Eric Onnen, Miye Ota Honored as Goleta’s Finest Man and Woman of the Year

For 69th year, Goleta Chamber of Commerce brings business and community together to celebrate ‘heartbeat’ of Goleta.

On Friday, November 16th, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce continued a 69-year tradition of honoring remarkable individuals, businesses and organizations whose contributions have enhanced the community.

The packed annual gala at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara opened with a cocktail reception and buffet in the resort’s ballroom.

Some 400 well-dressed guests attended the celebration, and the honorees were invited on stage to make brief remarks.

“It’s always a special night — you can always feel the heartbeat of Goleta’s community spirit and feel the history,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta chamber, who also recognized the organization’s board members, sponsors and elected officials in the audience.

“Our community awards celebration is one of the many ways that business and the community comes together.”

Hallie Avolio, the chamber’s board chairwoman and sales and marketing director at family-owned Latitude 34˚ Technologies, served as the evening’s emcee.

“The chamber is truly celebrating our fantastic community,” she told the audience. “We recognize that our community is not only made up of businesses but volunteers, nonprofits, educators, students, entrepreneurs and many people who go out of their way to give back to the great city of Goleta.”

The 2018 Goleta’s Finest winners were:

Man of the Year: Eric Onnen

Eric Onnen, co-founder of Santa Barbara Airbus and a former Goleta mayor and councilman, was recognized for his commitment as a civic leader, volunteer and business owner. He was described as a pillar in the Goleta Valley community for more than 35 years.

Onnen was born in the Midwest and attended UC Santa Barbara. He served one term on the City Council, including an appointed one-year term as mayor in 2009, and is a former city planning commissioner, former Goleta chamber board member and a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Goleta.

In 1983, Onnen co-founded Santa Barbara Airbus. The locally owned and Old Town Goleta-based company serves Southern California and is know for its familiar buses running to and from Los Angeles International Airport. The company employs about 60 people and operates more than 20 vehicles.

Onnen received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“I almost feel like I know all of you here this evening, and have had some direct contact with you in my life in Goleta,” he said.

Thanking his family, colleagues and friends, he said he appreciated “the support and the feeling of love.”

“I’ve been incredibly blessed to have a sense of place, a place that I believe is important,” Onnen said. “The thing that makes Goleta so special is the people who are in it.”

Woman of the Year: Miye Ota

With an entrepreneurial spirit and deep family roots in Goleta, 100-year-old Miye Ota was honored as one of the founding members of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, and the only woman on its board.

Ota and her late husband, Ken, were both champion ballroom dance teachers, and spent decades teaching aikido class and cultural classes.

“We taught the kids to dance with feeling,” she said.

The Otas taught for more than 40 years in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito and at UCSB.

Ota’s popular beauty parlor was a fixture in Old Town Goleta for decades.

She, too, received a standing ovation.

Ota broke out into an impromptu song during her acceptance speech.

“Thank you all, and I love you all,” she said.

Small Nonprofit of the Year: Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County 

The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, a nonprofit financing agency and community development financial institution, was honored for its mission of expanding affordable housing opportunities for low-to-middle income residents and workers in the county.

The organization helps maintain the local socio-economic fabric by addressing the fundamental building block of healthy communities — housing that is affordable to local workers and residents.

In 2018, the Housing Trust Fund launched the $3.5 million Workforce Housing Homebuyer Program, providing down payment assistance loans to the workforce.

Large Nonprofit of the Year: St. Vincent’s 

St. Vincent’s was honored as the longest-running area nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening low-income families and seniors.

It was recognized for establishing Santa Barbara County’s first infirmary for children, providing low-income housing for families and seniors and for the Daughters of Charity that helped shape the community beginning in 1858.

St. Vincent’s is celebrating 160 years of operation this year.

Volunteer of the Year: Tony Vallejo 

Longtime business leader Tony Vallejo was honored for his passion for volunteering.

Vallejo has served Goleta residents and businesses for more than 20 years through his work advising local business owners as a certified public accountant.

He is well-known for serving on several nonprofit boards like the Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club of Goleta, United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County, the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, UCP Works, the Goleta Old Town Community Association, the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and the Go Red for Women steering committee.

Vallejo grew up in Carpinteria, attended UCSB and has lived in the Goleta Valley ever since.

