• Local Leaders Predict Competitive Labor Market, Flexible Work Environments on the Horizon for 2022

    2021 was another challenging year, but we once again saw our community rise to the occasion. We applaud our local businesses and organizations for their continued resiliency and support for one another as we navigate the "new normal" brought on by the pandemic.

    As we wrap up the year, we asked some local leaders to weigh in on what they feel is in store for 2022. We asked, " What do you see as the greatest opportunity, challenge or trend that will impact businesses in Northern Santa Barbara County over the next 12 months?" Here's what our local leaders had to say:

    “Public works construction will remain strong with new funds coming from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill. There is a large project slated for the Santa Maria Airport along with numerous highway and roads projects in the area. Commercial construction may decline a little as post-COVID trends are realized concerning office utilization and the ever increasing percentage of on-line shopping versus brick and mortar stores. The biggest issues we see in the new year are labor force availability and supply chain consistency. Like we see across the nation, there is a shortage of commercial truck drivers. This is critical for our company where half our employees drive trucks to move our products. Several local companies are working with Allan Hancock College and other entities to provide training opportunities.”

    - Danny Deveraux, Vice President & General Manager, CalPortland Construction

    “I think we are learning and will excel at adapting to the "new normal" which will include a tight labor market, masking, vaccinations and social distancing, but businesses will stay open and can thrive if they are creative. COVID may be here to stay, but treatments will soon be available and COVID will be like other flu or virus and we will learn to live with it and live well with it.”

    - Sue Anderson, President & CEO, Dignity Health/Marian Regional Medical Center

    "Allan Hancock College will further expand access for adult students through a variety of industry-specific training while also creating flexible, short term programs designed to help working adults to complete an associate degree."

    - Kevin Walthers, Superintendent/President, Allan Hancock College

    “Low unemployment, increasing salaries, government stimulus and supply shortages are causing inflation and increasing the cost of living. This puts pressure on families and businesses. We need to be aware of the competition and the markets as they shift and realize the value a business can add for employees and customers through avenues other than simple costs. Offering more services to customers and providing greater options for employees will allow us to think outside of the simple numeration of wages.”

    - Paul Cook, President/CEO, CoastHills Credit Union

    “The greatest challenge I see for 2022 is managing increasing employee costs. We have seen that to just retain employees can mean a 6% raise, and then more to attempt to compete with the highly competitive market.”

    - Sandra Dickerson, CEO, Your People Professionals

    “I feel my agency is in the best possible position to grow, as we have learned and adapted to our new normal and embraced change over the past year. Like many other businesses, the biggest challenge for us in 2022 will be hiring in this competitive job market.”

    - Donna Randolph, Agent/Owner, State Farm Insurance - Donna Randolph

    "The greatest opportunity for small businesses will be to utilize new methods of delivering products and services to their customers. Curb side pick-up and deliveries have been successful for the large companies. If small businesses are not offering these services, it will be crucial to remain open. The trend will continue to be online shopping, local businesses will need to look at incorporating or growing their e-commerce."

    - Angelica Guiterrez, L & G Farms / DL Farms

    While 2022 will bring its own challenges, it will also being opportunities for businesses to adapt and continue to be inventive in ways that will benefit their business longterm. As always, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber will continue to be here for business as a champion for a strong Santa Maria Valley community into 2022 and beyond.