EconAlliance is a non-profit cross-industry alliance that fosters awareness, advocacy, support and appreciation for Northern Santa Barbara County industries and communities.

Log in


  • 03/01/2022 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Successful

    At 9:12 AM on February 25, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket for the Starlink Group 4-11 mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, CA.

    Falcon 9 took a total of 50 Starlink satellites to orbit during the mission. Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite constellation designed to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. SpaceX has close to 2,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 340 miles. A little less than nine minutes later, the Falcon 9's first stage came back down to Earth for a vertical touchdown on Of Course I Still Love You, a SpaceX droneship that was stationed several hundred miles off the California coast. It was the fourth successful launch and landing of the reusable booster.

    Around one hour two minutes after launch, the second stage of the Falcon 9 released the 50 Starlink satellites into their final drop-off orbit. The 50 Starlink internet satellites will join the existing constellation of Starlink satellites positioned at low Earth orbit in an effort to improve SpaceX's network and broadband signal interface for internet users around the world. Update: SpaceX has launched Starlink satellites to help the people of Ukraine.


    A 501c3 nonprofit organization, EconAlliance drives positive impact through strategic initiatives, unique partnerships and creative programs. The organization champions Northern Santa Barbara County communities and the key industry sectors that fuel these communities and inspire regional economic vitality.

    Contact: Victoria Conner

  • 02/07/2022 4:34 PM | Anonymous

    EconAlliance 5th Ag Forum Yields Valuable Insights

    Over 125 agriculture and economic stakeholders gathered at the Radisson in Santa Maria on Thursday, February 3, for the 5th EconAlliance Ag Forum. Hosted by EconAlliance Ag Initiative Lead George Adam (Innovative Produce) and Board President Sam Cohen (Santa Ynez Chumash), the premier event sponsor was Grower-Shipper Association Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties, as well as Farm Credit West, Allan Hancock College, Community Bank of Santa Maria and Innovative Produce, as well as several table sponsors. Luncheon keynote was Blong Xiong, State USDA Farm Services Agency Executive Director and featured speaker was Walt Duflock, Vice President Innovation, Western Growers Association. His in-depth presentation (PDF Link Here) was very well received. The event also included County of Santa Barbara Deputy Ag Commissioner Lottie Martin and Innovation and Competitiveness Issues panels.

    Highlights of the event included Blong Xiong’s sharing of new programs and initiatives at the state level targeting rural and ag communities, one of which was drought-related. Story continues below slide show!

    Walt DuflockDuflock (photo right) noted, while sharing that 2021 was a record ($621B) year in venture capital investing, that the challenge for agriculture was to create more “unicorns” (newest, potentially most profitable start-ups). Of the 250 total “unicorns”  funded in 2021, only one was ag-related. Current investment interest seems to be in the “downstream” areas of ag such as instore restaurant, online restaurants and MealKits, eGrocery, etc. although 2021 investment in Ag “upstream” areas still outstripped downstream investments in both largest deal ($1.6B vs $800M in downstream), and in overall investment ($15.8B vs $14.3B downstream). Labor costs and shortages are driving much of the innovation and R&D, with Duflock stating, “AgTech goes where acreage is growing” and labor is needed. The Duflock presentation also noted that the costs of regulatory compliance, in addition to rising labor costs, are creating a burden on the producer. Lettuce grower costs in California, for example, rose 795% between 2006-2017, while production costs increased 25% over the same period. The share of regulatory costs of total production costs increased from 1% to 9% from 2006-2017, according to research done by Cal Poly professor Lynn Hamilton.

    Deputy Ag Commissioner Lottle Martin stated that the top five 2020 crops in Santa Barbara County included strawberries (at number one), cauliflower, broccoli, nursery products and wine grapes, with the top five countries exported to being Canada, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Commercial hemp is a new crop for the County, with commercial hemp producers now able to register with the County (hemp acreage capped at 152 acres). As of February 2, 2022, there were 16 cannabis licenses countywide.