“There’s nothing better than helping your community,” he said during his acceptance speech. “It’s a great way to spend your time. Find a cause you believe in.”

Student of the Year: Nolan Montgomery

Dos Pueblos High School senior Nolan Montgomery was recognized for spearheading efforts to raise money for Montecito disaster relief through a January benefit community concert at the school.

Montgomery quickly organized the musical tribute benefit concert, which brought together talented youth performers from across the South Coast and raised about $8,000 for the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund.

In addition to his event planning skills, he also starred in Dos Pueblos’ production of Newsies; is an anchor of DPNews, the school’s media news department; is a Santa Barbara Teen Star winner; and also volunteers in the community.

Upon graduation in June, Montgomery plans to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree in music theater and audition for Broadway.

Educator of the Year: Amanda Fox 

Amanda Fox, a special education professional and psychologist at Kellogg School in the Goleta Union School District, was acknowledged for providing highly skilled counseling services and a loving kindness that envelops the students in her care.

Kellogg School received the honor of a California Distinguished School this year, and Principal Kimberly Bruzzese largely gave credit to Fox for leading the intervention program for which the school was ultimately recognized.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Beverly Doman

Beverly Doman, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes, was recognized for thriving in a difficult market, her unwavering spirit and community involvement.

Doman’s business at 5784 Calle Real in the Calle Real Center provides support to many area nonprofit organizations by donating hand-decorated and fresh-baked signature bundt cakes, bundtinis and bundtlets.

Old Town Business of the Year: Santa Barbara Cider Co.

Santa Barbara Cider Co. was honored for adding new flavor to the brew scene in Old Town. Owner Ben Schroeder embraces the “funkier-zone” in Old Town Goleta with a thriving cider business.

Small Business of the Year: Por La Mar Nursery

Family-owned Por La Mar Nursery was recognized for its thriving agriculture business along South Patterson Avenue.

Ron Caird, a horticulturalist, and his family have operated the business since 1972, and Por La Mar prides itself as being the first American grown certified potted plant producer in the United States since 2015.

The business stretches across 120 acres behind Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, and the family has employed many residents for generations.

Large Business of the Year: KARL STORZ Imaging

Internationally renowned KARL STORZ Imaging was honored as one of Goleta’s largest employers and a leader in advanced minimally invasive endoscopic technology.

The high-tech company put down roots in the city by purchasing its building along South Los Carneros Road in 2014.

The business employees nearly 400 people.

The family-owned company has grown into a global manufacturer and distributor of medical instruments, endoscopes and devices since its inception in 1945.

Special Recognition of the Year: Santa Barbara Support Network

Santa Barbara Support Network was honored for organizing essential and heartfelt outreach to victims of the deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows in Montecito.

Hastily organized by a group of Washington School moms and led by local attorney Tara Ford, its mission is to support the immediate needs of families who have lost homes, family members and belongings. The group played a critical role linking residents with community resources such as housing and temporary work.

Goleta Mayoral Candidates Paula Perotte and Michael Bennett Face Off at Chamber Candidate Forum

Two Goleta mayoral hopefuls faced off for the first time Friday, discussing issues such as workforce housing, Old Town and the city’s economic vitality during a debate hosted by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

The November election will represent the first time that Goleta residents will vote for a directly elected mayor to serve a two-year term.

Incumbent Mayor Paula Perotte and Councilman Michael Bennett shared their perspectives on a wide range of city issues and policies at the forum and luncheon held at Glen Annie Golf Course. The candidates had two minutes to respond to each question.

Perotte began her term as mayor in December 2016. She was first elected to the council in 2010, and she was re-elected without opposition in 2014. She served three years as the mayor appointed by the City Council.

A 35-year Goleta resident, Perotte serves on a number of committees and boards spanning housing, transportation and social services. Her experience includes working as a piemaker and bus driver, serving 15 years with the parent-teacher association, working at her family’s high-tech business and advocating for children through the Community Action Commission.

Bennett was elected to the City Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014. He served as mayor in 2013 and 2008.

For 36 years, Bennett served as a firefighter and battalion chief. He has led efforts for a new fire station, peak-hour train service and a multimodal transit center.

Bennett said he would balance development, protect the environment and strengthen the economy.

