“Out of high school, I seriously didn’t know what I wanted to do in life,” Terrie Banish said recently, “but looking back, I realize all the choices I made eventually led me to the job I was meant to have. My heart is in this!”
“This” is the position of Deputy City Manager, Outreach, Promotions and Events held by Terrie since May, 2015 about which she describes, “It takes a lot of work to have fun,” as anyone who’s ever worked in promotions, events and community projects will attest. While the City of Atascadero may seem like a quiet town, it’s actually steeped in amazing history, beautiful natural panoramas, and warm summer nights. It just needed that perfect someone to come stitch it all together into one pitch: Come and have fun.
As glamorous as that sounds, the task of beckoning people from near and yon is anything but. Early mornings, late nights, blue jeans, ball caps, clipboards, uncooperative weather … and that’s just for special events. Promotion of a City requires red tape, yellow tape, funding, approvals, administration, working with businesses and media—there’s no exact formula. It involves vision, determination, skill, timing and experience. Turns out, Terrie was that someone, lauded by the City Manager and the Mayor as the “perfect fit.”
Terrie described how it all came to be. “The City Council, during a Strategic Planning Session several years ago established outreach and promotions as a primary goal. They realized the potential of their community and, being very forward-thinking and progressive, decided to create a position dedicated to marketing the City’s assets of which there are many more than most people realize,” she said, naming The Faces of Freedom Memorial, Atascadero Lake Park, Pavilion on the Lake, the Charles Paddock Zoo, Historic City Hall, Downtown, the Sunken Gardens and surrounding historic buildings, hiking trails, golf courses, events and activities, a first-class movie theatre, breweries, and wine tasting as just a few.
She proudly proclaimed, “Atascadero boasts the best collection of hamburgers on the Central Coast and the annual Tamale Festival (held in January) has become enormously popular, running out of tamales by 2:30!” Explaining further, she said, “These are the types of things people love and enjoy down-home, family friendly and community-oriented. It’s like coming home.” Which is the point. “We want people to come here, stay here and enjoy our city, or as we say, ‘Stay, Sleep, Spend’ because we really do have loads of things for people to enjoy,” she said emphatically.
Terrie believes Atascadero’s location is also an asset. “We are very centrally located,” she said. “From here you are within 20 minutes to most of the county’s other attractions: Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, north county wine country,” she said. “So whether you live here, vacation here or stop here on your way north or south, you’re going to love Atascadero.”
It’s obvious why Terrie was chosen out of more than 100 applicants for the newly formed job, taking into account her obvious enthusiasm for Atascadero along with more than 25 years experience in advertising, marketing, sales, media and event planning and tourism. After graduating college, she worked for Six Flags Theme Parks and was promoted through the years in the corporation’s tour and travel business, promotions and marketing partnerships. Later working in other corporate positions and eventually moving to the Central Coast with her husband Tom, she became VP of Advertising Sales for The Tribune and was involved in many boards and civic organizations before landing her current position. Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard, noted after Terrie’s hiring, “I am particularly pleased to be able to appoint a very well qualified individual who comes to us with a great deal of local knowledge and also with a fresh perspective.”
Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Terrie moved to California to attend Moorpark Community College and later San Diego State University, obtaining her B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. She got a taste for coordinating events while interning at Huish Family Fun Center in San Juan Capistrano, a miniature golf park.
She said she really enjoyed the ‘theme park environment’ and went on to use everything she learned in marketing through experience in the Group Sales department handling corporate consignment programs and company picnic events to Corporate Sponsorship Sales working with Best Western Philips Magnavox, Chevrolet and others for Six Flags California (Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor Water Park) as well as the other Six Flags parks across the county. “That’s when truly I learned about all that goes into events, marketing and how much hard work goes into creating fun,” she said.
During this period of her life, Terrie met her husband-to-be Tom Banish after her best friend set her up on a blind date—“My first ever,” she said—and the rest is storybook success. “We celebrated our 26th anniversary this year!” she shared. Their daughter, Cassidie, will be 16 in November. Terrie tells the story that she and Tom, then a commercial diver, took a honeymoon trip to northern CA wine country during which time they became enchanted with the idea of making their own wines.
After researching and educating themselves, they decided to buy property in San Miguel to start their own winery that they named Black Hand Cellars, reflecting an interesting family legend:
“Our great grandmother on the Banish side of the family told about how her husband made great wine and how the Black Hand Mafia found a liking to his wine and would seek him out for it. From this era we found the stories of our great grandfather’s experiences interesting. With our identity chosen, we have enjoyed focusing our theme around the lifestyle of the roaring 20s along with saluting the stained hands of workers harvesting the rich, red wine varietals.
The winery’s tasting room is in Cambria and they are now planting apple trees for hard cider. Cassidie has also shown an interest in agriculture and is busy with her own FFA projects. During the first two years when the couple was starting on the winery adventure, Terrie continued with her career in Southern California and commuted until she found employment locally. Working for The Tribune was a different world from what she was used to and though she said initially it was hard to make the break from the excitement of entertainment marketing, she soon found a new world she loved.
“I quickly got involved in local activities and programs like the Paso Robles Main Street, Chamber of Commerce and Library Foundation.”
She worked as a national account manager for The Tribune managing accounts for corporations like Home Depot, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Target. She also was involved in Atascadero civic activities, serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board and Atascadero Wine Festival committee. “North County involvement is my passion,” she said, adding that in March 2019 she will be dancing in the popular local fundraiser “Dancing With Our Stars” to raise money for Friends of the Atascadero Library. Although Terrie says she wasn’t looking for a new job, one day she received a call from a friend that a new position for marketing was opening for the City of Atascadero. “My husband said, ‘Wow, this has your name all over it, that’s YOU!’ ”
Now, more than three years later, Terrie remains excited about her assignment and is proud of the accomplishments so far. “We’re putting Atascadero on the map!” she pronounced. As an example of her coordinated efforts with other organizations and volunteers, the Atascadero Tourism Business Improvement District received the 2017 Tourism Champion of the Year Award from VisitSLOCAL for its destination marketing efforts bringing tourism to the area.
Terrie gets that promotions are a constant effort and also a balancing act to be sensitive to the needs of the businesses that might feel the impacts.
“We have great momentum but realize we still have so much more work to do.” She cited encouraging more non-profit organizations to coordinate and publicize their in-city events. “We’re definitely open to those who want to bring in their own events such as marathons, cider festivals and craft beer festivals. We’ll work with those groups about obtaining permits and approvals and to developing plans to remain sustainable,” she said. “We want to set the example and set the bar, be on every calendar.” Though Terrie says her life isn’t your typical 9–5, she’s okay with that. “Events are demanding but it is definitely worth it when you see it all come together. She said, “It takes a Village to make it all come together and continue to grow.”
Go to VisitAtascadero.com for a calendar of events through 2019.