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Capps, Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce Use Virtual Tools to Confront Economic Reality

Citrix Online hosts Webinar to expand business leaders' access to lawmaker during district visit

The occasion had a virtual appeal but the topic was all too real for the participants in the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s first Webinar with Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Friday.

With the help of host Citrix Online’s GoToWebinar program, Capps and the chamber addressed the economic recovery and the challenges local businesses faced in 2009 — a grueling year by almost everyone’s definition — and their prospects in 2010. A small group of business leaders was on hand with Capps in a high-tech auditorium at Citrix’s spacious new headquarters, 6500 Hollister Ave., with another group participating via the Internet.

After a brief introduction from Kristen Amyx, the chamber’s president and CEO, Capps got right to her points. She touched on the latest unemployment numbers released Friday by the Labor Department, which reported that another 85,000 jobs were lost in December and that unemployment remains at about 10 percent.

Capps also reflected on the economy’s tumultuous year in 2009.

“Our economy was in free fall,” said Capps, noting that hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost each month.

Getting from that bumpy road to a somewhat smoother one wasn’t easy, and Capps said she had to make some hard decisions as a lawmaker, “many of them unpopular, unpleasant and expensive.”

Capps admitted that her most controversial decision in her seven terms in Congress came with her vote to approve billions of dollars in TARP funds that were given to banks in distress. Although she said she hated putting taxpayer money on the line, “inaction simply wasn’t an option.”

An economic recovery Webinar made Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, the center of attention Friday, along with Laura McCormick of Citrix Online, left, and Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.
An economic recovery Webinar made Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, the center of attention Friday, along with Laura McCormick of Citrix Online, left, and Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Now as some banks are beginning to repay their borrowed money sooner than expected, Capps was optimistic about the coming year and how decisions made by President Barack Obama and Congress would effect local jobs.

Along with the efforts to reform health care, which is a large burden on any business, Capps said that stimulus projects — like the Mission Creek Flood Control and Rehabilitation Project and the Santa Maria Levee Improvement Project — have “saved or created” 1.6 million jobs nationwide.

Other goals for this year include encouraging businesses in the energy field, especially alternative energy, and getting money back into small businesses, which have struggled as their access to capital and loans has dried up.

But it’s a balancing act between spending enough and compounding the nation’s deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office said reached a record high of $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009, more than triple the previous high set in 2008. Capps vowed to continually try to find the proper balance by what her constituents tell her.

Participants in the Webinar were asked which option would have the most positive effect on their business this year. A third of the respondents said increased access to capital and a third answered increased access to loans. Another 17 percent said reduced health care costs.

“It’s a tough lending environment,” acknowledged Natalie Orta, who serves Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties as chief of the Economic Development Division of the Small Business Administration.

Orta encouraged borrowers to improve their odds of getting a loan by knowing how much they need, what they’re going to use it for and, most important, how they’re going to pay it back.

Jim Crook, who runs Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep Dodge, expressed concern about the tight credit lines. Crook has been in business for 31 years, and he said that the last two have proven extremely difficult.

“It’s been a struggle,” he said.

Customers who come in to purchase vehicles often can’t get loans even if their credit is good, Crook explained. The business itself has also had difficulty getting loans.

Orta recommended that businesses having trouble getting loans call around to multiple financial institutions, because “all lenders are not alike.” Many lenders won’t deal at all with car loans at this point, she said. She encouraged those turned down for loans to ask why so they can refine their next application.

“Banks got scared, just like everyone else did,” said Capps, who added that regulators are watching lenders closely.

Fred Barbaria, owner of Santa Barbara Signs & Graphics, said that he felt consumers were changing their behavior because of the economy — an effect that could permanently change their habits.

“Business may not come back,” he said, although he said he and his seven employees were doing well.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf was also on hand to answer questions. The economic picture at the county level was very bleak, she said, because of a combination of a drop in property taxes and the unreliable funding the county receives — or doesn’t — from the state and federal governments.

But the county has taken a number of steps to help take the edge of the recession. As an example, she said, the county’s local vendor outreach program helps keep 60 percent of the county’s expenditures on goods and services with area businesses. Another program to help homeowners and businesses access funds for energy-efficiency retrofitting is also expected to get off the ground in April, Wolf said.

