new markets for those materials. Those funds also support a wide range of grant opportunities and workforce development investments that could be utilized to meet specific regional needs.

Those investments are critically important, said Morse, because a lack of readily available, trained workers stands in the way of being able to move quickly to realize forest and landscape resiliency projects. The state already funds the California Conservation Corps, which provides young adults with hands-on training in fuel management and fire fuel reduction, and another successful model, Calaveras Healthy Impact Products Solutions (CHIPS), is a nonprofit organization that provides forestry jobs to people seeking employment in the Sierra Nevada foothills. One Native American tribe reduced its unemployment rates by 30 percent as a result of the program, which is in the planning stages of constructing a 3-megawatt gasification facility to provide electricity, heat, jobs, and biochar.  

“We are driving regionally driven strategies,” said Morse, “investing in regional partnerships and collaborations to design regional-scale fire strategies.”

View this session’s presentation slides here and the full session recording here.

Jessica Morse Bio

Jessica Morse is the Deputy Secretary for Forest Resources Management at the California
Natural Resources Agency. In her role, she is working to increase the pace and scale of
forest restoration and emergency fuel breaks throughout California.

Prior to joining the Newsom administration, Jessica spent nearly ten years in National Security working for the Defense Department, State Department, and the US Agency for International Development. Her assignments included a year and a half in Baghdad, Iraq, as well as India, Myanmar, and US Pacific Command in Hawaii.

Throughout her career, she designed and executed innovative strategies across agencies and governments, including a strategy using renewable energy technology transfer as a catalyst for improving US defense engagement with India.

Jessica is a 5th generation Northern Californian. She and her family still own their original homestead forestland near Tahoe. Her Sierra roots translated into a deep love of the outdoors. Jessica can be found backpacking, skiing, and fishing throughout the Sierra. She even hiked 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Ms. Morse holds a Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Principia College. In 2018, Morse ran for Congress against Tom McClintock in California’s 4th
Congressional District.


Dee Dee Myers

Senior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom,
Director of the Governor’s Office of
Business and Economic Development
From incentives to grants and new sources of expansion and startup funding, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) ensures that a wide range of resources are accessible to boost California businesses challenged by the global pandemic.

View the full session recording here.

View the full presentation summary here

The state has issued $2.5 billion in small business grants, and the Cal Competes Tax Credit (CCTC), which provides incentives for companies to relocate here, build additional manufacturing facilities or expand operations in ways that create well-paying jobs, will be expanded with a grant component for businesses that are too small, too new or invest too much in R&D to be eligible for a tax credit.

California will also expand its Main Street Small Business Tax Credit, which offers $1,000 tax credit for hiring or bringing back employees, and is working to seed new entrepreneurs in underserved communities through the California Dream Fund. Additionally, the state’s Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) is boosting access to capital, particularly important to some of those traditionally cut out of the capital market.

Those are just a few of the ways GO-Biz is helping California businesses recover from the challenges of the pandemic recession, says Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

Myers, who spoke on “The View from Sacramento: Business Recovery and Legislation Update” at MBEP’s 7th Annual Regional Economic Summit, also spoke about how the pandemic has disproportionally impacted women, the so-called “she-cession,” and how the state is prioritizing resources to help.

“For a multitude of reasons, we saw women taking the absolute brunt of the job loss and income loss,” said Myers, “and so we need to continue to invest in women and in small businesses across the state to help. That is the backbone of our economy — we all know that — those are the center of gravity in our communities, so we need to continue to invest in that.”

But California has big opportunities for growth and infrastructure investment ahead, thanks to a budget surplus, federal stimulus package and President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan, which could fuel long-term investments not only in roads and bridges but also quality, high-speed internet.

“How do we make sure people have access to quality, high-speed broadband,” said Myers, “not only for students but for businesses and healthcare and all the things we have learned in this last long year that we can do if we have a good high-speed internet connection and a device that will allow us to get onto it.”

