San Benito is on a roll

San Benito County is on a roll economically and culturally, making it an ideal place to relocate a business and family.

Nothing rings truer these days: an unbeatable combination of great weather, gorgeous mountainous surroundings, a long list of recreational amenities and enticing year-round cultural offerings. In other words, the quality of life is through the roof, which is one reason why the growth in rooftops has been so healthy.

San Benito County boasts some of California’s best wineries, high-end schools, a top-of-the-line hospital system, endless outdoor options and entertaining events throughout the year. On top of all that, the weather is great.

With a fast-growing county population approaching 60,000, up nearly 10 percent from 2010, San Benito County is home to communities like bustling Hollister, the historic mission town of San Juan Bautista, the beautiful countryside in Aromas, the rancher hub of Tres Pinos, the Pinnacles National Park gateway of Paicines and the mercury mining town known as New Idria.

San Benito County’s housing industry has exploded in the past few years. Much of that development has occurred within county limits, San Juan Bautista and the City of Hollister, where new homes have been built each year since the post-recession comeback.

Two of the fastest-growing sectors overall for the local economy have been construction and automobile sales. That’s good news for local auto retailers like Greenwood Chevrolet and Tiffany Motor Co.

Hollister City Manager Bill Avera and other city leaders have been pro-business in general and particularly in their approach to housing and commercial growth.

“What we’ve done is we’ve encouraged companies to come if they need our help, whether it be fast-tracking or getting through the permit-processing part.” Avera said.

An example of such an approach was a city hotel-incentive program, which helped spur construction of the Fairfield Inn & Suites near the Highway 25 gateway. Whenever the city can, council members and other officials support such customized programs for business recruitment, Avera said.

“Certainly, you can tell our council has been pretty proactive in economic development,” he said.

The balance of housing and commercial growth shows the city has been growing in a positive, healthy direction.

“A lot of times you’re not going to get the retailers unless you have the people here that are going to shop at those places,” Avera said.

There are plenty of excellent options for public education in San Benito County, whether it’s traditional schools, academic-focused public institutions such as the Dual Language Academy and Accelerated Achievement Academy in the Hollister School District, a state-of-the-art San Benito High School campus or the more liberal arts-oriented Anzar High School in San Juan.

Krystal Lomanto, San Benito County superintendent of schools, said local educators work tirelessly to make sure students attain a high-quality education and reach whatever goals they desire after high school.

“San Benito County is a great place that allows parents to be involved in the educational success of their students,” Lomanto says. “We have caring teachers, committed staff and administrators who care about the academic success of their students.”

Classrooms are just the start when it comes to healthy trends. When businesses or families relocate to a county like this one, they’re often putting healthcare access at the top of the priority chain. Fortunately, there are about 100 doctors practicing in San Benito County.

The San Benito Health Foundation offers medical, dental and WIC services for low-income residents at the main location or the San Juan Bautista Clinic.

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital has four community health clinics, a multispecialty center, an orthopedic specialty center and a primary care center. Hazel Hawkins also offers 24-hour emergency services with an 18-bed Emergency Department and two clinics. The hospital in recent years went through a major publicly supported renovation.

“We are fortunate that even though we are a smaller, rural community, we have access to excellent health care in our area,” said Frankie Gallagher, director of marketing for Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital. “We have excellent physicians and staff, and the personalized care our patients receive from all of our healthcare providers is a testament to their dedication in serving the community in which they live and work.”

By San Benito County Chamber of Commerce

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