In addition to using the SBA Web site as a resource, Orta encouraged business owners to check out Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Friday’s Webinar was a first for the Goleta Valley chamber, which last year took its operation completely online, closing its traditional bricks-and-mortar office as a significant cost-saving move. In the wake of the chamber’s virtual transformation, board member Bob Grissom, general manager of Cox Media, said the organization has fielded numerous inquiries from chambers of commerce exploring the concept in other parts of the country.

Later Friday, Capps toured C’est Cheese, 825 Santa Barbara St., and held a roundtable discussion with business leaders at the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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» on 01.09.10 @ 02:25 AM

Is she for real? I think she is a stepford democrat. Nothing but left wing talking points that she’s spewed so many times I think she actually believes them. we lost another 85,000 jobs but the porkulus saved or created 1.6 million jobs? This is crazy talk, we’re still losing jobs! Has she been on and seen what a joke the stimulus spending is? What is she optomistic about? The next wave of housing forclosures due to the continued job losses? The coming wave of commercial property forclosures? The coming hyper-inflation due to her binge deficit spending in congress? Please someone with some fiscal sanity run against her.

» on 01.09.10 @ 02:58 AM

Capps isn’t qualified to be a nurse in gov’t run healthcare, let alone crash our county economy into the dust. What a joke!

» on 01.09.10 @ 10:43 AM

This woman is truly clueless about business and private enterprise.
What is worse?  The fact that she is a total failure representing this district, or the fact that for some reason she keeps getting re-elected (although she promised, in writing, to not run for more than 3 terms)

» on 01.09.10 @ 12:27 PM

Lois Capps is one of the finest, most intelligent and caring respresentative any American has in congress. She is also prepared to use her position, and her efforts, to better our citizens’ access to healthcare and quality education.

Anonymous critics are hiding their identities as they spew forth untruths. That isn’t helpful, and it sure is not informative.

» on 01.09.10 @ 12:52 PM

The woman is a ditz. It is ridiculous that she is in that important office. And by occupying it she has made it utterly unimportant. The Democrats will elect any silly woman on the ballot as long as they are “pro choice”, “pro gay”, and claim to be “pro environment”.

» on 01.09.10 @ 03:27 PM

Maybe the Democrats gave us Lois Capps, but the Republicans were willing to give us Sarah Palin as Vice President. Scary!

» on 01.09.10 @ 03:28 PM

To Ms. McCune,

In this bastion of unreality and out-of-touch wealthy liberals (Santa Barbara) remaining “anonymous”—as a conservative and working person—is synonymous with being able to land jobs…

So go take a flying leap. Publicly, privately, liberally or otherwise.

With all due respect,

» on 01.09.10 @ 03:57 PM

Obviously for prosperity we need to cut spending and taxes and invade a few more Islamic nations (but not count that spending in the budget).  This plan worked so well before.

The federal deficit ballooned because the Obama administration stopped hiding so much of the spending like W and I did.

» on 01.09.10 @ 04:02 PM

Where were all those critics when Bush was president and using deficits to support his tax cuts? Supporting the Iraq War and pinning California’s problems on Gray Davis. Do you think letting the banks fail would have created jobs and stopped forclosures?

Republicans have the history of fiscal irresponsibility. we are all now paying for it.

» on 01.09.10 @ 06:58 PM

The Republican Party didn’t bring you Sarah Palin, John McCain did. It was his choice alone.

» on 01.09.10 @ 07:03 PM

Go ahead and bash Bush…it is what you people are best at and only that. I will take Bush over what we have now in a New York minute.

Since taking office, America’s first Muslim-born (according to Islamic law) Third World-American (his Muslim father was a Kenyan socialist) President has made engagement (appeasement and accommodation) of Islamist nations and groups the central feature of his foreign policy. BHO has given Islamist Iran an additional year to develop nuclear weapons, while warning Israel against attacking Iran and relentlessly pressuring the Jewish State to withdraw to indefensible borders in order to make possible the formation of an Islamist-ruled terror state with East Jerusalem as its capital; embraced the Islamist idea of a so-called Muslim world, transcending political boundaries, race, and ethnicity, united by belief in “the holy Koran,” which he delights in quoting; bowed to the Saudi King, deeply and submissively, like a Muslim servant; apologized for alleged American sins against Muslim and other Third World nations; reached out to Islamist terrorist and front groups at home and abroad, including the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, which initially welcomed his election, and allegedly “reconcilable” elements of the resurgent Taliban; and downgraded the War on Terror to a law enforcement battle with Al Qaeda—the only Islamist group that is for the time being still beyond the pale of engagement—by (a) deciding to bring 9/11 mastermind KSM and other alien enemy combatant war criminals to New York City for a civilian court trial, and (b) referring to terrorists as “extremists” and “suspects” and to Islamist terrorist acts as “manmade disasters.”