“It’s been a long hard year,” said Myers, “but I think there may be some silver lining as we rebuild equity and rebuild for a future where California continues to be the innovation economy that drives so much of the world.”

View the full session video recording here.

Dee Dee Myers Bio

Dee Dee Myers is Senior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. She brings more than three decades of experience in strategic communications, public affairs, corporate governance, and social responsibility in both the public and private sectors.

Most recently, she served as Executive Vice
President, Worldwide Corporate Communications
and Public Affairs for Warner Bros. She was a
member of the company’s executive committee
and advised the CEO on a wide range of issues.
Prior to joining Warner Bros., Ms. Myers served as
Managing Director of the Glover Park Group.
Ms. Myers served as White House Press Secretary during President Bill Clinton’s first term and was the first woman to hold the position. After leaving
the White House, she worked as a political analyst, commentator, and writer as well as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. She is the author of The New
York Times best-selling book “Why Women Should Rule the World” and served as a consultant on the Emmy Award-winning drama series “The West Wing.”

Before joining the Clinton presidential campaign in 1991, Ms. Myers worked on a number of local, state, and national campaigns. She served as press secretary for Dianne Feinstein in her 1990 bid for governor of California and worked on the presidential campaigns of Governor Michael S. Dukakis and Vice President Walter F. Mondale. She also worked on the staffs of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and California State Senator Art Torres.


Dr. Fernando Lozano: Economic Overview 

Professor of Economics, Pomona College & Chair, Department of Economics

Economic recovery in California is a tale of where income, education and opportunity diverge. That’s because, while the state as a whole has shown clear signs of growth, actually adding jobs to pre-January 2020 levels, those gains have been unequal, according to Dr. Fernando Lozano, professor of economics at Pomona College. That recovery has been realized most robustly among middle and top wager earners in the state, but among lower-income and less educated workers — including those in the Monterey Bay region’s hospitality and tourism economies — many of those jobs have yet to come roaring back.

View this session’s presentation slides here and the full session recording here.

View the full presentation summary here

Dr. Lozano, presenting an economic overview of the region during MBEP’s 7th Annual Economic Summit, discussed some of the reasons the split in the state’s K-shaped recovery is disproportionately impacting those lower-income workers, and how to move forward.

“If you look at the data for the tri-counties, employment has not covered as it did in the larger state.”

Those with little education or lower wages have been particularly vulnerable to the pandemic recession and show the least recovery, said Lozano, while middle to high-wage workers have largely recovered. The numbers show the inequity: For high-wage workers, employment levels rose 3.3 percent and middle-wage earners were up 0.5, contrasting with a 34.6 percent drop in employment for low-wage workers.
And in terms of economic mobility, the tri-counties lag behind other coastal communities in California, more resembling Central Valley communities in terms of the likelihood for youth to improve the economic status they were born into, said Lozano. Children who grow up in the region’s poorest households fare worse, on average than children born in coastal counties anywhere between San Diego to Sonoma County, according to opportunityatlas.org data.

Lozano, who serves as co-chair of California’s Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, said that while California has always been a dynamic economy, with an influx of movement in and out of the state, federal policies have impacted the flow of immigrants, and that lack of diversity could negatively impact economic recovery for the Monterey Bay region.

“Diversity encourages innovation, diversity encourages new ideas,” said Lozano. “It is the lack of diversity that has made this pandemic more acute in the Tri-County area, the Monterey Bay area, than in other parts of the state.”

Its diverse population is among the region’s biggest assets, along with its leading educational institutions, said Lozano, and funneling resources into human capital are key to building long-term economic resilience.

“I’m going to propose that, as a policy perspective, there have to be investments in education, investments in health, and particularly, investment among the youngest.”

Human capital investments have huge returns for both individuals and local economies in the form of individual spending and local tax revenues. “The higher the level of education of an individual, the more that person is going to contribute to the local economy, both in terms of local spending, but also in terms of taxes – local taxes and state taxes.”