    The Forum recognized several HR and/or Safety Officers nominated by local growers: Veronica Blanco (Innovative Produce), Veronica Dodd (Frest Venture Foods), Haydee Garcia (Main Street Produce) and Carrie Jordan and Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Calderon of Babe Farms.


    A 501c3 nonprofit organization, EconAlliance drives positive impact through strategic initiatives, unique partnerships and creative programs. The organization champions Northern Santa Barbara County communities and the key industry sectors that fuel these communities and inspire regional economic vitality.

    Contact: Victoria Conner

  • 12/09/2021 5:21 PM | Anonymous

    The past two years have been stressful for all of us, but perhaps no positions in the private sector, other than medical workers and first responders, have been more under pressure than Human Resources and safety personnel. This is especially true in the Ag sector. To acknowledge this, EconAlliance and its Ag Forum partners are making HR and Safety Staff the recognition focus for the 2022 EconAlliance Ag Forum.

    As an agricultural-related company with operations in Northern Santa Barbara County, if your organization would like to have EconAlliance and its Ag Forum partners recognize one HR or Safety staff person (one only per organization), please complete this fillable PDF form about that staff member, and a paper certificate will be prepared for that person. It can be mailed to that person in care of your company or mailed to you for presentation internally.

    If your organization plans to have a table, or a few people attending the February 3rd Ag Forum, and you would like your nominee recognized as part of the group recognition being planned (names/companies read, nominees in attendance standing), please indicate that your nominee and someone from your company will be registering and we will hold the certificate for a group presentation at the event.


    1. The nominee must be in charge of or significantly engaged in either HR and/or Safety for your organization for them to receive recognition. This opportunity is being publicized by email (through our newsletter) and also being mailed to those in the agricultural community for whom we have mailing addresses. 
    2. The first five nominees we receive completed nomination forms for will each receive a free ($60) seat at the February 3 event and their company representative will have 3 minutes at the podium, if desired, to share why the person was nominated and the nominee will receive his/her certificate onstage. 
    3. All nominees AFTER the first five received will need to have paid seats or be designated guests at sponsored company tables. They will be recognized as a group, being asked to stand at their seats for audience applause and recognition, and their names with the names of their companies will be listed in the program guide. 

    Download Nomination Form (PDF)

    Questions about the 2022 Ag Forum HR/Safety recognition? Contact: Victoria Conner, Initiatives Director, EconAlliance (805) 254-4479 or

  • 12/04/2021 5:51 PM | Anonymous

    EconAlliance Future Forum Challenged Everyday Assumptions

    The EconAlliance Annual Dinner/Future Forum held Thursday, December 2nd at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. See video highlight reel with opening address by Sam Cohen here. The event featured international futurist Matt Griffin, flown in from London through a Chumash sponsorship. Griffin, founder of the 311 Institute and World Futures Forum, is an advisor to various governments and/or government agencies in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, UAE, etc., as well as a strategist and convention speaker for Fortune 500 and global companies such as Samsung, JP Morgan Chase, Deloitte, T-Mobile, Space X, Tesla, Disney, and others. He is regularly featured in media (Forbes, Bloomburg, Associated Press, etc.) An audience of over 100, primarily industry and community leaders and policymakers, were stunned to hear about some of the “exponential” technologies either positioned to or already disrupting various industries and everyday life. Griffin’s presentation focused on the key innovations set to challenge the agriculture, energy, healthcare, transportation and space industries, all relevant to North County. Story Continues Below.


    In addition to the futurist’s presentation, the dinner provided an occasion to introduce the 2020 EconAlliance Innovation awardees (Charles and Jody Williams of Broken Clock Vinegar Works), who were only recognized virtually at last year’s Future Forum. Chris Chirgwin of Lanspeed was celebrated as the 2021 EconAlliance Innovation Awardee, for his development of the concept of a North County fiber ring to support regional broadband enhancement.

