It’s been rough going lately for working people in the Santa Maria area. According to the California Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate here is 6.3 percent – 80 percent higher than the average for Santa Barbara County.

So it’s good news when opportunities for well-paying jobs with good benefits come along, especially when they don’t necessarily require a college degree, especially in rural areas. Aera Energy’s planned redevelopment of its East Cat Canyon oilfield is one of those rare opportunities for people in the county, including the hardworking men and women who are members of our union.

According to the UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project, it’s estimated that the project will create $1 billion in total economic activity, including significant revenues to the County. This means more funding that could be used not only for essential public services but for important projects, in turn supporting a wide range of even more local jobs, workers and their families well into the future.

Aera’s East Cat Canyon project will be a bright spot in Santa Maria’s economy, and we look forward to working with them.

Billy Mann is a member of SEIU Local 620 in Santa Maria.


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