Immigrants and diverse voices help fuel innovation, said Lozano, and supporting diversity is one way to fuel innovative growth in the region. Additionally, leveling the playing field so that low-income families, minorities, and women could become inventors at the same rate as men from high-income families could quadruple the rate of innovation in the country.

View this session’s presentation slides here and the full session recording here.

Dr. Fernando Lozano Bio
Fernando Lozano received his PhD in Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is currently Professor of Economics at Pomona College, and Chair of the Department of Economics. He serves as co-chair to the California’s Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Fernando is a labor economist whose research focuses on immigration, labor supply and leisure trends. He is a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor IZA in Bonn, Germany. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Labor Economics, and many other academic journals.

Fernando Lozano was president of the American Society of Hispanic Economists, was a member of the American Economic Association Committee in the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession, a mentor in the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics, and the American Economic Association Mentoring Program.


Matt Huffaker

City Manager, Watsonville & Vice Chair, MBEP Board
With a combined $280 million in federal funding designated for the cities and counties of the Monterey Bay region, the American Rescue Plan creates unprecedented opportunity for the region.

View the full session recording here.

View the full presentation summary here

During a session on regional collaboration at MBEP’s Economic Summit, Watsonville City Manager and MBEP Vice Chair Matt Huffaker said that taking a collaborative approach could have the greatest impact on the region.

“We haven’t seen direct federal funding of this scale since FDR’s New Deal over 100 years ago,” said Huffaker. “I think it’s in many respects an unprecedented opportunity for us to leverage this federal funding in ways that allow us to make some meaningful change on a number of fronts.”

Watsonville $18.8 million share amounts to about half of its annual general fund revenue, he said, and the city already sees opportunities to continue pushing for more access to affordable housing, to address homelessness issues, continue to lower the barriers to broadband access and to address infrastructure projects that have been deferred for years.

“All of these are really regional opportunities,” said Huffaker, “and one of the areas i’ve really been trying to push, is how can we leverage this funding in a way that makes meaningful change across the entire region?”

The pandemic has already fostered a greater level of cooperation across the region’s city managers and county governments during a challenging year, and Huffaker said there’s strong interest in wanting to continue. 

“My hope is that we can leverage this opportunity and use it as an example of how resilient we are as a region and emerge from this stronger,” said Huffaker. “I’m hopeful.”

View the full session recording here.

Matt Huffaker Bio
Matt Huffaker is an experienced local government professional, currently serving as the City Manager for the City of Watsonville, and previously as the Deputy City Manager for the City of Walnut Creek. He is an action-oriented leader, with a passion for building community partnerships and championing positive system change. Matt has extensive experience in economic development, strategic planning, labor relations, organizational development, and building community partnerships.
Matt has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, a Master’s in Public Administration from CSU East Bay, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Executive Seminar leadership development program. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Watsonville and has served on numerous boards, including Second Harvest Food Bank and Monterey Bay Community Power.
Matt is the father to three young children and enjoys spending weekend’s exploring all the great parks and outdoor recreation activities throughout Santa Cruz County.


Derek Hansen

Co-Founder & CEO, Mynt Systems

Dr. Tiffany Wise-West

Sustainability and Climate Action Manager, City of Santa Cruz
When Beckmann’s Bakery was looking to grow its business, it turned to building performance firm Mynt Systems to help oversee renovation of a former cold storage facility in Seabright. By embedding sustainability in the form of rooftop solar, LED lighting, modern HVAC and other features, the industrial facility was able to almost entirely offset its electrical usage, resulting in lower operational costs even in a building triple the size of its original space.

View the full session recording here.
View the full presentation summary here

In the process of its work with local manufacturers, from Graniterock to Beckmann’s and Sonic Manufacturing Technologies, and the commercial real estate market, Mynt Systems CEO Derek Hansen says his company is helping those firms regain competitive footing at a time when so much manufacturing is struggling with offshore competition.