    Also recognized was outgoing EconAlliance Board president Joe Halsell, CEO, Halsell Builders, who served EconAlliance as board chief for three years.

    Incoming Board President Sam Cohen, Government & Legal Specialist Santa Ynez Band of Chumash, provided a virtual welcome and overview of 2020 EconAlliance activities. Board Vice President Phil Adam, COO, Innovative Produce, served as emcee for the event.


    A 501c3 nonprofit organization, EconAlliance drives positive impact through strategic initiatives, unique partnerships and creative programs. The organization champions Northern Santa Barbara County communities and the key industry sectors that fuel these communities and inspire regional economic vitality.

    Contact: Victoria Conner

  • 11/29/2021 4:04 PM | Anonymous

    The November Cross-Industry (virtual) Forum was attended by dozens of policymakers and economic and infrastructure stakeholders interested in the results of the EconAlliance Infrastructure Survey. The purpose of the EconAlliance Infrastructure Survey is primarily to give key industries in Santa Barbara County’s North and Mid-County areas a voice about the infrastructure needs and opportunities to keep their industries thriving. Broadly distributed, however, the survey provides the opportunity for all industry and community organizations to participate. See the full presentation with attendee input in video format here.

    Forum welcome was given by incoming EconAlliance board president Sam Cohen, with an overview of the bi-annual Infrastructure Survey provided by survey founder Dan Deveraux of CalPortland. A summary of the Infrastructure Survey input was presented by Victoria Conner, EconAlliance Initiatives Director (Click Presentation PDF).

    All 6 EconAlliance key NSBC industries represented: Ag, Wine/Tourism, Energy, Mfg, Space, and Healthcare. Largest representation was from Leisure/Hospitality, Agriculture-Wine, Manufacturing, Ag – Vegetables/Berries and Retail. In addition, the online event featured five-minute “industry snapshots” sharing information about post-lockdown status, key infrastructure and other industry needs and opportunities. See Program Agenda (PDF)

    Industry presenters included: George Adam, Agriculture; Ben Oakley, Energy; Trevor Orrick, Manufacturing; and Dominick Barry, Quintron.

  • 10/31/2021 6:16 PM | Anonymous

    Pacific Premier Bank Grant Funds EconAlliance for North County Broadband Needs Assessments and “Last Mile Connectivity Analysis”

    Pacific Premier Bank (PPG) has funded EconAlliance with a 2021-2022 $25,000 grant to undertake new activities in its effort to enhance broadband in Northern Santa Barbara County. This grant funds EconAlliance’s undertaking an assessment of broadband needs for organizations and residents, along with identifying anchor institutions in the communities of Los Alamos, Cuyama, and Orcutt. This funding goes toward a follow-on effort being undertaken through a previous grant that was awarded to EconAlliance by PPG to study broadband needs of Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and Lompoc, an effort with surveys and interviews that is currently underway.

    In addition to the needs assessment and anchor institution work, this grant provides partial funding for EconAlliance to engage and oversee telecom consultants to perform a “Last Mile Connectivity Analysis” for Northern Santa Barbara County. This portion of the grants funding will be a collaborative effort with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, with Tribal broadband funding also providing funding for the Analysis. The “Last Mile” element provides critical analysis for community decision-making, studies population clusters using GIS tools, and fits them with potential network architectures(e.g. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTFH), Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and point to point ethernet) to better understand cost and viability of last mile connectivity.

    EconAlliance identified broadband as a critical factor in Northern Santa Barbara County economic vitality in its earliest conversations with industries and economic stakeholders. The organization has been serving as an area liaison to the tri-county Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast for several years. In 2020, Broadband Advisory Group lead Chris Chirgwin of Lanspeed and EconAlliance began promoting the concept of a Northern Santa Barbara County Fiber Ring to provide middle-mile connectivity to North County, enhance access to broadband and encourage provider investment. The organization has been seeking stakeholder, policymaker and funding support for the Fiber Ring ever since.

