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Local Leaders Weigh In: Santa Maria Valley Development

Each month, we’re asking our local leaders to weigh in on a timely topic. This month, we’re talking about the development of the Santa Maria Valley. We asked:  “Santa Maria and the surrounding areas are planning for where and how anticipated growth would happen. We also need to think about how to make the community attractive to businesses and families. What do you think the Santa Maria Valley needs to be the community of choice for business and residents?” 

"Personally I think we need more areas where housing and business are intermixed and you can walk from home to restaurants and coffee shops.  I see other cities really embracing the outdoor, walking areas with attractive shops and restaurants.  From a healthcare perspective, we need to grow our hospital and our physician base so that we can take care of a growing community."
- Sue Andersen, President & CEO, Marian Regional Medical Center

"When it comes to creating a great city, iconic landmarks come to mind, but what really matters is the feeling of being in that city. It's the community, the culture, and the way these elements are woven into the fabric of the city that truly make it attractive. As someone who was born and raised in the Santa Maria Valley and has lived in a number of larger cities, I can attest that we have our own unique culture and blend of communities that make it a special place to call home. In order to make it even more attractive to businesses and residents, we need to focus on building and expanding these elements.
     Businesses are attracted to areas where they can find a talented workforce and where they can easily serve the needs of the population. To achieve this, the Santa Maria Valley needs to become a hub for education and training, helping people develop the skills they need to thrive in the workforce or start their own businesses. Collaboration between local businesses and colleges can create training programs and scholarships to help support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
     Another crucial step towards making the Santa Maria Valley an attractive place to live is to provide a better quality of life for residents. This can be done through the growth of local small businesses, mixed-use developments that offer both commercial and residential spaces, and entertainment options like more and better nightlife options that help keep the community vibrant and active. We also need to prioritize the beautification of our parks, historic buildings and establishments, and existing infrastructure, creating spaces that are both functional and enjoyable for everyone.
As urban designer Jan Gehl once said, 'The purpose of cities is to enable its people to live good lives.' By focusing on building a strong community, providing education and training opportunities, and improving the quality of life for our residents, we can transform the Santa Maria Valley into a thriving hub that is not only a great place for people to call home but attracts and births businesses as well."

- Ignacio Moreno, President, Santa Maria Public Airport District"
"The Santa Maria Valley is well positioned to be a community of choice for residents of the central coast. It’s no secret that one of our biggest challenges in housing. If the city and county can find ways to build housing for working families, our community will see robust growth. Most of the infrastructure is in place: Marian Regional Medical Center is one of the nation’s top hospitals, our K-12 schools are solid and getting better every year, and Allan Hancock College is setting records for the number of graduates produced every year. The only thing missing is a local option to pursue an affordable baccalaureate degree. AHC is moving forward with plans to fill that gap under new state rules that allow community colleges to offer market-driven four year degrees."
Dr. Kevin Walthers, Superintendent/President, Allan Hancock College

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