That translates to job retention and growth for those companies, but it’s also creating demand for jobs within companies such as Mynt Systems and related fields. “One of the things that cost a lot of jobs in this country over the last 50 years was an outsourcing of manufacturing overseas — a lot of blue-collar jobs were lost,” said Hansen, who spoke on the emerging green economy at MBEP’s 7th Annual Economic Summit last week. “We believe strongly that by our work focusing on manufacturing, or at least the industrial space, we’re actually giving those (companies) a better opportunity to compete overseas on manufacturing pricing.”

Beckman’s has been able to add shifts, significantly lower its cost of operations and increase profits.

“Our intention is to really reinvigorate the blue collar job market, not just through our company but through the companies we serve as well.,” said Hansen. “The new blue collar is a green collar.”

Many Mynt Systems employees have been able to transfer skill sets from other industries, said Hansen, and those workers are finding renewed passion for their jobs as part of the green economy, proving that it’s possible to do work that’s both good for the economy and the environment. That, in turn, creates a ripple effect across the region as the green ecosystem continues to develop.

Also speaking was Dr. Tiffany Wise-West, Sustainability and Climate Action Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, who said green jobs currently make up between 2,500 to 3,500 in Santa Cruz, primarily in construction, according to preliminary estimates, and the city looks to build a pipeline for skilled labor jobs and new opportunities in green industries.

The city hosted its first round table on green jobs in April, with another planned for August.
“Our mayor is thinking about how can we leverage folks that are in the service and hospitality and tourism industries to perhaps lend their enthusiasm for the place they live,” said Wise-West, “and perhaps do coastal interpretation and urban forestry, coastal monitoring.” Other areas for job development include existing building electrification and water treatment plant operators.

There are immediate economic benefits for the local economy as well, as the city’s grant-funded climate adaptation work can bring in anywhere from “hundreds of thousands to perhaps millions of dollars annually,” she said.

The future holds promising opportunities for job growth in the areas of energy resiliency and storage: Hansen said his company is already working with 3CE and a spinoff of Google X’s think thank for long duration energy storage.

View the full session recording here.

Derek Hansen Bio

Derek Hansen has had a passion for all things Building Performance since childhood and began working part-time, as a teenager, in his father’s company TGC, Inc. Following his passion for architecture, he worked as an intern at the prestigious Thatcher and Thompson Architects before moving into construction during the housing boom in Hawaii in the mid-’90s.

Upon his father’s pleading to return back to Santa Cruz to be groomed to eventually run the family company he began working his way up the ranks until, after 15 years, reaching the role of Chief Executive Officer. Within his 5 years at the helm, he worked with his team to more than double company revenue and build a national presence.

While running the company, Derek wrote the business plan for a company idea that he’d been working on for a number of years (Mynt Systems). While developing the plan with his wife and business partner, he pitched a number of investment groups and in a short time found the perfect fit in a private and unnamed group that had tremendous experience in the energy and commercial real estate space.

Mynt Systems was born from a desire to create a paradigm shift in the energy and sustainability world by combining multiple functions that would result in a turn-key model with massive results for people, planet, and profit. Since its inception, Mynt has broken new and uncharted ground by reimagining commercial and
industrial real estate by bringing new value to both owners and tenants while simultaneously reducing carbon footprint. Mynt’s reputation for dynamic and groundbreaking work began to attract Fortune 500 clients and some of the top talent in their fields such as Robert Hymes, now Chief Development Officer,
formerly of Solar City’s Commercial division and Heliopower before that.

Derek is known for his far reaching vision and the ability to inspire others with his passion. Derek’s uncanny ability to find and recruit top talent has grown the Mynt Systems team into one of the most dynamic and capable groups in the market. It’s Derek’s mission to prove that not only can legendary results be achieved for people, planet, it can also be wildly profitable for businesses, simultaneously.