    Additionally, EconAlliance and the Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast were tapped by the Santa Ynez Chumash to assist with the Tribe’s broadband strategy development, analyzing the potential of integrating Chumash broadband into the concept of the North County Fiber Ring in 2020. EconAlliance also is a partner with the Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast and REACH in an effort to enhance broadband across the tri-county area.

    About EconAlliance

    EconAlliance is a cross-industry, cross-organization nonprofit that builds awareness, advocacy and appreciation for Northern Santa Barbara County industries and communities. CONTACT: Vicki Conner 805-345-0688

    About Pacific Premier Bank

    Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPBI) is the parent company of Pacific Premier Bank, a California based commercial bank focused on serving small, middle-market, and corporate businesses throughout the western United States in major metropolitan markets in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. Founded in 1983, Pacific Premier Bank has grown to become one of the largest banks headquartered in the western region of the United States, with $21 billion in total assets. Pacific Premier Bank provides banking products and services, including deposit accounts, digital banking, and treasury management services, to businesses, professionals, entrepreneurs, real estate investors, and nonprofit organizations. Pacific Premier Bank also offers a wide array of loan products, such as commercial business loans, lines of credit, SBA loans, commercial real estate loans, agribusiness loans, franchise lending, home equity lines of credit, and construction loans. Pacific Premier Bank offers commercial escrow services and facilitates 1031 Exchange transactions through its Commerce Escrow division. Pacific Premier Bank offers clients IRA custodial services through its Pacific Premier Trust division, which has over $17 billion of assets under custody and approximately 44,000 client accounts comprised of self-directed investors, financial institutions, capital syndicators, and financial advisors. Additionally, Pacific Premier Bank provides nationwide customized banking solutions to Homeowners’ Associations and Property Management companies. Pacific Premier Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. For additional information about

    Pacific Premier Bancorp, Inc. and Pacific Premier Bank, visit our website:

  • 10/31/2021 3:35 PM | Anonymous

    EconAlliance, Santa Barbara County liaison to the tri-County Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast (Consortium) charged with broadband enhancement across three counties, is conducting a community broadband survey in the communities of Santa Maria, Guadalupe and Lompoc (other communities to follow next month). We encourage you to complete the Community Broadband Needs Assessment at ONE of the links below (deadline for these three communities is November 15). Your input is valuable, as it will be analyzed with other input about broadband (high speed internet) needs and will be made available to any city, community or other entity applying for funding to enhance Northern Santa Barbara County internet connectivity.

    For questions about these surveys, please contact

    The survey for businesses & organizations is available online* in English at

    In Spanish, it is available for businesses and organizations at

    There is a separate survey for residents to complete. For the resident survey in English, see

    In Spanish, the survey for residents is available at 

    Thank you in advance for providing data for our Community Broadband Needs Assessment!

    EconAlliance thanks Pacific Premier Bank for its support of this important effort.

    *For assessment integrity, only one survey response submission (latest one submitted) will be saved from any one computer (earlier submissions will be over-ridden and lost). Any organization with distributed locations, umbrella nonprofits aligned with different entities, or households affiliated with other households, should submit only one survey per computer, encouraging subordinate or partner organizations or other organizations or households to submit responses on a different computer.

  • 09/16/2021 7:31 PM | Anonymous

    For the past few years, EconAlliance has greatly benefited from the economic development, initiative support and technical expertise of Lt. Col. Eric Larson (USAF, Ret). While we are sad to be losing him, our EconAlliance family wishes him all the best in his new position with Elbert County Government in Colorado, splitting his time between tasks for the County Manager and Economic Development Manager. 

    As COVID struck, EconAlliance leaned on Eric to help manage a robust series of informative webinars for Northern Santa Barbara County industry stakeholders. The excellent protocols he established to support webinar speakers and leverage post-webinar impact enabled the organization to provide timely and relevant workshops and important information to struggling economic stakeholders. After migration to a new web platform had lost some of our organization’s content, Eric’s rebuilding of the EconAlliance website was also appreciated.

