Mayors Brooks (Capitola), Dutra (Watsonville), Timm (Scotts Valley) & Meyers (Santa Cruz)
From clockwise upper left, mayors Yvette Brooks (Capitola), Jimmy Dutra (Watsonville), Derek Timm (Scotts Valley) and Donna Meyers (Santa Cruz) will discuss issues facing their communities during the ‘Four Mayors’ event on Friday, Feb. 5.
(Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerice)

‘Four mayors’ event links up Brooks, Dutra, Meyers & Timm to talk with Lookout, chamber

The mayors of Capitola, Watsonville, Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley will join Lookout and the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce for a 90-minute event this Friday, Feb. 5, at 1 p.m. Here’s how to sign up.

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy. Rail Trail is up for a big vote this week. And the Santa Cruz region just emerged from another round of climatic craziness: warmth and wildfires, followed by heavy rain.

What do top municipal leaders make of it all — and how does it affect their constituents and the business community? Lookout and the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to provide you with insight during a virtual event at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5.

Capitola Mayor Yvette Brooks, Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra, Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers and Scotts Valley Mayor Derek Timm will sit down virtually with Lookout editor Chris Fusco and correspondent Isabella Cueto for “a collaborative conversation” on the issues facing their communities. The event, which runs between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., costs $15 for chamber members and $20 for non-members. Anyone can register by clicking here.

As a preview of what’s to come, Lookout posed this question for the mayors to answer in advance:

What are two tangible ways local governments can support small businesses to help them survive the next six to 12 months amid the pandemic? Please be as specific as possible.

Here’s what they had to say:

Yvette Brooks: “The City of Capitola is currently reviewing options to utilize CDBG-CV dollars for economic development. The city anticipates it will be able to create approximately 25 grants of $7,500 each for businesses that are eligible. This is a way for the city to get money directly to our businesses to help them remain viable through the pandemic and to continue to provide important jobs in our community.”

“The City also has approved an extension of outdoor dining until May 2021, when we will then evaluate where we stand with the effects of the pandemic and hope to hear from their Business Association (BIA) and other business stakeholders to determine future needs.”

Donna Meyers: “Our Economic Development Department is evaluating now how we help our local businesses in the near term and long term. Our approaches include approval of restaurants for outdoor dining through next fall, examining our Downtown Plan for options regarding smaller lease and flexible spaces, working with our Federal elected officials to understand current legislation that will provide business relief and the timing for that funding so we can put it on the ground as quickly as possible, and using our Economic Development Trust Fund to assist businesses in the near term until immediate and long term Federal and State assistance arrives.”

“We are also looking at ways to keep Downtown as attractive as possible and working closely with the Downtown Association and the Downtown Management Corporation to hear from business owners, scope their needs and be responsive in the short and long term. We want to build back not just better but more intentionally with more opportunity for residents in housing affordability, in economic opportunity including a green job initiative currently being scoped, and the recognition that childcare is an important stabilizer for families as they return to the work force and stabilize their families.”

Derek Timm: “If the past year has taught us anything, it is that best laid plans need to be flexible because every day presents new unexpected challenges. Great entrepreneurs understand the need to pivot on short notice when the market changes, and the last year has presented those challenges on a weekly basis.

Shortly after the pandemic shutdowns started, I along with the then-Mayor and City Manager, started an economic recovery committee — and we polled businesses to find out where they needed the most help. At first the main need was access to PPP and information on how to navigate government funding programs. The City began addressing those needs, which laid the groundwork for weekly meetings on economic recovery. We partnered with our local Chamber, creating a similar task force with local business leaders. Over the past year we have held forums with businesses to better understand their needs, and are in constant contact with our shopping center owners and businesses to understand which businesses are suffering the most. Our goal was make sure Scotts Valley still had the thriving small business community past-pandemic that it had before March of 2020.”

“So far, our efforts have paid off, with little attrition among our businesses in Scotts Valley. However, we are far from out of the woods. Since the beginning of the year, we have been helping businesses apply for the California Small Business Grant program, preparing for lending on the NDC non-recourse loan program and communicating information on the latest round of PPP funding in the Covid Relief bill passed at the end of the year. We are also promoting a shop local campaign around Valentine’s Day (similar to the programs we did over the Holiday season that had passports to encourage community engagement). We are also are undertaking regular outreach and polling to make sure we are addressing the areas of biggest need. The health of our City is tied directly to the health of our businesses, and nourishing them at this time should be a top priority for every City. With that said, we have also been sharing out to other jurisdictions and chambers the information and work we have been doing to get our region through to a new day.”

For biographies of everyone involved in the event, click here, and, again, anyone can register by clicking here.