Looking back at 2017's greatest hits

February 27, 2018

2017 was an incredibly busy year and 2018 so far is certainly not an exception. Here in Economic Development we have been working hard on our economic development work plan, providing one-on-one business support, installing new murals citywide, and even helping to create new units of affordable housing.

One of our core focus areas is supporting businesses who are starting up or growing in our community. Here is a snapshot of the new businesses we welcomed in Santa Cruz this year and the type of support we provided throughout 2017. 

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Looking back on 2017, here are our top ten wins from the past year:

1. We hosted our 3rd annual Choose Santa Cruz Pop Up Market and it was bigger than ever! Over 700 people came through over the course of the event. Attendees were able to decorate cookies from Pacific Cookie Company, try delicious jambalaya samples from Roux Dat, get their craft on with Arts Council Santa Cruz County, and purchase some great items from the amazing vendors in attendance: Lili Arnold StudiosNut KreationsThis Tiny OceanSanta Cruz Mountain Wine Growers AssociationsFlora & FaunaYarn Shop, and Upcyled Skate Art. Co-hosted by Design By Cosmic, this annual event is a great way to celebrate some of our small businesses and local artists.


2. Economic Development launched our second business specific start-up guide for consultants and solopreneurs. The guides walks you through the process of getting your business up and running on the right track. We know that many freelancers and consultants enjoy the balance and freedom of working from home, out of a coffee shop, or as part of the community in one of our local coworking spaces. Given this unique framework where you don't really have one place of business or a physical headquarters, it can be confusing to know what type of permits you might need and where to even find that information. That's why we created this handy guide where you can learn all about the permits you need and tools and resources available specifically for freelancers and consultants.

3. We launched a new videos series: The Sit Down. Collaboration is everywhere in Santa Cruz. From entrepreneurs that come together to start a new business, to businesses sharing materials and supplies, we are a community that loves to work together. Our newest Choose Santa Cruz video series, The Sit Down, is all about local businesses that work together. The first video in this series featured long time Santa Cruz business Santa Cruz Guitar Company. We got to sit down with Richard Hoover, founder and CEO, to learn more about his business and his collaboration with Ventana Surfboards and Supplies and Sylvan Music.

4. Pulling together a truly engaging and cohesive story takes time. As such, we are very proud to have released our second podcast episode featuring Santa Cruz Startup: Buoy Labs. Buoy Labs is changing the way we think about and use water with their innovative product, the Buoy. The Buoy connects directly to your household water main, and through a super sleek app provides you with real time data about your water use, and can even remotely turn off your water in the case that a leak is detected. To learn more, take a listen to the episode.

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5. We celebrated the opening of the Abbott Square Market this summer. Located in the outdoor plaza adjacent to the Museum of Art & History (MAH), this lively space supported by the City is sure to draw you in with the music, bright colors, and amazing food and drink. The Abbott Square Market has been many years in the making, but has always been envisioned to be a place for family, friends, fun, culture, art, and good food and drink. On any given day you may see yoga in the secret garden, kids crafting during crafternoons, or friends meeting for happy hour or a meal at one of the mini-restaurants or bars: Veg on the Edge, Poke It, Milk & Wood, Front & Cooper, All Aboard, Pizzeria la Bufala, and a Cat & Cloud and Companion Bakery collaboration: Cat.Cloud.Companion. Be sure to take a look at the mural titled "Community Quiltage" by Thomas Campbell funded in part through our mural matching grant program.

6. We launched our 3 year workplan. The Economic Development Department has a broad reaching scope of priorities that require collaboration across City departments and have a lasting impact on the economic growth of the broader community. In an effort to monitor these priorities and key projects following the City Council’s strategic planning efforts and in support of the City’s General Plan 2030 Economic Development Goals, the Economic Development team put together a three-year Strategic Workplan, which the City Council approved in May 2017. The Economic Development 2017-2019 Strategic Workplan touches on work conducted in all five divisions of the Department and is primarily focused on direct actions and initiatives that contribute to and support a vibrant growing economy.

7. This fall we unveiled a new mural in SCOPE Park titled "Jump In!" by Santa Cruz resident Sarah Bianco. This colorful mural features local children jumping in a variety of poses along the Santa Cruz shoreline and encourages the community to embrace joy, enthusiasm and inclusiveness. The Santa Cruz City Arts Commission champions the arts as essential to daily life by supporting a vibrant arts culture, enlivening our public spaces and shaping innovative city policy.

8. There are many organizations and community groups contributing to the vitality of our community. We are proud to organize and sponsor many of the events happening here in town. This year we sponsored over 30 community events including in-kind staff support, some highlights include the 3rd Annual Ebb and Flow event celebrating art and the San Lorenzo River, the monthly Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, the multi-day UCSC HACKathon, and the ever-popular Event Santa Cruz. 

9. We helped to fund the newly approved Affordable Housing project on Water Street. Water Street is one of the main transportation corridors in the City of Santa Cruz and it is soon to be the home of a new 41-unit affordable housing project at 712-718 Water Street. The newly approved housing development is approximately a half mile from the Downtown with easy access to shopping, jobs, parks, and schools– and within a quarter mile of the Water Street and Ocean Street intersection with direct bus service to almost anywhere else in the region.

The Water Street Project is estimated to cost approximately $17.6 million with primary funding coming from the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program. The City is also providing loans from its housing fund sources including: former Redevelopment Agency Bonds; the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund; and our federal Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program grant. Building affordable housing involves leveraging funding from many different local, state, and federal resources, but we’re working together with developers and other government agencies to make it happen.

10. We celebrated national Small Business Week from April 30th to May 6th with a week-long "shop local" campaign and the Food Slam wrap up event. While it is important to shop local year-round, Small Business Week provided an opportunity to thank all of our small businesses for all they do for the community. 

Over 100 people attended the Food Slam on Saturday, May 6th at the Food Lounge. Nine local businesses participated, sampling their products and each giving a 3-minute food related presentation. Attendees were able to sample wine, snack on delicious empanadas, and even try a cotton candy chicken treat all while taking in the 3-minute presentations. To learn more about the event and participating business, click here.

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These are just a few of the highlights from 2017. We are already underway with some exciting projects for 2018. 

We want to specifically mention 3 goals we are continuing to work on in the new year: 

1. Filling our office and retail space in the downtown and helping to create new class A office space and new R&D space city-wide while preserving light industrial to create viable spaces for local businesses to do what you do best. 

2. Creating places for you to live. Affordably. As a community we are working on this. In addition to around 700 market rate and affordable units being planned or in construction in the downtown, there are numerous projects planned city wide that we are moving forward. 

3. Building a business friendly City Hall. We want to be the first call you make when you are thinking about starting or growing your business in Santa Cruz. We have created the first official Business Liaison for the City and in this role Rebecca is here to serve as a single point of contact to call for questions about any of your business needs and to help you navigate the permitting process. Economic Development Coordinator Amanda is also a fantastic resource for questions about resources to grow your business or get access to assistance through our many programs including our Facade Improvement and Commercial Signage Grant programs. 

Keep an eye out for new articles, resources, videos, and podcasts as well as some new initiatives we will be undertaking with our community partners to further support the growth and overall vitality of local businesses. And most importantly, if you have plans for something new this year and a need help navigating or just want to say hello and get to know the Economic Development team feel free to send us an email or give us a call at 831-420-5157. 

Wishing you all a prosperous new year! 

All Earth. Allterra

The Sit Down: Nielsen Studios