Derek believes that Mynt is pioneering a new form of commerce in which the zero-sum game of corporate finance is outmoded by one where legendary results are achieved by everyone from the people working in the buildings they renovate, to the community in which they work.

When not at work Derek can be found teaching Jiu Jitsu, skateboarding with his 10 and 12 year old sons, or reading the latest book on spiritual enlightenment or quantum physics. Derek is committed to living in the service of others and hopes his mission can be an example for others in the pursuit of their dreams.

Dr. Tiffany Wise-West Bio
Dr. Tiffany Wise-West is the Sustainability and Climate Action Manager for the City of Santa Cruz. A licensed civil engineer with over 25 years of experience in municipal environmental infrastructure and policy planning, design, and implementation, Tiffany specializes in collaborating across sectors to deliver award-winning and impactful climate resilience initiatives. Tiffany also serves as the chair of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment, is the recent former chair and a current steering committee member of the Central Coast Climate Collaborative and serves on the board of directors for Central Coast Energy Services, a nonprofit organization providing energy education and services to people in need.


Dr. Carissa Purnell

Director, Alisal Family Resources​; Professor, Hartnell College​; Lecturer, CSU Monterey Bay​

Asking a historically underrepresented community, ”What does economic development look like to you” doesn’t quite capture the root cause of what we know just by looking around and living here and working here. That’s why, when a team of community leaders was tasked with collecting data as part of the Region Rising Together: Salinas initiative, they decided that a necessary part of the process was to first build community engagement and create trust. So they invited residents to community forums to talk about those causes, says Dr. Carissa Purnell, and “what it would look like to dream outside of our poverty.”

View the full session recording here.

View the full presentation summary here

Purnell, director of Alisal Family Resources, is also a professor at Hartnell College and a key leader involved in Regions Rising Together: Salinas. The initiative launched in February 2020 with the support of CA Forward and the James Irvine Foundation, aims to achieve inclusivity and prosperity for all residents of the Salinas Valley by synchronizing and leveraging existing efforts, to enable and empower communities through the co-creation of investment plans, and to demonstrate that our region is investment-ready and investment-worthy.

In those community forums, facilitators shared historical data on the impact of job earnings, and residents shared their stories: about COVID and the impacts on their health, family and financial insecurity, their fears and frustrations and the lack of connectivity for virtual instruction.

In smaller breakout rooms, “the truths that we have seen in data truly came to life through testimony and first-person lived narratives,” said Purnell. “Inadequate housing, limited access and hesitation to get mental health care support, inconsistent and unstable work and income, and this constant question, how am I going to make the rent was sort of at the forefront of these discussions.”

The work that’s being done is leading to critical race equity conversations that address existing constraints that will, in turn, inform our investment priorities. Learn more about the Regions Rising Together: Salinas initiative here.

View the full session recording here.

Dr. Carissa Purnell Bio

Dr. Carissa A. Purnell is an educator who believes in uplifting and developing the voice of community utilizing knowledge, learning, and critical thought as the catalyst for systemic change and empowerment. Through education she believes in intentionally and deliberately combatting inequity and injustice to develop youth in underrepresented communities in order to find a voice, professional pathway, and establish their place at institutions of higher education.

Dr. Purnell currently serves as the Director of the Alisal Family Resource Center, leading three resources facilities for the Alisal Union School District. She and her team work to support children and families through socio-economic struggles including but not limited to; immigration, housing, literacy, mental health, and access to preventative medical services. She understands that quite often the issues that most impact our students’ capacity to learn take place outside of the four classroom walls and in the communities in which our youngest live. The health and quality of our neighborhoods determines how well our students will learn and engage in the academic pursuits.

