Business Council Looks Ahead to New Year, New Staff

Cruzio Internet’s Peggy Dolgenos will continue as Chair, while Gary Merrill will serve as interim Executive Director.

January 7th— The Santa Cruz County Business Council will begin the New Year under the continuing leadership of Board Chair Peggy Dolgenos, cofounder and President of Cruzio Internet. Current Executive Director Joe Foster will be leaving in mid January to serve as the regional Government Relations representative for PG&E. Gary Merrill, the previous Executive Director of the Business Council and current Principal at Emergent Systems, will serve as the interim Executive Director, while Policy Analyst Robert Singleton will see an expanded role in advocacy and communications. Another notable change to the Council’s Board is the appointment of Sid Slatter, President of Slatter Construction, as Vice Chair. Slatter, who was recognized in December as being the Business Council “Member of the Year”, serves as the Council’s representative on the City of Santa Cruz’s Water Supply Advisory Committee. Mike Machado, of Hutchinson and Bloodgood will continue to serve as the organization’s Treasurer.

The reelection of Dolgenos marks the continued progression of the Business Council as an active leader and participating stakeholder representing the perspective of local businesses throughout the County. The group has been instrumental in the final passage and contents of both the County’s Economic Vitality Study and Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan, as well as taking a leading role in providing input on upcoming changes to the County’s affordable housing policy.

While the group’s main focus has been in the policy areas of Water, Transportation and Housing, 2015 will likely see the Council pursuing an agenda that also includes Education. Specific areas of work for the Council will include providing input on a potential transportation sales tax measure, updates to the County and individual Cities’ Housing Elements, and overseeing the development of an internship clearinghouse website in partnership with Cabrillo College, UCSC and the Community Foundation.

Dolgenos, who was first elected Chair in late 2013, will be the first Chair to serve for 2 consecutive years. Her continued leadership is emblematic of the expanded role of the Council and broadening coalition of members it now represents. “The Business Council is always welcoming of more participation from any local business” says Dolgenos, “it’s important that our membership reflect the diverse set of perspectives and interests that make up our County.” The Santa Cruz County Business Council currently represents over 65 local businesses, 26 of which serve as board members, for the purposes of advocacy and strategic communications on local policy. Some of its members include Palo Alto Medical Foundation/Sutter, PG&E, Driscolls, Plantronics, the Seaside Company, and Graniterock.