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Chamber's Visitors Bureau and Economic Development Commission See Resurgence in Local Economic Activity

Part of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s mission is to be a “Champion for a stronger Santa Maria Valley”. The Chamber’s Visitors Bureau and Economic Development Commission play a key role in championing the local community by helping grow existing businesses, bringing new development to town, and increasing tourism in the Santa Maria Valley.

In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, both programs made significant strides in these areas.

“We’ve been really active in our partnership with the City of Satna Maria on the Downtown revitalization project,” explained Suzanne Singh, Economic Development Director for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. “We’re excited to see this project moving forward, with City Council approving the first phase of this project.” Singh explained this initial phase of the project will be for a 5-story building with 88 housing units and commercial tenants on the first floor. The building will be located in the lot in front of Bank of America on the southeast corner of Main and Broadway.

The approval of this development wrapped up a fiscal year of business growth and new development for the City of Santa Maria. Highlights included continued development of the Skyway Collective, which is slated to open in late fall, and the continued development and opening of businesses in the Enos Ranch area.

“Many of these projects, like Enos Ranch and the Skyway Collective, have been through a long process of development,” Singh explained. “To see them coming to completion and opening for the community to enjoy is really exciting.” The Chamber has held a number of ribbon cuttings to help some of these new businesses celebrate their grand openings, including Boot Barn and Guitar Center, both located in the Enos Ranch plaza.

Singh has also been busy assisting people looking to start or expand their business, responding to over 60 requests for business-related assistance over the past fiscal year. “As we see the business community open up more and adapt to COVID, I’ve seen a heightened interest in people looking to open a business,” Singh said. “After helping the community through the challenges of the pandemic, it’s exciting to see people now interested in expanding or opening a location in Santa Maria. I think it speaks to the positive momentum being seen in the business community as a whole.”

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s Visitors Bureau is also seeing a positive trend in tourism, with a renewed interest in travel and the return of many local attractions and events.

Jennifer Harrison, the Tourism Director for the Santa Maria Valley Visitors Bureau, says they have seen an increase of visitors to the community over the past fiscal year. The Visitors Bureau has seen over 3,500 direct referrals to local hotels from their marketing efforts alone, including their “Beat Inflations Vacation” campaign, launched in May 2022.

During a time when we knew people were still eager to travel but economic inflation and rising costs were a hot topic of conversation, the intention of the “Beat Inflation Vacation” campaign was to leverage the positioning of the Spice campaign with a focus on highlighting Santa Maria Valley’s affordability as compared to that of its Central Coast neighbors,” Harrison explained. “We identified and exposed the average costs of the typical expenses of a trip to the Central Coast – a hotel room night, a nice dinner, a wine tasting – in order to prove that you can do more, for less when you choose Santa Maria Valley.”

Additionally, the return of many local events and attractions has been a positive highlight for both tourists and locals, including the return of the Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley.

“The Visitors Bureau was thrilled to see the Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolley return this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Harrison said. “The initial support received from the community has been a clear indication that people, both visitors and locals alike, are eager to enjoy Santa Maria Valley’s signature attractions. With over 200 riders in the first 45 days we’re optimistic that the trolley will continue to do well.”

Those interested in learning more about the Santa Maria Valley Wine Trolly, which runs through October 16th, can visit country/santa-maria-valley-wine-trolley/.

Both Singh and Harrison both look forwarding to building on the positive momentum they’ve seen in community development and tourism coming out of the pandemic. “We see that community members and businesses have learned a lot of lessons through the pandemic including their own resiliency and ability to adapt,” Singh said. “Going into this next fiscal year, we look forward to the continued growth of our local community, and assisting wherever we may be needed.”

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber strives to be a catalyst for business growth, convener of leaders and influencers, and champion for the stronger Santa Maria Valley. We look forward to building on the efforts of the Chamber, Economic Development Commission and Visitors Bureau and continue to make the Santa Maria Valley a great place to live, work, play, visit and do business.

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