In-Person Business Networking Slowly Returning to South Coast

WEV gave tours of its new community center Sept. 14 in the El Centro Building.

Are in-person business networking events coming back to the South Coast? 

It appears so, as evidenced by some Santa Barbara-area groups that have held some recently well-attended downtown gatherings and plan more this year. 

Women’s Economic Ventures staged a Sept. 14 open house in the three-decades-old organization’s newly opened community center, which drew some 100 WEV officials, clients and others. Unmasked attendees quaffed wine on the bottom floor of 100-year-old El Centro Building where the new Sevtap wine-tasting room operates. 

Tours in small groups required everyone to don masks. Retired WEV CEO Marsha Bailey dropped by to tour the new HQ. Since its inception, WEV has provided training and help obtaining business loans for women and men. Now, WEV will hold in-person classes on the third floor of the El Centro Building. 

WEV is not the only business group holding in-person networking after more than a year of isolation or virtual events.  

The Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club held a gathering July and another in September. The philanthropic group plans two more events this year, but will not have its annual holiday party in December, said club spokeswoman Cynthia Torocsik. 

The Santa Barbara chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners is planning a gathering from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at Grassini Family Vineyards, Downtown Tasting Room, 24 El Paseo. New WEV CEO Kathy Odell will speak on “Thriving in Ambiguity.” 

Meanwhile, as so many groups have done in the past 18 months, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce is will hold at least one more virtual gathering such as a 9 a.m. Sept. 23 B2B networking event.  However, the chamber is planning its in-person 11:30 a.m. Sept. 30 State of the County gathering at the Hyatt Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. 

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