Economic health is new director’s priority

Kathy Gallino

Three weeks into her new job with the county, Kathy Gallino, the recently appointed director of economic development, has formulated dozens of ideas for economic development in Calaveras County.

She will meet with Calaveras County Administrative Officer Tim Lutz in the coming weeks, when she hopes to decide what is realistic and establish priorities.

After the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors tabbed Gallino as the director of economic development in early January, she officially began work with the county on Jan. 22.

Since then she has been touring the county and meeting with various business and community leaders throughout the area, she said. Recently, she met with representatives in Copperopolis. Soon she will head up the Highway 4 corridor to gain insights about business in the Arnold area.

Gallino, a 20-year resident of Valley Springs, comes to her new job with two decades worth of experience in Sacramento County, where she worked in the Business Environmental Resource Center helping businesses navigate through governmental compliance and permit bureaucracies.

She spent the past eight years working on the McClellan Park project as officials transitioned the facility from an air force base where 35,000 service members worked to a business park.

For the next few months, Gallino said she will work with Michelle Stephens, the county’s economic development coordinator, in building resources and business outreach until a grant that funds Stephens’ position runs out later this year.

In the long term, Gallino hopes to create an environment that could welcome new businesses. She cited a satellite community college campus or a technology center from the Silicon Valley as examples.

Others have expressed interest in attracting larger corporations like Smart & Final, she said.

Meanwhile, she wants to continue to provide resources for those thinking of entrepreneurial opportunities and operating established businesses in the area. Officials soon hope to roll out a geographic grid showing the locations of vacant buildings, while providing education and assistance for businesses in areas like permit acquisition and compliance.

Ultimately, Gallino hopes to create individualized economic development strategies for each district of the county. Areas like District 2 would be a hub for forestry-related businesses, while tourism operations would be centered in Districts 3 and 4.

For Gallino, moving from work in Sacramento County to Calaveras is more than a change in commute, which she said has taken her as much as three hours in the past. She was excited about the opportunity to help her community.

“There is a huge need to be able to work in the community,” she said. “I can actually do things for friends, peers and businesses in Calaveras. It feels good to serve the community.”

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