Juli Vieira, president/CEO of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation Oct. 10 to the county board of supervisors outlining the chamber’s efforts to promote the county, which included producing two videos: 100 Mile Meals and Discover San Benito, California, as well as a commercial produced at KSBW TV.
Vieira explained printed brochures, booklets and videos were funded by the 2016-17 allocation of $18,000 for economic development and tourism. Printed materials included 10,000 copies of the visitors guide. She said she hopes to print up to 12,000 copies next year. She showed the supervisors an example of the Central California Tourism Map, which she explained is a co-op between several counties and is distributed in hotels in West Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as visitor centers.
She said the chamber worked with Dunbar Productions to produce the two videos.
“The videos have been on Youtube since June, with 283 views,” she said. “On Facebook it hit 19,000 views and 390 shares. It’s currently loaded on the San Benito County website. They are also available at On Demand, which has 1.2 million households that can view them. It is a one-year contract, so it will show until June.”
Vieira said the 100 Mile Meals video is also available on 110 public access channels throughout the U.S. and will air for 12 months. She also said National Park Planning magazine and Big Blend Radio were also part of the media mix funded by the county. She anticipated more than 8.7 million page views of 44 different pages in National Park Planning promoting the county.
“On their (NPP) radio program they’ve done over 30 interviews with San Benito County members,” she said. “They’ve interviewed the Community Food Bank, the Community Foundation, and others, which are also included in their online magazine.”
She also said information about the county was published in Sunset International Magazine in 12 countries. There was another co-op production to target areas of Canada through Canada Traveler magazine.
White House Designates County as HIDTA Initiative
Captain Eric Taylor, of the San Benito County Sheriff’s office, announced that the White House designated the county, along with 15 others in 12 other states, was designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). He said the county used to be part of the South Bay Metro Initiative that includes southern Alameda County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.
“We were part of the task force because we had the Gilroy and Morgan Hill Police Departments as part of our unified narcotics enforcement team, but in 2014 both of those agencies removed themselves from our team, so we lost our connection to the HIDTA Initiative,” he explained. “HIDTA is an important component to the president’s national control strategy that provides additional federal resources to those areas to help eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and the harmful consequences.”
Taylor said there are currently 12 Bay Area counties that have initiatives. He said San Benito County is now the 13th county to join the Northern California HIDTA.
“The reason this is important for our county is that smugglers are using three Bay Area international airports to move illegal drugs and money,” he said. “There are also three deep-water ports that handle over 35,000 container ships a month. Commercial vehicles use our rural roads to traffic narcotics. We’ve increasingly become the target of drug organizations and cartels and the rural nature of our county makes us a route for criminal enterprises.”
He said there may be some one-time funding for the task force to provide equipment and training that the county would not be able to afford.
In a follow-up press release, Taylor explained further: “San Benito County has long been attractive to transnational criminal organizations. This is especially true for Mexican drug cartels and the illicit marijuana trade. Our county is attractive due to our very remote/rural nature and limited resources. We have major routes of distribution as we have major highways that traverse our county and connect the state. Because of this, the White House has named our county as one of 16 new initiatives in 13 states. We are the only new initiative in California.
“This task was taken on as a collaborative effort by UNET Task Force Commander Rich Westphal, DEA Resident Agent in Charge Mike Robinson (RET), Karen Sherwood, Deputy Director of NC HIDTA, and Mike Sena, Executive Director of NC HIDTA. The analysts for NC HIDTA worked diligently and collaboratively with state, federal and local agencies to complete our application and present it to the White House.”
New LBGT Youth Program
Alan Yamamoto, director of San Benito County Behavioral Health, announced a new county program that focuses on LBGT youth. He said the genesis of the program came about at the time of the mass shooting at a Florida club that targeted LBGT individuals. He said that after a town hall meeting to pursue a resolution to take a position on LBGT issues, he was concerned by the stories of abuse and discrimination he heard from the youth.
“The message I took away from that meeting was that we really needed to create a program to provide some support,” he said. “The ideal program for this is one funded by the Mental Health Service. We put together a plan that the board approved. We are funding that program and we are going to have a grand opening event.”
County to produce promotional video
Chase Graves, clerk of the board, outlined a video production effort to promote the county. He said CGI Communications would begin taping interviews with various county people in an effort to highlight business opportunities in the county. He showed the board an example of a CGI production promoting El Paso County, Colorado. He said because there is a sponsor for the video there would be no cost to the county