City’s Role in Providing Housing for the Next Generation

Businesses in Goleta cite the lack of housing for their workforce in the top three barriers to business, according to Trevor Large, the event’s moderator and Goleta Chamber of Commerce board member, and there isn’t much more housing in the pipeline.

In regard to the city providing housing for the next generation and making progress on providing a variety of levels of workforce housing, Bennett said: “Given the opportunity to provide housing, I would support it — I think it’s critically important.”

He spoke of housing development that would benefit the whole community.

Perotte noted that Goleta has added new housing units in the city, adding, “We need to make sure those 1,000 units are sustainable.”

She said she believes there’s a need for housing that “serves a certain population,” such as the workforce, while maintaining the character of Goleta. She noted the city’s efforts, such as Goleta’s ADU (or average unit density zoning) ordinance.

“Hopefully, that will help some folks that want to live and work here,” Perotte said.

She also suggested encouraging employers “to provide housing for their workers,” as well as the city partnering with private, nonprofit and government agencies to support affordable housing projects.

Vision for Old Town Goleta

Goleta residents cited in a recent survey conducted by the city that Old Town is one of their top priorities, Large said. The city seems divided on whether to improve the area at the direction for residents of Old Town or for all Goleta residents who want to enjoy that area as a downtown, he said.

The mayoral candidates discussed their priorities for moving forward on the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s vision of “placemaking” in Old Town.

Perotte said some residents tell her that “Old Town is a mess,” and the city isn’t doing enough in a visionary plan for revitalizing the area. Other residents tell her to “leave us alone, it’s just fine.”

Perotte said she’s happy listening to both sides of the discussion, in addition to the opinions of business leaders.

“I think there’s more that the city can do, and I look forward to working with the Chamber (of Commerce),” Perotte said, noting Old Town’s roadway, bicycle and sidewalk projects in the works.

Developing trust in the residents, Perotte said, is important, adding that she thinks “there’s a sense that we are trying to take over and make it into something that it isn’t.”

Bennett said the San Jose Creek project was an “instrumental improvement” to the Old Town community. The project constructed capacity improvements to the creek channel that increased the design from a 25-year to a 100-year storm event.

“I was on the council when it first came before us,” he said, “and pushed very hard to make that happen.”

Bennett said the replacement of the Hollister Avenue Bridge over San Jose Creek reduces flooding and related impacts within Old Town. Construction is expected to begin next year.

“I’ve been supportive of the activities in Old Town,” Bennett said, noting the Old Town Goleta Christmas Parade.

Goleta’s Economic Vitality

Many cities invest in economic development to sustain or improve their revenue from transient occupancy tax, commercial retail sales tax and general business vitality, Large said. Goleta recently signaled the departure from economic development with its contract with the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, and then restored it to previous levels.

Bennett and Perotte described how they see themselves championing to increase the city’s economic vitality and their working relationship with the business community through the Chamber of Commerce.

“Since first elected, I worked with all people within our community,” listening to all residents and trying the best to balance the community needs, Bennett said.

He added, “Hotels are a good thing in our community. I was excited about the hotels. They were part of the original General Plan.”

He spoke proudly of Goleta’s Hilton Garden Inn rooftop deck, calling it “something special” in the city.

He said he supports the 118-suite Residence Inn by Marriott along Hollister Avenue.

“Those new hotels provided the transient occupancy tax, which will ultimately allow us to do the kinds of things that people think are important in our community,” Bennett said.

He said he also supports residents and UC Santa Barbara graduates along the path of entrepreneurship, he said. He mentioned his supportive record of the city’s 965,000-square-foot Cabrillo Business Park office spaces.

Perotte said the city’s role in encouraging economic development includes partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, adding that she recently read the organization’s mission statement and “fully agrees” with it. She said the mission of the chamber is to enhance the vibrant quality of life where businesses, residents and visitors can thrive.

“We are on the same page,” she told the crowd, adding, “It’s important that we respect our environment and natural beauty.”

Regarding hotels in Goleta, Perotte said: “I support some of the hotels.” She didn’t specify the hotel projects that she supports.

“Goleta is a great city, and I want to keep it that way,” she continued.

Goleta Water District Board Candidates

The event also included brief remarks from Councilman Roger Aceves, who automatically will be re-elected as he has run unopposed, and James Kyriaco, a newcomer who will take a council seat in December as a result of running unopposed.

