The San Benito County supervisors were expecting a progress report by Nancy Martin, the executive director/CEO of the San Benito County Economic Development Corporation, at Tuesday’s meeting. Instead, they received word from County Administrative Officer Rich Inman that he had been informed that Martin is no longer with the EDC.
Members of the EDC board and Martin did not return calls for comment before press time. Enrique Arreola, who has worked with Martin as the deputy director of Community Services and Workforce Development, said he spoke with Martin after the supervisors meeting and she said she would be finishing out some contracted work.
Martin signed a contract with CSWD for layoff aversion services on March 6. The contract included conducting a survey of San Benito County businesses and putting on a business box lunch event that will be held June 28 at San Juan Oaks Golf Club.
The supervisors in recent weeks have been discussing at what level to fund the EDC, which used to be funded by the city of Hollister and San Benito County. The city paid its portion out of redevelopment agency funding. Since the RDAs were abolished by the state earlier this year, the city cut funding to the EDC agency that is tasked with bringing in new business to the county and retaining existing employers. The county supervisors discussed cutting funding to the agency last year during the budget hearing process, but agreed to keep it.
This year again as the county faces a $5.5 million budget deficit, the EDC funding has been considered for the chopping block. The supervisors declined to cut the funding at the June 12 meeting, though they were encouraged to make a decision by Inman. They wanted to give Martin a chance to talk at this week’s meeting.
Martin and the EDC board members had been looking into a possible fundraising campaign to keep the agency going. A representative of the EDC board asked the supervisors to postpone the item so that they have time to prepare a presentation.
Supervisor Margie Barrios said that even if the city is not involved in funding the EDC through the RDA, “we don’t want to lose sight.” She suggested partnering with economic development agencies in nearby counties.
“We need to invest to make ensure the county gets better,” she said.