ht: chi-con

» on 01.09.10 @ 09:40 PM

This group of tax and spend liberals are a joke—Lois knows nothing about business or running a small company. The lawyers stealing from business with millions of friviolos lawsuits, high workers comp rates, liab rates auto rates, health rates all killing business—oh ya -huge reglations also destroying business—get a clue capps?????Tort reform NOW????

Liberlas are Paid off by the attorneys & useless unions—

Overtaxed taxpayer..

» on 01.09.10 @ 09:43 PM

How about stuggling business because of High High taxes and too much government??? Cut Gov staff and wages 50% and start over—I know many people who will work for 50% of what they hand out now to our over paid servants..

» on 01.09.10 @ 09:49 PM

I dont think we have good leadership in our S.B chamber—they have some tax and spend liberals at the top—I might cancel next year—Pres-S.C lost the election for Dale—He should of dropped out-Now we have wacky Helene Schneider running our nutty city council—Thanks Steve?????

» on 01.09.10 @ 11:16 PM

Thank you Lois.  I think you are great!

» on 01.10.10 @ 01:39 AM

WE NEED YOU TO STOP TAKING THE MONEY WE MAKE AND SPENDING IT! As a small business owner, how do I benefit from you taking my money to spend on alternative energy? How do I benefit from health care reform? Is the owner of Santa Barbara Signs and Graphics, the owner of C’est Cheese and Citrix supposed to convert to alternative energy companies to get any benefit from the government taking their money and giving it away to liberal priorities like alternative energy so CAPPS CAN WIN BROWNIE POINTS WITH HER LIBERAL SUPPORTERS?

» on 01.10.10 @ 01:45 AM

How can you possibly determine the number of jobs that have been saved? It is an unknown variable - a “fudge factor” so they can use any number they want.  “saved or created” 1.6 million jobs nationwide. What a lie. How about telling us the number that have been created without adding the “saved or”? And don’t include government jobs, because they are not sustainable and will go away as soon as the money dries up!

Are highly trained and educated technical people who have lost work because of govt. regulating and taxing supposed to go work on levies and making windmills and solar panels for a living to benefit from this government taking and spending of their money?

We are not morons out here CAPPS like you and your leaders apparently are when it comes to economics and business!

» on 01.10.10 @ 01:50 AM

Except for one little problem - the Republicans have not been in control of Congress during this little catastrophe, even when Bush was in office and the spending in just the past year has quadrupled the deficit and been larger than that of all previous administrations put together. so yeah, keep blaming Bush..

» on 01.10.10 @ 12:56 PM

I’d rather be a tax and spend Liberal/Democrat than a BORROW and spend Right Wing Republican.

That said, all this name calling and labeling isn’t helping put Americans back to work.

Lois is trying. It’s clear from the comments that ideologues would rather Lois and Obama fail, and the country with it, even if it means kids go without food and medicine.

Bush and Republicans had 6 years’ control of all 3 branches of our government to try trickle down, cut taxes and chop regulation.  It was a miserable failure.  You just can’t ignore or defend that.

We’re proud of you Lois for trying to undo the mess Bush and his followers made.  We’ll try to be patient.

» on 01.10.10 @ 05:51 PM

Richard, borrowing and spending go hand in hand. When you run out of money to spend you have to borrow it. This congress and administration have increased the debt from one trillion to four trillion in just one year, the debt is higher than it has ever been for all administrations combined and you don’t call that BORROWING?

Bush had nothing to do with it, even though nobody is giving him credit either, because he was a spender as well. But to give credence to your argument - actually those first 6 years had an extremely healthy economy, including a huge recovery EVEN AFTER 9/11 (have a look at a Dow Jones chart. The economic downturn occurred AFTER he lost control of Congress and the likes of Chriss Dodd and Barney Frank got control.

If Lois and Obama fail it is not because anyone wished it. They will have done it on their own. They hold a majority AND the White House. Trying is not the same as succeeding. There is no excuse, but for you it will be Bush’s fault to eternity. You need a new scape goat because they are all gone now.

