Businesses in the Hollister Farms Shopping Center. Photo by John Chadwell.
Businesses in the Hollister Farms Shopping Center. Photo by John Chadwell.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a series of articles on the draft 2040 General Plan. The first article is here, the second here and the third here.

The Economic Development Element of Hollister’s draft 2040 General Plan, a local government’s blueprint for growth, offers guidelines that are intended to strengthen the city’s economic health in the face of expanded residential growth. 

It focuses on supporting local retail businesses, improving opportunities for employment, decreasing the need for shopping outside of the city and increasing the focus on Hollister as a tourist destination.

The plan identifies areas where economic opportunities can be strengthened or improved and proposes a series of goals and objectives that cover all areas of potential business growth in the city:

Increasing overall economic development in Hollister

The plan suggests several actions, such as having dedicated staff members working to implement economic development programs, conducting studies to evaluate economic performance, and supporting local job training programs in schools to increase the pool of skilled workers. The Hollister City Council would receive a yearly report on economic growth, with recommendations for the next year’s goals.  

City Manager Dave Mirrione did not immediately respond regarding whether the city currently has dedicated staff on economic development programs. Hollister does have a one-year, $100,000 contractwith the Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County that ends in August. 

Ensuring the city has sufficient infrastructure for business expansion

Maintaining and upgrading the city’s infrastructure to accommodate both new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses is identified as a priority. A study would examine the state of the city’s roads, sewers, water, internet services and electrical capacity. A database would be developed to track available commercial and industrial sites and would include information on site topography, zoning, existing infrastructure connections and environmental concerns.

Attracting new retail business to Hollister

The plan identifies substantial “retail leakage” in Hollister, which is a measure of how much money is lost to businesses when residents have to go outside of the city for goods or services. Policies would be developed to support the expansion of existing retail businesses, attract types of businesses that are not already present, and require retail or mixed-use development in the West Gateway District instead of solely residential development. 

Making downtown Hollister the city’s retail and social center

The plan proposes reducing the number of vacant storefronts in the downtown area, encouraging new businesses along the lines of existing successful businesses, upgrading downtown infrastructure to support redevelopment and studying parking strategies to improve access. 

Adding more jobs

Promoting Hollister as a business destination would become a priority with the creation of a business attraction program in which Hollister would have a presence at regional and national business conferences. The city would also collaborate with existing businesses to understand their current needs and what they would need for future expansion.

Attracting more tourists

Creating more tourist accommodations, including campgrounds, RV parks, short-term rentals, and additional hotel and motel establishments, would also be a priority. The plan recommends looking into funding tourism-related activities with general fund allocations or an increase in the transient occupancy tax levied on hotels and motels. It states that the profile of the city could be raised to tourists by the city assisting establishments that highlight the local agriculture and wine industries. 

Strengthening existing businesses and filling in gaps in services

Besides prioritizing the expansion of existing manufacturing, construction and agriculture-related businesses, a study would be conducted to discover what types of businesses are underrepresented to help focus on what types of businesses would be actively encouraged to open in the city.

Streamlining the process for development approvals within industrial and business parks

Increasing transparency and making the permitting process less complicated, according to the plan, would make industrial development more efficient. A master plan would be developed to improve every aspect of the business park area, identifying shortages of land and deficiencies in infrastructure with the goal of accommodating a greater range of park tenants.

Support new development on airport property and near the airport

The plan calls for the creation of an airport master plan to assess needs, future land use and infrastructure upgrades. The city would consider offering incentives for additional industrial and aviation-related businesses on the airport property through permit streamlining and fee waivers. The airport would also be leveraged as an amenity for future businesses, with the encouragement of aviation-related businesses to relocate to the airport property.

According to the document, with this approach to nurturing existing businesses and encouraging a greater variety of new businesses, the General Plan’s intent is to make Hollister better known as a “hub of innovation” and a more inviting place for people outside of the city to spend their time and money.

According to the General Plan website, comments on the draft plan should be submitted by Aug. 7 so the City Council can consider community input when providing direction on the draft plans.

The City Council has a scheduled meeting on that date. The website adds that following the review of the draft plans, there will be a formal adoption process in the fall and comments will also be accepted at that time.

The city will also be accepting written comments on the Draft EIR until 5 p.m. on June 30. Written comments may be emailed to with “Hollister GPU 2040, CAP, and ALPP EIR” as the subject line, or mailed to:

City of Hollister Development Services Department – Planning Division

ATTN: Eva Kelly, Interim Planning Manager

339 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023

The city also has a website dedicated to the General Plan update, which includes the draft documents and scheduled events. It can be found here.

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