The four candidates in the Nov. 6 race for the two open seats on the Goleta Water District board of directors also participated in Friday’s discussion, including Thomas Evans, a water resources engineer; Matias Eusterbrock, an environmental analyst; Bobbi McGinnis, a real estate agent; and Kathleen Werner, a retired water chemist. All shared their plans of leadership if elected to the board.

Meg West and Jack Cunningham are not running for re-election on the board.

The district, which serves about 87,000 people in the Goleta Valley, has five governing board members who serve four-year terms.

2018 Goleta’s Finest Nominations are Open

On Friday, November 16th the Goleta Chamber of Commerce will be honoring
Goleta’s Finest with a “Celebration of Our Community” at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. If you know of someone within our community deserving special recognition for their
activities, then here is your chance to nominate them for this prestigious award.   

To nominate, please click on the link below, and fill out the attached 

nomination form. Several recommendations may be made, but only one for each 

category should be submitted. 

Nominations must be turned in by Friday,  September 14, 2018.

Categories for nominations are as follows: Small Business of the Year, Large 

Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Educator of the Year, Student of the Year, Non-profit of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Woman of the Year and Man of the Year.

Click here to submit a nomination!

Introducing the 2018 Goleta Magazine

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is excited to launch the 2018-2019 Goleta Magazine, featuring the stories of the people who work, play and innovate and make Goleta a great place to be. This year’s cover features Tony Arroyo, founder of Los Arroyos, and his son, Diego. Los Arroyos has been a Santa Barbara staple for generations and we are so proud to have their delicious cuisine in Calle Real Center.

Other featured articles include: Apeel Sciences, Brighten Solar, Por La Mar Nursery, Michael Baker, John Dent and Karen Ramsdell.

The digital magazine will launch next week. To request a hard copy of the magazine, please contact

Chamber Presents Annual TechTopia Summit

Business leaders from across the south coast gathered to celebrate our high-tech business community at the 2018 TechTopia Summit. The event, attended by 140 people, included an economic development bus tour around Goleta highlighting new businesses, new housing opportunities and other significant capital improvement projects.

Attendees reconvened in the Deckers Brands Rotunda for a robust program featuring a report on industry clusters from Josh Williams of BW Research Partners and an update on the Workforce Homebuyer Program from Housing Trust Fund President, Jennifer McGovern. Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce spoke to Goleta’s position as a high-tech hub. Miller launched the 2018-2019 Goleta Magazine, Goleta’s premier magazine featuring stories of local businesses, non-profits and residents.
The program ended with a panel of business leaders sharing their experience growing a business in Goleta. Panelists were: Scott Romesser, LogMeIn; Yifeng Wu, Transphorm; Ben Schroeder, Founder, Santa Barbara Cider and Rick Spitzer, KARL STORZ Imaging.
Goleta prides itself on being a business-friendly center for world-class innovation and entrepreneurs.  The Chamber continues to showcase the successes and challenges of our unique high-tech community.

Chamber and City Partner on 11th State of the City

Growth and the faces who make up the Goleta council were at the forefront Friday afternoon during the 11th annual State of the City address.

Mayor Paula Perotte used her speech to highlight the recent growth of the area and to credit the work of two council members who were elected in 2016.

“Council members (Stuart) Kasdin and (Kyle) Richards are adding their new ideas and energy to those of our other council members’ long experience,” she told more than 400 business representatives, elected officials and residents gathered inside The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. “This team positions us to turn the page for a new and even brighter future.”

Acknowledging UC Santa Barbara’s growth, Perotte touched on the topic of new housing and development in Goleta, suggesting to “stop and deal with the impacts of recent growth,” including critical services to residents such as road capacity, water, parking, recreation and public safety.

“I’m not saying that we can or should stop all growth,” Perotte said. “We can all agree our residents want a carefully managed, sustainable growth that is appropriate to the spirit of our General Plan.”

Perotte advocated for enhancing the character of Goleta while following a sustainable course of growth that is “appropriate” with the planning tool that establishes expectations for Goleta’s future as well as its natural and built environment. She again noted Kasdin and Richards.

“Goletans made this clear last election by voting council members Kasdin and Richards, who both ran on better casing for greater growth,” Perotte said. “Since they were elected, no new large projects have been approved.”