It is laughable that liberals always drag out “the chiiiildren” when they want to persuade or attack Republicans. It is getting so predictable and old.

» on 01.10.10 @ 06:26 PM

Capps is exactly as clueless and uninterested in the workings of business as she looks in the picture. You captured it very well Lara. It’s all for show. How is spending on alternative energy and levies going to help Citrix? Ironically enough, Citrix is one of the successful companies that is doing quite well on its own without government handouts and bailouts. Why is she wasting time on a tour? Why doesn’t she do something for the little businesses that are feeling the squeeze, closing their doors and afraid to hire because of the looming unpredictable effects of healthcare reform and Capp and Trade, and Global Warming spending and regulation. This is what some call “trying”?

» on 01.10.10 @ 10:16 PM

Dear “Brainwashed…”,

You have distorted the truth. The national debt doubled under Bush.See

Bush claimed that if you just lowered taxes, the economy would grow and reduce the debt.  Trickle down didn’t work under Reagan and it didn’t work under Bush.

And real wages stayed flat under Bush while the rich got richer. Any intelligent discussion MUST begin by your acknowledging those facts. Obama and Capps are laboring under the debt and economic devastation left by Bush and for you to criticize her is the height of hypocrisy. Have you no shame???

» on 01.10.10 @ 10:26 PM

Less taxes = more jobs provided by job private sector job providers who produce wealth (they sell something - a good or a service)

More private sector jobs = more wealth = more revenue for the government (income taxes, sales taxes, business property taxes) = less debt, borrowing.

Higher taxes = less private sector jobs = less revenue for the government, higher debt = higher depemdence on the government = welfare and socialism, higher joblessness and poverty.

Levies, and other government subsidized projects (alternative energy, infrastructure) = unsustainable government spending - when the money is spent, the jobs are gone.

Go back to school and learn economics Capps if you truly want to help business as you pose to. You will have plenty of time after we vote you out of office. Government spending and subsidies is at best a temporary answer leading ultimately to economic collapse. (Verified by that of every other country that has tried socialism and failed).

“the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of Other Peoples Money” - Margaret Thatcher

» on 01.10.10 @ 11:55 PM

Ok Richard, let’s begin our intelligent discussion - first, nobody is disputing that Bush was a spender as well I have acknowledged that and I do not defend it. That has nothing to do with Obama, two wrongs don’t make a right.

However, Obama is Bush on steroids. If Bush doubled the debt in 8 years,. (Defense spending in a war is sometimes not a choice, spend or die kind of thing, but yes, he spent far too much as well - Aids in Africa and the like) We can agree on that. But Obama QUADRUPLED the debt in just one year in office! What will it look like after 4 or God forbid, 5 years in office? I think we can agree that spending is a bad thing, but spending on steroids is worse!  I acknowledge the fact that Bush was a spender as well, but Bush really is irrelevant at this point. Do we agree so far? Spending money you don’t have is a bad thing no matter which president is in office. Let me know when you’re ready for the next point - which is the economic effect of lowering taxes .

» on 01.11.10 @ 12:45 AM

@ Economics 101: Less taxes = less revenue. It worked like that under Reagan and it worked that way under Bushes. Less taxes = less education = less revenue.
Less taxes = less infrastructure = less revenue.

Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

» on 01.11.10 @ 12:49 AM

I love all the Bush and Reagan bashing over their tax cuts. Funny, but it was a Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who started it — with the same results: a healthy economy and record revenue for the treasury.

» on 01.11.10 @ 01:03 AM

Except for one little problem. Nobody is advocating paying NO taxes. But how much is enough? Would 100% of your income be enough? Would everyone TAKING from the government instead of providing FOR the government be enough?

At a certain point of taxation the economy hits gridlock, because businesses spent most of their time working for the government and can’t their overhead - can’t afford afford to pay employees and hire and jobless people can’t pay taxes. So where does the revenue come from then? You apparently have missed the point and need Econ 101 as well, or maybe just basic math.

If more people are producing wealth (by providing a product or a service) instead of kicking back living off the government, then revenue goes UP not down, because the income exceeds the outgo.

» on 01.11.10 @ 01:36 AM

Dear “Brainwashed…”,

You have distorted the truth. The national debt doubled under Bush.See

Bush claimed that if you just lowered taxes, the economy would grow and reduce the debt.  Trickle down didn’t work under Reagan and it didn’t work under Bush.

