March 26, 2023
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Street Smarts: Entrepreneurs in Santa Maria get a very early start


Santa Maria is learning to think young. Really young. Some 30 students in grades 5 through 7 are participating in the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Junior CEO program, and they will be selling their products at Santa Maria Town Center Mall after completing a six-week course that taught them how to start a business.

The program, which launches Nov. 20, is “part of a new community collaboration to help develop and retain local talent while increasing the pipeline of much needed leaders,” said Danny Deveraux, who chairs the chamber’s board of directors.

The program is administered by the chamber and supported by the California Strawberry Commission and Community Bank of Santa Maria.


Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton both received an “A” grade in the Fall 2021 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. The ranking by independent Leapfrog Group, ranks hospitals on their ability to protect patients from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections. Sierra Vista has achieved straight A’s since the ratings were launched in 2012.


• Santa Barbara-based Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation kicks off its Season of Hope campaign by requesting in-kind donations for Project Turkey, Project Christmas and Holiday Drive-Thru parties to provide resources to local families battling pediatric cancer. For information about donations contact Tessa Boyce at

• Central Coast Rescue Mission hosts its annual Thanksgiving meal in a to-go format at Santa Maria Foursquare Church on Nov. 19 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Throughout the holidays, donations can be made at or sent to P.O. Box 6467, Santa Maria, CA 93456.

• People’s Self-Help Housing as received a $15,000 grant from Mechanics Bank, which will support PSHH’s newest program: The Community Independence Initiative. The initiative is a pilot program where participants engage in personal development, financial education, and other activities aimed at promoting upward mobility. Twenty households will be selected for the pilot.

• Grammy-winning Music Director Michael Christie will lead the New West Symphony in a live Tales of Winter program of holiday classics and winter-themed fare. The concert will mark a return to the symphony’s regular venues in Thousand Oaks and Camarillo, and will present a new holiday masterwork by Pauline Frechette.

• Hospice of Santa Barbara celebrates its 38th annual Light Up a Life celebration with its second consecutive virtual event. The program remembers and honors the many that are missed this holiday season. The lighting of the HSB Tree of Remembrance will take place via Zoom featuring event emcee Rev. Julia Hamilton on Dec. 15 from 6 to 7 p.m.

• Ventura County Leadership Academy is looking for nominations for its annual awards, including business of the year, educator of the year and alumni of the year. More information at


United Way of Santa Barbara County has named Shari Liu Fellows to its board of directors. She is a celebrity interviewer and event producer with over 20 years of experience in the lifestyle sector. Formerly in modeling and fashion publishing, she has produced thousands of events and interviews. She operates through her firm, The Grayson Agency.


SEE-AG is offering fresh-cut silver-tip fir trees from northern California on sale to be picked up on Nov. 27 at Petty Ranch in Saticoy. Proceeds will help fund ag education and healthy eating programs for kids. The Nov. 27 tree pick-up hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


The Lompoc Valley Chamber is partnering with the Lompoc Parks & Recreation Department and the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board to present the 2021 Lompoc Valley Job Fair on Nov. 30 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center. More than 40 companies are participating.


• KUDOS: CSU Channel Islands Assistant Professor of Management Maria Ballesteros-Sola was named Educator of the Year by the Western Ventura County Business Alliance at Camarillo’s 54th Annual Top 10 Community Awards.

• RECOGNIZED: The North Santa Barbara County EconAlliance presents its annual dinner on Dec. 2 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott. Kudos to Innovation Award winner Chris Chirgwin.

• APPOINTED: Gavin Payne with GPC Advisors in San Luis Obispo has been appointed to the California Cradle-to-Career Data System Governing Board by Gov. Gavin Newsom. He formerly was with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

• LAUNCHED: The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has launched a new website at

• MATCHED: Jersey Mike’s matches Wreaths Across America purchases up to $300,000 to honor fallen heroes through Nov. 30.

• HAPPY 40th: Congrats to Sharon Green and Ultimate Sailing on 40 years of amazing photography on and off the water.