Women’s Fund Summit strives to inform

Luncheon at Paines provides small business guidance
stephanie hicks.jpg

The Women’s Fund, a special fund held by the Community Foundation for San Benito County, sponsored a summit luncheon at Paine's Restaurant in Hollister on Oct. 20. 

The “Celebrating Women in Business” summit offered three speakers. California State University, Monterey Bay's College of Business and Small Business Development Center worked in partnership with the Women’s Fund to share their expertise.

Marylou Shockley, department chair and professor at the CSUMB College of Business, spoke about what drew her to the world of business and lessons she learned about it early in life from her father.

Shockley reminded the luncheon guests that America is made up of small businesses. She said that statistically, large businesses are eliminating jobs while small businesses are expanding.

The audience was surprised by the figures Shockley quoted, for example, on a national level, only 2 percent of millenials want to be or are self-employed, whereas those numbers are 7 percent for Generation X and 8 percent for baby-boomers. She pointed out that the baby-boomer numbers are already reducing due to aging. 

Cindy Merzon, associate director of the CSUMB Small Business Development Center, invited women to become familiar with the council and its services. She said the office on the campus provides one-on-one counseling, workshops and help with market research. Merzon welcomed women to the center for small business guidance and help finding business loans.

Kristina Chavez Wyatt, president of Farmhouse Communications and executive director of the San Benito County Business Council, also spoke briefly. She said, “There are over 60 percent of the population leaving the county every day to go to work” while there are jobs available in the county. She mentioned a job fair being held the same day through the San Benito County “America’s Job Center, California." Businesses sponsoring the event were Pacific Scientific, Teknova, Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local Union 393 and Infinity Staffing. The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce and America’s Job Center were also sponsors of the fair.

Shockley said that today’s youth needs help learning how to work, how to earn and save money and need a better understanding of financial literacy. She said employers are finding that in general, this age group does not have a strong work ethic and are “entitled,” or “act like they are doing you a favor by coming to work every day.”  She said that they have trouble with the idea of “deferring what I want for a while so I can get what I need.” 

Questions from the attendees spurred conversation about “Junior Achievement” and the need for more and earlier youth training programs.

Shockley surprised the audience with the fact that, on average, youth in America today are not getting their first real, full-time job until they are 27 years old. “They’re not well-prepared,” she said, adding that employers are finding qualified employees can be difficult and that they require additional training.

The Community Foundation’s director of the Women’s Fund, Stephanie Hicks closed out the luncheon and asked for the community’s support and that it’s main focus is helping women in crisis and supporting youth programs. She said the Women’s Fund hopes to continue to offer helpful events like the luncheon in the future.  


Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.