She works in the evening at Salinas Valley State Prison teaching Ethnic Studies through the Hartnell College “Inmates Risising” Program where student inmates receive college credit and sentence reductions. Dr. Purnell is also a lecturer at California State University Monterey Bay. She serves on the board for the César Chávez Fútbol Academy, United Way Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Monterey County New Progressives, and is an elected official representing Assembly District 30 as a Democratic Delegate. She was recently awarded the 2021 Woman of the Year Award from Senator Caballero and identified nationally as a “Leader to Learn From” by Education Week.

Dr. Purnell grew up in Sacramento and moved to the Central Coast to attend college where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Classical Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2007. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science, Information Architecture and Systems Design from San Jose State University in 2009, and completed her Doctorate in Education at San Francisco State University in 2013.


Last year, Cruzio Internet and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County spearheaded Equal Access Santa Cruz County, a community campaign to close the internet access gaps for underserved households in Santa Cruz County. Launched in September 2020, the initiative was able to unite a wide range of community partners — Cruzio, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, the Rotary Club of Watsonville and Pajaro Valley Unified School District — to bring broadband infrastructure to its first project, the Buena Vista Migrant Camp. That targeted approach, which included community fundraising, corporate donations and voluntary contributions on Cruzio customers’ monthly bill, raised enough money to build broadband infrastructure to reach those 143 units and cover service for those households at no charge to them for the next two years. (Learn more in this video

Now, MBEP is expanding upon the success of Equal Access Santa Cruz County, taking action to launch Equal Access Monterey Bay, a similarly community-based initiative to address issues of affordability and access in Monterey County. To get involved in Equal Access Monterey Bay or learn more, contact MBEP Chief Operating Officer Freny Cooper at fcooper@mbep.biz.


Congratulations Salinas Homekey!

Turning a former motel into supportive housing for formerly homeless residents would be challenging in normal times. A coalition of public and private partners was able to do so at the height of the pandemic, in record time, and managed to create a concrete and specific solution that is helping those in need.

View the full award summary here

Project Homekey Salinas, led by Shangri-La Industries, LLC (SLI) and Step Up on Second Street, Inc., was made possible in part with a grant from the state’s Project Homekey, created last year to help those facing housing insecurity. The conversion of the property will create 101 units of permanent supportive housing for those hardest to house and most in need of wrap-around services at the former Good Nite Hotel on Work Street in Salinas.
The hotel was purchased with financing from Shangri-La Industries, LLC and is in the top 10% of most cost-effective Homekey projects throughout California. So far, the project has provided housing to 60 Monterey County residents experiencing homelessness, while the building undergoes a complete rehabilitation.

The $9.2 million initiative was a collaborative effort between the County of Monterey, City of Salinas, the Housing Authority of the County of Monterey (HACM), the Coalition for Homeless Services Providers, Shangri-La Industries, LLC (SLI) and Step Up on Second, Inc.

The organizations that partnered on the Salinas Homekey project are the recipients of the 2021 MBEP Public-Private Partnership Award, presented each year to an impactful cross-sector partnership that demonstrates a significant contribution to the well-being of the region and inspires others to take action.

“Salinas Homekey offers a concrete and specific solution that is helping those in need, and is an excellent example of a complicated public-private partnership serving our community that the MBEP board felt worthy of recognition and replication across the region,” said California State University, Monterey Bay President and MBEP Chair Eduardo Ochoa.

In presenting the award, Dr. Ochoa called Project Homekey Salinas “an excellent example of a complicated public-private partnership serving our community that the MBEP board felt worthy of recognition and replication across the region.”

“The success we’re having here in Salinas at the Good Night Inn has been a catalyst for both Shangri-La and Step Up,” said Shangri-La Industries CEO Andy Meyers. “It has inspired us to do additional projects within Monterey County, and we are committing an additional $300 million in capital to future projects within Monterey County and the state of California.”

From applying for funds to opening the doors took four months, according to Salinas Community Development Director Megan Hunter, “a huge success for the community (that) would not have happened without our community partners collectively prioritizing this initiative.”