Who are you and what is your role in the community? My name is Christina Strawbridge and I own Christina S (on First Street). Previously, I worked for Benicia Main Street for over 10 years as their event coordinator. I started the Farmers Market and the Waterfront Festival, and did the Millennium Celebration here. It was a great way to draw visitors to our town. Currently I am the economic development chair. I’ve been on the Economic Development Board since 2006.
What exactly is the role of the Economic Development Board? The board advises the (City) Council on economic issues in town. Tourism became our number one goal back in 2007. I’ve been very excited with our accomplishments so far.
How did you come to be in Benicia? I’m originally from Indianapolis, Indiana in the Midwest. My husband was starting his business up here. We needed to be accessible to San Jose, Sacramento and San Francisco and actually found the town by accident. We had never heard of Benicia before. We’ve been in Benicia since 1985 and raised our kids here. They’re grown now.
What are your impressions of Benicia? I’m one of these people who really appreciate the charm of this town and the beauty of it. I really feel as if there is a female side to Benicia. It was named after a woman, and as we know, we have a woman mayor and we had a police chief who was a woman. And, we have a large contingency of artists who are based here. I think it’s because of the beauty and the charm of this town, and the water is part of it.
What is the one thing you’d like to make happen in your capacity as chair of the Economic Development Board? We are on a really positive track with our tourism program, but we need to be paying attention to the Industrial Park. We need to get WiFi accessibility out there…to help businesses that are out there and also to encourage business. The Economic Development Board proposed and conducted a study on [the technology needs of the Industrial Park]. Of the needs that were really warranted, broadband accessibility was one of the number one things. It would change our profile and really take the Industrial Park, which is our economic engine for the town, to a different standard, a different level.