Business / Economy

COMMENTARY: Is the local economy dying? Who is working to build our future?

There must be something other than homebuilding to spur the local economy

Besides nail salons and homebuilding, do you see any signs of economic investment in Hollister? Job creation in San Benito County?

The closure of Staples: I believe the closure of Staples in Hollister is a disaster for the owners of small businesses like me. Ordering online means a two day delay in delivery time. And for anyone who needs to make photocopies or send a fax between the time that Postal Graphics closes at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and businesses with publicly accessible photocopiers and fax machines open at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, you are now out of luck. Remember all the teachers and farmworkers in Staples at the photocopiers on a Sunday afternoon?

Although it was a national decision at corporate headquarters, why did the Staples in Gilroy and Morgan Hill stay open with less population than San Benito County?  Is it because neighborhoods where the houses cost $600K (Gilroy) and $800K (Morgan Hill) are viewed differently from here where the houses cost $300K? Did anyone (mayor, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation, Business Council) contact Staples officials and beg them to stay?

Exact figures may not be public information but we can guess they were a fairly significant source of jobs and sales tax revenues. The mayor of Hollister was quoted in the newspaper (which may or may not be accurate) with a rather blasé statement that the impact was minor because the Staples space would be re-rented. But for me, it’s more than just filling vacant commercial space that’s important — Staples offered unique products and services, seven days a week. (Yes, I did notice Target is carrying a few more office and computer supplies.)

Where’s Dollar Tree? When was the fire? April? There’s no sign of rebuilding. There’s so much vacant retail space for lease. Has someone in Hollister contacted Dollar Tree about relocating to one of the vacant spaces? Most Dollar Trees stores in other places (Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Marina) are much larger than the one in Hollister was. Hollister’s was always packed, so I assume another good source of jobs and sales tax.

Where are we heading? Who is doing something to influence our future? Can you name a single new business that has opened here in the last year besides nail/hair salons and Dickey’s Barbeque (which then closed due to drought interrupting their supplies)? Is there anyone besides the Hollister Downtown Association and California State University Monterey Bay’s Small Business Development Center working to attract new businesses, retain the ones we have, and/or support the expansion/success of local businesses?

Try the website of the San Benito County Economic Development Corporation. Most of the links are either empty or broken (Economic Forecast).

Please, can somebody work on attracting new businesses – including office supplies and photocopiers available on Sundays? Has Hollister died so much so that our only “economic activity” is homebuilding? After the construction workers leave, there’s a little more property tax value on the rolls, but what else? What is our future? And from where will come jobs for Hollister residents that pay at a level able to afford to buy the new homes?

Jennifer Coile

I moved to Hollister in 2001 because of my husband's local job. I'm a retired commuter/telecommuter working as a consultant in affordable housing, community development/planning, economic development and grant management. My volunteer work is generally devoted to cultural events for youth. I'm a founding board member of the Pinnacles Partnership in support of Pinnacles National Park. On November 19, 2012, Governor Brown appointed me to the Board of the 33rd District Agricultural Association/San Benito County Fair.