    As a retired Air Force officer with space-related experience and a consultant with economic development experience, Eric was also an asset in EconAlliance’s launch of its Space Enterprise Initiative, recruiting a space executive for EconAlliance’s Future Forum panel and supporting the organization’s pre-COVID, STEM-related Vandenberg tours for high school students.

    Fortunately for Northern Santa Barbara County, Eric will remain active as a board member in two Guadalupe nonprofits as they complete projects he’s been involved. He will also continue to work with nonprofits for strategic planning and technology services. 

  • 09/13/2021 4:02 PM | Anonymous


    Winners of the first annual EconAlliance Cross-Industry Challenge Golf Tournament were announced August 23rd at an awards reception after a full-day of friendly cross-industry foursome competition at the Santa Maria Country Club. An event benefiting EconAlliance’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and workforce development programs, the Tournament featured nineteen foursomes across eight industries. Shred2You was the Tournament event sponsor, with Allan Hancock College, the Santa Ynez Chumash, and Southern California Gas as other key sponsors. Story continues below slideshow.


    The inaugural event featured two Tournament winning teams, with bragging rights secured by team names to be placed on the EconAlliance Cross-Industry perpetual plaque. Pacific Premier Bank (Brooks Wise, Alan Brand, Jeremy Moreno and Hank Opalinski) took Low Gross honors, with Visit Santa Ynez Valley (Shelby Sim, Michael Brugelli, Dieter Kronje, and Buddi Kazali) taking the Low Net over-all award. Each member of the winning foursomes received two bottles of local wine and four EconAlliance-etched glasses. In addition to Tournament over-all winners, EconAlliance recognized one winning team from each participating industry. Industry foursomes recognized included:

    Agriculture – Beachside Produce (John Jackson, Ryan Arensdorf, Glenn Davis)
    Development/Construction/Real Estate – Urban Planning Concepts (Laurie, Jeff, Jason Tamura, Brian Deile)
    Energy – Exxon/Plains (Steve Greig, Bryan Anderson, Chris Collier, Greg Wallis)
    Finance – The Hunstad Group (Michael Hunstad, Jeff Hood, Ryan Monie, Jeff Meyers)
    Manufacturing – Safran Cabin (Sakonh Souphantharong, Neptali Salinas, John Simko, Michael Smith)
    Retail – Fun w/Bill Brown-Duplicated Business Solutions (Bill Brown, Ty Ford, Steven Funkhouser, Jason Harris)
    Space – (Vandenberg players Julio Cano, Frank Fisher, Matt Sobczak, Anthony Vicich)
    Wine/Tourism – Chumash (Mike Stoker, Rhett Delozier, Rob Roy, Chris Wiesen)


    A 501c3 nonprofit organization, EconAlliance drives positive impact through strategic initiatives, unique partnerships and creative programs. The organization champions Northern Santa Barbara County communities and the key industry sectors that fuel these communities and inspire regional economic vitality.

    Contact: Victoria Conner

  • 09/12/2021 4:37 PM | Anonymous

    A flight test launch was conducted by Space Launch Delta 30, the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Northern Command at North Vandenberg Space Force Base. An element of the nation’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, a ground-based interceptor missile, successfully launched from North Vandenberg Space Force Base at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, according to base officials. The Santa Maria Times reports that Col. Robert Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander and decision authority, marked the launch a success.

    Today was another milestone in the longstanding partnership between Space Launch Delta 30 and the Missile Defense Agency,” Long said. “Once again, the combined team displayed their hallmark professionalism and ‘can-do’ attitude in making this a successful test.


Upcoming Events

  • No upcoming events

Sign Up for the Leaders' Digest Newsletter

First Name
Last Name
Email Address*
Please ignore this text box. It is used to detect spammers. If you enter anything into this text box, your message will not be sent.

Event News & Recaps


(805) 254-4479

540 E. Betteravia #234

Santa Maria, CA 93454

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software