Perotte said Goleta has “added over 1,000 new housing units in Goleta in just a few years.” She added that “many supported housing to keep our local employers and workers, but new housing units alone do not attract workers — potential recruiters, new workers and current residents expect and desire a high quality of life.”

Sustainability, road and sidewalk improvement projects, and other infrastructure work were common topics addressed by Perotte. In addition, continuing to develop plans for Old Town Goleta upgrades as well as an increase in recreational space and High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk signals were mentioned.

“The state of the city of Goleta is strong — I’d even say vibrant, vigorous and vivacious,” Perotte said at the Goleta Chamber of Commerce event. “We are on a positive, upward trajectory.”

She addressed the effort to reduce vehicle traffic congestion with the peak-hour Amtrak Pacific Surfliner passenger train and noted Goleta’s looming environmental challenges such as monitoring hydrogen sulfide and dealing with transportation and the “possibility” of oil drilling.

The decommissioning of Venoco’s assets — Platform Holly off the coast of Goleta and the Ellwood Onshore Facility processing plant near Haskell’s Beach — “will need attention,” she said.

Goleta City Manager Michelle Greene gives an overview of the city’s financial outlook.

Goleta City Manager Michelle Greene gives an overview of the city’s financial outlook. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The mayor spoke of the city’s direct management and operation of the Goleta Municipal Library starting July 1, and noted the goal of improving library services.

She also emphasized the Monarch Butterfly Inventory and Habitat Management Plan at the Ellwood Mesa to protect the safety of trees, sensitive habitat and public.

In her overview of the city’s financial outlook, City Manager Michelle Greene said Goleta’s financial picture is stable, with the projected revenues at $25.7 million and the projected expenditures at $24.8 million.

Goleta’s general fund is expected to end the fiscal year with an unobligated balance of more than $1.2 million, she said.

According to Greene, the city’s transient occupancy tax, or TOT, sales tax and property taxes make up 85 percent of Goleta’s total revenue. TOT generated about $8.6 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year and was expected to generate $9.2 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to Greene.

The projection reflects an increase in TOT related to the opening of hotels operating in the city and room occupancy spiking during Santa Barbara County’s twin disaster events, she said.

Greene said sales tax posted a slight increase, producing $6.5 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year to a projected $6.5 million in the current fiscal year.

“Despite the growth, the city remains conservative in its projections for future years because we are seeing the impacts of online sales on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers,” Greene said.

Change in the retail landscape means shifts in sales tax allocation, according to Greene.

She said property tax is expected to increase slightly this year, rising to about $6.5 million. Among other encouraging numbers, she said, the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent in Goleta.

“The state of our city is positive,” Greene said. “We are working hard to enhance our reserve funds, so we have the resources available for projects and to serve our community.”

Planning Director Peter Imhof briefly spoke at the event.

— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Chamber Endorsed Commuter Rail Opening April 2nd

The Chamber is very pleased to announce a new early morning Pacific Surfliner train will be running from Los Angeles and Ventura counties to Santa Barbara and Goleta. Service is planned to begin on April 2, 2018. When combined with existing southbound Pacific Surfliner service in the afternoon, the new morning train will make it possible to travel to work in Santa Barbara county via rail.

“The 15,000 residents who daily travel the 101 corridor will soon have a new transportation option that can get them out of traffic. Passenger rail is an excellent alternative to driving alone that saves time and money,” said Michael T. Bennett, Goleta City Councilmember and the SBCAG Board representative. “This new service is coming at the perfect time as traffic congestion on the 101 has recently increased because of impacts from the Montecito debris flow and the closure of Highway 192”.

A partial list of the new schedule and train stations is listed below:

Northbound (AM) #759
Camarillo 5:46
Oxnard 5:58
Ventura 6:12
Carpinteria 6:34
Santa Barbara 6:47
Goleta 7:16


Southbound (PM) #792
Goleta 4:25
Santa Barbara 4:40
Carpinteria 4:55
Ventura 5:26
Oxnard 5:40
Camarillo 5:56


“Goleta has always been a pioneer in using all innovative and modern workplace policies to enhance our employees’ quality of life from bike lockers, to flex time and remote working,” said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “Commuter rail is in line with this thinking and a great option for our employees.”

Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District shuttle buses will be available from the Santa Barbara and Goleta train stations to connect train passengers to worksites downtown and in Goleta as well as Cottage Hospital locations. Bike lockers will also be available for passengers who’d like to store bicycles to ride the last mile to work. Train passes will also be valid on all VCTC Coastal Express buses if commuters prefer to take the train one direction and a bus on the other leg of their commute.

Monthly passes for this service will be available and special promotions for the first month will be announced soon. Commuters looking to work later than the departure time may also use their tickets for the evening Pacific Surfliner Train. The Chamber will continue to publish details as they are announced.

For more information on this service, click here…

Congressman Salud Carbajal releases updated Disaster Recovery Guide

Congressman Salud Carbajal releases updated Disaster Recovery Guide. Click here for the updated recovery guide..

A message from Congressman Salud Carbajal:

Our region has experienced one of the worst fires in California’s history. The Thomas Fire forced thousands of

people to evacuate their communities, destroyed thousands of homes, and left many families with nothing.

The Thomas Fire, which started on December 4th, 2017, has burned more than 272,000 acres. The fire has destroyed over a thousand structures, many of which are homes. Thousands of people were displaced and a Cal Fire engineer from San Diego died battling the blaze.

Severe rainfall following the Thomas Fire created devastating mudslides in Montecito, California on January 10th, 2017. At least 20 residents were killed in the storm and more than 500 homes were destroyed in the slide.

Funds from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be available to help individuals rebuild, repair and replace housing and other personal property not covered by insurance.

Individuals who were impacted by the fires or storm should apply for FEMA assistance. You can apply in the following ways:

  • Online at; (Spanish)
  • Via smartphone at; (Spanish)
  • Constituents may call the registration phone number at 1-800-621-3362; those who have a speechdisability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 orVideo Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
  • Visit a Disaster Recovery Center

Goleta Chamber Welcomes 5 Business Leaders to Board of Directors

Organization gives Ambassador of the Year Award to Emily Atkins and Chairman’s Award to Marty Plourd

From left, Kristen Miller, president/CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, with board members Tony Vallejo, CPA; Renee Grubb, Village Properties; Matt Long, Signature Flight Support; Rich Nahas, Glen Annie Golf Club; and Hallie Avolio, Latitude 34 Technologies and chairwoman of the chamber board. (Not pictured is Donna Lewis, Goleta Union School District.)Click to view larger

From left, Kristen Miller, president/CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, with board members Tony Vallejo, CPA; Renee Grubb, Village Properties; Matt Long, Signature Flight Support; Rich Nahas, Glen Annie Golf Club; and Hallie Avolio, Latitude 34 Technologies and chairwoman of the chamber board. (Not pictured is Donna Lewis, Goleta Union School District.) (Goleta Chamber of Commerce photo)

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce has welcomed five business leaders from a variety of Goleta industries to join Chamber’s board of directors.

The new members include Renee Grubb, Donna Lewis, Matt Long, Rich Nahas, and Tony Vallejo. They were announced at Goleta’s Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday night at the new Hilton Garden Inn Spyglass Rooftop.

The evening also celebrated outgoing board members Dave Clark and Francois DeJohn.

The chamber gave the Ambassador of the Year Award to Emily Atkins and the Chairman’s Award to Marty Plourd.

“The year ahead looks bright in Goleta,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll continue to build on our core strengths of growing local high-tech businesses, strengthening the local economy and capitalizing on tourism revenue to enhance our community and quality of life for all.”

At the event, Miller said: “We are so grateful to come together tonight, as a business community, and friends, to celebrate. The last six weeks have been an unprecedented time in our community. These events leave us wondering how we move forward and at the chamber we strongly believe that we should lean on each other; gather our community, work toward recovery and hold onto our hope for the future.

“Our first responders, government agencies and community have stepped up in so many ways over the past few weeks that it reminds us what a special place we live in, and gives us hope for our future and our community.”

The chamber represents 450 members and 35,000 jobs in the Goleta Valley.

“More importantly we strive to be relevant to your business,” Miller said. “We are working on things that matter to you, things that make a difference in the Goleta economy, and ways that business and government come together to improve our business community.

