In 1991, an enterprising group of business owners, factory managers, farmers, ranchers, and some folks with expertise in the field of environmental compliance, got together to see if they could help our economy. Their collective goal was to provide input into the decision making process at the County Government level in order to achieve a balance between environmental and economic considerations.
The idea was that if business people testified at Board of Supervisor's meetings and other various public hearings, it would serve as a counter-balance to the views put forth by special interest groups, including county staff. It was their hope that perhaps then there would be a better balance in the decision making process. The group originally called themselves the Business and Agricultural Environmental Advisory Group. It didn't take long for the members of the group to realize that their advice, and even their presence, wasn't entirely welcomed in the halls of county government.
It was about that time that these enterprising folks, led by Charlie Cappel (COLAB's Chairman Emeritus), heard about an organization akin to what they wanted to create. The organization was called COLAB. In addition to agriculture and business, this organization also had a contingent from organized labor working with them in their effort to make everybody's future just a little bit brighter. So it was that the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business of Santa Barbara County was born.
COLAB is the first and only Santa Barbara County coalition to bridge the gap between the Northern and Southern portions of our County, and successfully bring together organized labor, agriculture and business. COLAB boasts over 1300 members from throughout Santa Barbara County. It is an organization that has a profound affect on curbing the growth of county government as well as improving the regulatory climate. It has helped businesses big and small to survive by demanding our elected officials consider the impact to businesses and taxpayers for virtually everything they do. We have also insisted that local county government follow Federal and State law as versus leaving it to county staff to create their own laws. We have been successful but we have a long way to go.
COLAB's Board of Directors reflects its membership with representatives from organized labor (currently public safety unions), agriculture (flower growers, grapes, vegetables, and cattle) and from various sectors of the business community (insurance, industry, medicine, real estate, development, taxpayers, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and oil). We are a true coalition.
COLAB is relied upon by both individuals and organizations, and members of the general public to inform them about items on the Board of Supervisors agenda that may have an affect upon their livelihood.
Awards and Recognition:
- Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce and Strawberry Association “Industry Partner of the Year Award” 2019.
- Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau “Agricultural Promotion 2010" Award Recipient.
- Santa Maria Valley Ag Association Annual Award Recipient 2004.
- Santa Barbara Industrial Association Distinguished Public Service Award 2006.
Representing the Public Interest:
- From the Vocational Training Center (which serves the disabled community) “Community Image Award 2010.
- Los Padres Council of Boy Scouts of America “Community Organization of the Year” 2008.
- Voted Best “Community Watchdog” by Readers of the Santa Maria Sun -11 Times!
- Voted Best “Take it to the Man Activist” by Readers of the Santa Maria Sun- 7 Times!
- Voted Best “Community Activist” by Readers of the Santa Maria Sun 2007.
- Recipient of State Senator Joel Anderson “California Hero Award” 2015.
- From State Senator Sam Blakeslee, Ph.D, Resolution for Meritorious Service to Agriculture, Business and Labor in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, presented 2010.
- Resolutions of Commendation from the California State Assembly, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, and the Santa Maria City Council.