Information provided by Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County
Chairman of the Board for the Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County Aaron Johnston announced Renee Wells is the new executive director of the organization. Former executive director Marc Fontes assigned as the lead business development manager.
Johnston said Wells joined the organization in July 2021 “bringing her extensive knowledge of both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to the organization—and shares a passion for retaining the small-town feel of her community, where she’s lived with her husband for the past 21 years, while also seeking to see it expand and thrive.”
Wells has held numerous executive leadership positions, including 26 years as grants and contracts manager for the Menlo Park-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a number of years working in venture capital and for a law-enforcement training firm, and, more recently, managing a large portfolio of residential and commercial properties in San Benito, Salinas, and Monterey Counties while at the same time supporting a local food-equipment manufacturer, the release said.
Wells also serves as vice-chair of the Hollister Airport Advisory Commission, is president of Hollister Chapter 1264 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, is a member of the Hollister Airmen’s Association, and is in the process of obtaining her private pilot’s license.
“In her new role as executive director, Wells will serve as a key point of contact for business resources and development, foster relationships with stakeholders to promote and gain support for economic development initiatives, and help develop and coordinate polices, programs, and projects that support the economic development goals of San Benito County, including the Cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista,” Johnston said.
Fontes joined the Economic Development Corporation in March 2020 and has an extensive background in business retention, expansion, and recruitment.
“Fontes’ early career in planning and development reflects his work with local governments, including service in Irvine, Madera County, Contra Costa County, Vallejo, Hayward, and Santa Cruz,” the release states. “Prior to joining the EDC, Fontes worked for nine years as the City of San Ramon Economic Development Director and as the Deputy Director of the Redevelopment Agency. His dual role resulted in various projects, including retail attraction, a new police headquarters and planning permit center, expansion of a local automobile sales company, and a multijurisdictional Tourism Business Improvement District, or TBID.”
It continues to say that Fontes was also Business Development Manager for the City of Alameda for five years and was instrumental in the successful redevelopment of the Bridgeside shopping center and the retail revitalization of Park Street. Marc’s direct efforts also saved TheraSense and their 300 jobs when parent company Abbot Labs considered moving them to out of state.
“The Board of Directors’ are excited to announce this reorganization plan, which allows Renee to use her exceptional communication and organization skills to lead the organization; and allows Marc, with his extensive experience in economic development, to focus exclusively on business recruitment and expansion,” Johnston said.