The Chamber in 2018 will continue to work on business issues including housing, transportation infrastructure, water supply, regulation and workforce development, Miller said.

— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

2017 Goleta’s Finest Winners Announced: Community Awards Gala will be December 2nd

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the 2017 Goleta’s Finest Award Winners. Goleta’s Finest is a 68-year old tradition honoring remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community.

The 2017 award recipients will be honored with a formal celebration on Saturday, December 2nd, 6:00-9:30 p.m. at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Bacara.  The evening will include food stations, wine and beer, followed by the awards ceremony.

The 2017 Goleta’s Finest winners are:

Man of the Year: Roger Aceves

Roger Aceves is serving his 11th year on the Goleta City Council, serving two terms as Mayor – he has never missed a meeting. Roger is a lifetime resident and community activist. After finishing his 30-year law enforcement career at the Santa Barbara Police Department, Roger has continued to give back to our community. Aceves served as El Presidente for Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara in 2001, and was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis to the 19th Agricultural District, which runs Earl Warren Showgrounds. He served on the board of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Goleta Valley Historical Society, Goleta Old Town Community Association and is currently Chairman of the Board for the Goleta Elks Lodge #613. Roger is a champion for the business community and rarely misses a B2B Breakfast to connect with business and his local constituents. Last year, along with his wife, Debby, Roger championed a community campaign and raised $22,000 for Rancho La Patera and Stow House.

Woman of the Year: Karen Ramsdell
Karen Ramsdell is a longtime Goleta resident and champion for education and historical preservation. After 29 years at Santa Barbara Airport, and 37 years of public service with the City of Santa Barbara, Karen retired from her post as Director of the Santa Barbara Airport in 2013. In her position at Airport Director, Karen led the Airline Terminal Project, the $63 million-dollar renovation of our airport. Her passion for historical preservation helped her spearhead the relocation and refurbishment of the Earle Ovington Historical Terminal. Post retirement, her love for history and willingness to give back has continued. Karen has served as president of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society and has been on the board of the Goleta Valley Historical Society since 2010, serving as president for the last four years.

Educator of the Year:
John Dent
John Dent leads the Dos Pueblos Media Department with passion, talent and energy. As chairman of Dos Pueblos’ Career Technical Education Department, Dent is the advisor for the DP News program, the award-winning Dos Pueblos Yearbook, and The Charger Account student-run newspaper. While DP News runs a live show three days a week focusing on the latest information for students, the Charger Account focused on stories relevant to the student body including those happening on campus and in the community. The award-winning DP Yearbook continues to transform the way students’ years are captured. These projects could not happen without Dent motivating his students to continue to innovate and develop professional journalism skills.

Non-Profit of the Year: United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County
United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County is making a true impact in the lives of the kids in our community. The non-profit youth development agency serves children ages 5-18 years old, at 9 locations across Santa Barbara County. As of July 31, 2015 club members have collectively made 15,889 visits to club locations. Those same members have participated in 2,785 cumulative hours of educational programming. During that same time period UBGC has served 35,010 meals. No child is ever turned away due to their economic situation. Participants in the program are continuing to come more often which allows the program to have a deeper impact. The Goleta club location has been an integral part of our community for many, many years and is well loved for its many programs including the boys basketball league.


Volunteer of the Year: Lisa Rivas

Lisa has been a long-time champion for Goleta and education. In business and personal life Lisa continues to engage with a variety of local non-profits. She has been on several non-profit boards including the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Teachers Fund, The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region and the Goleta Lemon Festival to name a few. Most notably, in 2014, Lisa stepped up to rebuild the Goleta Education Foundation. With a goal to transform the all-volunteer organization into a foundation that secures funding for programs to ensure every student in the district has access to the necessary resources, Lisa worked tirelessly to put together a variety of fundraisers, connect with local businesses and create a sustainable program that serves all schools in the Goleta school district.

Student of the Year: Lupe Simon

Lupe Simon stands out in a way that is subtle. After facing challenges through her youth, she sought out the assistance of the Academy for Success program and has thrived personally and academically. Lupe has vastly improved her academics and has continued to challenge herself and push herself outside of her personal comfort zone. She applied for the Yearbook and was accepted and has excelled in Advanced Photography. She is a community builder with her grace and kindness. She is a scholastic contributor with her insight and determination. Lupe plans to go to college next, which was something she was unsure she could ever achieve.