And real wages stayed flat under Bush while the rich got richer. Any intelligent discussion MUST begin by your acknowledging those facts. Obama and Capps are laboring under the debt and economic devastation left by Bush and for you to criticize her is the height of hypocrisy. Have you no shame???

» on 01.11.10 @ 02:17 AM

The founding fathers wanted small government ad low low taxes-Boston tea part!!-Go to your family-Churches-Neighbors-friends for help FIRST—Not straight to Government—US—for help—welfare is a last resort—not first—have some pride..Illegals will go home if you work—12M plus…

» on 01.11.10 @ 02:22 AM

This women hasn’t a clue—WOW???

» on 01.11.10 @ 03:11 AM

Very intelligent Richard, repeating your original post. You were the one that challenged an intelligent discussion, obviously that is a waste of time when talking to a parrot.

» on 01.11.10 @ 03:16 AM

J.P. Thanks for reminding these ignorant parrots that the original idea for taxcuts to spur the economy were from the Democrat JFK, not Reagan or Bush and quite successful at stimulating the economy as well.

» on 01.11.10 @ 01:56 PM

The tax and spend liberals have never run a small business—Boxer Capps-Wolfe-Farr, because if they did they would demand smaller government and lower taxes—these women have no clue??? vote them out ...

» on 01.11.10 @ 02:29 PM

Regardless of political party affiliation or personal opinion of Rep. Capps I think more reps should be embracing this kind of technology.  In these tremulous times our reps need to be communicating to their respective districts what’s happening back on Capitol Hill.  This will allow them to communicate with and reach a broader scope of their constituents.  Bravo to both the Chamber, Citrix and Rep. Capps for participating.  Lets see more of this.

» on 01.11.10 @ 02:49 PM

Agreed Shawn - however I would like to know where are the transcripts of this Webinar? Where is the “transparency” that Obama and the Democrats promised? This webinar was tightly controlled and designed to include only those who happened to be available to participate at 9:30 AM on Friday. Those who run businesses or work for them were most likely unavailable to participate or listen in, because they were busy with their business. You had to “register” in advance. And those of us busy running or working for businesses were busy. Where are the transcripts? So much of politics is done during business hours (City Council) behind the backs of those who work, which has allowed the liberals and progressives and the non-producers to take over and keeping the producers and job providers from participating! By design? You bet.

» on 01.14.10 @ 10:02 PM

Not one of you has a clue how economics works! Look at the dock yards at long beach. We import more than we export. We consume more than we produce. This has been going on for 50 years and we have racked up $100 trillion in private and public debt since we became a “consumer” economy based on services rather than a producer economy. People get a clue. Keynesian economics is a shell game and that debt is a result. Moving money around does not make more wealth. Forget the partisan crap and look at communist China. They imported our capitalist system and decided to become a net exporter producer economy. They are getting richer while all the western democracies fiddle around with how to redistribute a shrinking economic pie. You democrats, you have to EARN the feel good crap you want it isn’t free; do you get that? To the conservatives here, you can beat up the idiots on the left all day long over taxes but the bottom line is we have to make our own stuff if we ever want to be prosperous again. Take note liberals, making your own stuff means producing our own CHEAP energy (not that over priced feel good green crap you keep pushing), farming our own food and manufacturing our own base resources and finished durable goods. That means wages need to be competitive, regulations need to be rational and we all need to work harder at things that matter. All the wonderful government crap you lefties love to point out they have done they did when we had a net trade SURPLUS. When we went deficit on trade the debt started piling up and most government programs headed for the red.
Many of you are right, Lois Capps, a sweet and wonderful person, is clueless (like most democrats) when it comes to wealth generation. You either grow real wealth using the methods I mentioned above (as opposed to paper wealth) or be prepared to live a much more impoverished life, it’s that simple. Even the whacko European socialists get that much. They do everything possible to shelter their manufacturing base as a hedge against wealth erosion while we all (left and right) over here just give it all away and then cry over the results while pointing our imbecilic little fingers at each other.
We did not become the world’s richest and most powerful country coddling and nannying ourselves into a comatose comfort. We did it taking risks and working hard at those things that made wealth and everyone benefitted even the poorest of the poor.
Ok rant over, now go back to your finger pointing.

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