Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 5:51 pm | Mostly Cloudy 60º

South Coast Business Forum Forms to Promote Regional Economic Development

City, county and business leaders talk strategy and find strength in numbers

By Taylor Orr, Noozhawk Business Writer | @NoozhawkBiz |

The South Coast Business Forum has been meeting with city and county leaders to build support for the forum’s efforts to develop a regional economic development strategy for the Santa Barbara area.

Michael Holliday
Michael Holliday

The forum includes representatives from the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, the Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Greater Santa Barbara Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau and Santa Barbara Film Commission.

The group has been meeting for more than a year and held two major organizational events last year.

The first event was a Board of Directors meeting in September at the Rincon Beach Club with more 60 attendees, including representatives of all of the South Coast business organizations involved.

The second event was the South Coast Business Forum held in November that was a sold-out gathering of several hundred business and community leaders at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

Michael Holliday, CEO of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, told Noozhawk that chamber leaders have been meeting with city and county leaders to build support for the South Coast Business Forum and have been receiving input and encouragement for the chamber’s efforts to develop a regional economic development strategy for the Santa Barbara area. The focus for the forum will be accommodating businesses in the clean technology, green technology and high technology fields.

Holliday said the forum would like to help leading businesses in those industries start and build their organizations in the Santa Barbara region.

“The Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta areas are fantastic places to start new businesses, and our goal is to help innovative entrepreneurs who value the South Coast lifestyle to launch and incubate their own clean technology companies,” Holliday said.

He calls this concept “Start It in Santa Barbara” and describes it as a regional outreach effort for the South Coast to promote sustainable economic development while maintaining the community’s environmental values.

“The city, county and business support organizations have so much potential to work together and to support each other, and that is what the forum is focused on achieving. When you look at each of our cities and business areas, we really are very complimentary in what our regions desire and can accommodate,” Holliday said. “What the Goleta area can support will typically not work well in downtown Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria has other options to accommodate different types of large commercial and industrial companies that may not fit well in the other areas, so we see some real compatibility between the various city and county areas regarding what type of businesses our region can accommodate.”

Although a company may grow and become so successful that it moves elements of the business somewhere other than the South Coast, keeping corporate headquarters in the Santa Barbara area is a goal of the South Coast Business Forum, Holliday said.

“We also have new networking and video conferencing technologies that will allow one to live in Santa Barbara and manage a business almost anywhere,” he said. “There is no place quite as unique and beautiful as Santa Barbara, and we want to make it not only a great place to live but also a fantastic place for the right companies to do business.”

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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