Hispanic Business Association advised to enhance structure for future consideration

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles City Council directed staff to proceed with contracts providing funds to three local organizations and directed a fourth to work with staff to refine their proposal. Over $300,000 was promised to the three organizations during the Tuesday, May 21, City Council meeting. 

The Paso Robles Main Street Association (Main Street), Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA), Paso Robles and Templeton Chamber of Commerce (PRTCC), and the Hispanic Business Association (HBA) all made proposals to council to be included in their proposed budget for Fiscal Years (FY) 2024-25 and 2025-26. 

Prior to the Tuesday meeting, the proposed budget included a $110,000 contribution to Main Street (total of $220,000 for the next two FY); $85,000 to the PRWCA ($170,000 for the next two FY); and $95,0000 per FY to the PRTCC ($190,000 for the next two FY). All three organizations have an established history with the city to receive funds. 


Following the PRWCA’s presentation, Mayor John Hamon was enthusiastic to include the organization in the budget.

“You guys are fantastic, and I think you are a big part of what Paso Robles has become because of your organization,” he said.

Council made a decision to alter staff’s recommendations for contributions to the organizations and landed on the following distribution of funds:

  • Main Street: $117,000 per FY for downtown promotion and events 
  • PRTCC: $115,000 per FY for the upcoming Visitor Center 
  • PRWCA: $85,000 per FY for marketing and workforce development

However, this was the HBA’s first time requesting a contribution from the city. They requested $150,000 over a two-year period from the city ($75,000 per FY), and funds from the city to assist with “Spanish Language Business Support Services.”

Within the HBA proposal, they describe themselves as a new organization “dedicated to serving as a driving force for positive change in the North County region with an emphasis on the City of Paso Robles.”

HBA says its mission is to “bridge the gap between the Hispanic business community and the City of Paso Robles by offering comprehensive services, resources, and opportunities that are crucially needed in Spanish.”

Currently, HBA works alongside the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, which has taken the group under its wing. Former Paso Robles City Councilmember Maria Garcia is the leading force in the organization. She told council that she has been receiving valuable mentorship from Josh Cross, the Atascadero Chamber’s president and CEO.

However, councilmembers had concerns over the lack of structure in the organization.

Hamon explained, “If we are using taxpayer dollars here, we need to have some sort of structure that I think council would want to see and legal would want to have.”

The HBA has yet to develop a Board of Directors, which council said they would like to see developed before moving forward. 

“That’s not to say we can’t fund you later,” said Hamon. “But I think at this point in your infancy here to get things started; Maria, I think we need to get more to the city as to what the structure of HBA really is and who you serve in Paso Robles.”

Councilmember Steve Gregory suggested to staff that it help Garcia establish a representable budget and proposal to be presented to council at a later date. 

“When we spend money with the public, Maria, we have to have it ironclad,” explained Gregory. “I want you to succeed in this. I believe in what you’re doing. I believe its important that we communicate with our Spanish-speaking folks in our community and let everybody have that same opportunity that we have.”

Garcia took to the stand to push back on council’s decision. 

She stated they have been doing outreach to other entities for sponsorships and grants.

 “We want to elevate that to the next level. In order to do that we need help raising us up so that’s why we are here.” Garcia said. “We are growing and we are learning a lot but in order to move to the next level that’s why we are here to ask for funding to help us with all the plans and goals that we have.”

Ultimately, council stuck with its decision to not approve funding for HBA at this time, but to have staff work with them so that it can present a new proposal for funding in the future. 

The next Paso Robles City Council meeting is scheduled for June 4 at 6:30 p.m.