Strengthening the local economy is Glenn Morris’ mission as leader of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. He explains why Aera’s neighboring oilfield redevelopment meets that goal.
Why do you endorse Aera’s East Cat Canyon project?
The Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s mission is to be a champion for our community. We firmly believe that the vitality of our community is tied directly to the strength and well-being of the businesses that drive our local economy. Strong businesses create jobs, provide tax revenue that supports public safety and quality of life services, contribute to our nonprofits and allow talented people to live and work here. Aera—and the oil and gas industry in general–help us meet all of those objectives. Aera’s East Cat Canyon project in particular will create high-quality jobs and millions of tax dollars every year for schools, law enforcement and other vital services. Aera’s investment in our community will strengthen our relationship with a company that has demonstrated its commitment to being a good neighbor.
Describe the Santa Maria area.
Santa Maria is located on the famed Highway 101 at the mid-point of California’s Central Coast. It’s the largest city in Santa Barbara County with a population of over 110,000. Santa Maria is the industrial, commercial, agriculture and retail hub for a region that includes approximately 165,000 residents located in northern Santa Barbara County and neighboring southern San Luis Obispo County.
Known for our famous Santa Maria-style barbecue and our many rolling grapevine-covered hills producing a fabulous wine industry, the Santa Maria Valley is becoming home to an increasing number of vineyards, wineries and winemakers. It’s already a longtime producer of many fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, Santa Maria is home to thriving industries, including aerospace, communications, high-tech research and development, energy production, military operations and manufacturing.
Where do you see California’s energy production heading?
California will continue to need oil and its derivatives for many years, even as we move toward other forms of energy. For however long that transition takes, we should insist that we maximize local supplies before we turn to foreign markets for imported oil. This will ensure that the oil we use is produced under the most stringent environmental and safety standards possible and that the economic benefit of the industry is invested here.