Rising together to meet an unprecedented challenge

When we set out a year ago, as a coalition forged under the name Hourglass Project, we were energized and optimistic that this region was at a turning point of coming together in unprecedented ways to build a better future.

Now we find ourselves taking on the urgent, sweeping impacts of an unprecedented global pandemic and economic shutdown. Like many of you, we are stepping out of our comfort zone to rise to these challenges impacting the lives and livelihood of the people of the Central Coast.

Between the immediate need of fortifying our health-care system to meet unprecedented demand and the equally unprecedented longer-term impacts on our economy, the imperative for regional thinking and action has never been so apparent.

Such regional capacity is precisely what brought business, government, education and civic leaders together over the last year to champion the founding of this coalition and the cultivation of deeper local relationships, new state and federal connections, and bridges between previously disparate parts of our region.

We are so fortunate that in this time of crisis, we are rooted in a foundation of collaboration and trust that allowed us to jump to action as a region, shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners.

Here is what we are doing:

Increasing health-care capacity and supporting the needs of an industry that will be strained and stressed to its limits.

  • Analysis drafted by the REACH team spurred rapid planning to meet the COVID-19 surge. As a result, REACH VP of Strategy Andrew Hackleman was tapped as an advisor to the SLO County Emergency Services Director, drawing on his extensive military expertise in supply chain logistics and analysis.

Forging public-private partnerships and new ways for various sectors to come together to bolster our healthcare industry.

  • Cal Poly, RRM, Thoma Electric and Trust Automation are teaming up with SLO County, Dignity and Tenet Health to transform the Cal Poly Rec Center into a site to care for COVID-19 patients.
  • Daniels Wood Land and Straight Down are transforming their manufacturing lines to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers.
  • Krobar Distillery and Calwise Spirits have repurposed operations to bulk manufacture much-needed hand sanitizer, supplying hospitals, first-responders, government agencies, nonprofits and the general public.

Planning economic relief and recovery strategies in partnership with SLO County and other entities. While the full impact is still unfolding, the ramifications on our workers and businesses will be felt long after the health crisis has passed.

  • We hosted the first of planned weekly conference calls on Monday with regional leaders to hear on-the-ground updates from U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, CA Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and SLO County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton. Watch the video.
  • We are taking every opportunity to advocate for our region and our workforce with state and federal partners, including developing proposals for the Governor’s Office on potential stimulus projects.
  • We are partnering with and advocating for our economic development partners who are supporting their members in navigating through the challenges. Chambers, Visit SLO CAL, EVC, SBDC, CIE, Econ Alliance, Downtown Associations and many more are vital to the backbone of our community and our future economic recovery.

This is a time when our regional resiliency will be put to the test; we must work together, pool resources, leverage strengths, build from within and put our collective expertise to use in new ways.

It’s critical in this crisis that we remain united: one region, one voice, one coordinated response. We will communicate regularly with you to engage you in the work of economic recovery.

We are truly stronger together in weathering this challenge. And we will rise together out of it.


News from REACH