Small Business of the Year:
Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray
Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, LLP is one of California’s leading law firms, but what sets them apart is their dedication to our local community. Partners at BFAS are deeply involved in their communities serving on a variety of non-profit boards including the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Santa Barbara, NAWBO and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region to name a few. Their commitment to community ensures that essential non-profits have access to legal acumen, a wide network of supporters and volunteers with a passion for Goleta.

Large Business of the Year: FLIR Systems
FLIR Systems is one of our area’s largest employers and a leader in the infrared market. FLIR acquired Indigo Systems, a start-up out of UCSB, in the early 2000’s and quickly became the world leader for uncooled infrared devices. Indigo’s small, entrepreneurial staff and FLIR’s sales channel, brand name and financial standing combined to create a perfect storm of productivity and profitability. The company has laid down their roots in Goleta by purchasing their facility at Cabrillo Business Park and moving its 450 employees into one facility there. FLIR is a champion for manufacturing in the USA and a pioneer for lean manufacturing in Goleta.


Innovative Business of the Year: Brighten Solar

Brighten Solar is changing the way solar technology is delivered by creating customized solar solutions, delivering quality products and continuing to focus on spreading the renewable energy footprint. Their team has developed systems for Commercial, Residential, and Non-Profits across the central coast and remain focused on solar education and providing their clients with a range of options and pricing to develop the best systems. Jeremy and Marine have built a great company, based on their genuine passion for renewables and the environment


Entrepreneur of the Year: Apeel Sciences

Apeel Sciences is changing the world through their use of plant-based technology, helping to eliminate food spoilage and reduce reliance on chemicals. With a mission to waste less food, Apeel has developed products hat fortify the surface of fresh fruits and vegetable, forming a thin, organic, barrier that shields produce from both biotic and abiotic stressors. Apeel Sciences is committed to being a technological and environmental leader in the agricultural industry. Their team, made up of nearly 75% Gauchos, recently relocated to a 105,000 square-foot facility in Goleta where they are further developing their products.


Community Impact Award: Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has been supporting students in their higher education goals since 1962. They provide scholarships to eligible students from Santa Barbara County for college, graduate, and vocational school education. In May of 2017, The Scholarship Foundation awarded $8.4 million in scholarship funding to 2,688 students, with the average award for undergraduate students being $3,207 and for graduate students, $9,065 on average. This year was particularly special as the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara celebrated an important milestone when it reached the $100 million mark in total scholarships awarded during its 55-year history. Leaders say The Foundation is the first community-based organization in the country to reach that mark in financial support for students.

Special Recognition:
Santa Barbara County Fire

As our community continues to face volatile fire seasons, followed by risk of flood, we are extremely grateful for the outstanding team at Santa Barbara County Fire. When the alarm sounds, firefighters may encounter any number of life-threatening calls, including vehicle, hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, water rescue, and of course, vegetation fires. Santa Barbara County Fire is often the first one on scene in any disaster and is a model public safety agency. We are honored to recognize their effectiveness, regional strength and community attentiveness.


“This list of vibrant businesses and individuals really highlights how special the Goleta community is”, said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “These individuals are making a huge impact on the Goleta community every day.”

The cost to attend Goleta’s Finest is $150 per person. A sponsored table for a group of eight is $1,500. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Please contact the Goleta Chamber of Commerce at or (805) 967-2500 x5 in advance to secure your seats! Please join us on this memorable evening.

The 2017 Goleta’s Finest awards ceremony is presented by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Special thank you to our Platinum Presenting Sponsors: American Riviera Bank, Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Community West Bank, Cox, Impulse Advanced Communications, Montecito Bank and Trust, Pacific Premier Bank, Rabobank, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara Airbus, Spherion, and The Towbes Group.

We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsors: Cabrillo Business Park, Courtyard Marriott Goleta, Mariposa at Ellwood Shores, Marriott Residence Inn, Noozhawk and Signature Flight Support.

Silver sponsors include: Brown and Brown Insurance, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Deckers Brands, FLIR Systems, KARL STORZ Imaging, Latitude 34 Technologies, LogMeIn, Marborg Industries, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Independent and Union Bank.

For more information, please contact the Chamber at (805) 967-2500 ext 5, or