GEM, the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet, is designed to support new and growing technology entrepreneurs, Mayor Ed Easton said at Friday’s State of the City luncheon, hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.
With a website dedicated to start-to-finish advice for any entrepreneur, including permitting, commercial real estate tips and finding a workforce, GEM will bring together the know-how of all three partners, said Gene Lucas, UCSB’s executive vice chancellor. There are four to six startups out of UCSB every year, he said, and the university is eager to put its research to good use helping even more Goleta-based entrepreneurs.
Easton said the collaboration is in the early stages, with the website still in development, but it should bring budding businesspeople together and integrate the Goleta Valley’s government, business and education resources to help them.
Celebrating its 10th year of cityhood, Goleta’s fifth annual State of the City address provided a positive outlook on the community’s future.
“We’ve had challenges and opportunities, but we’re certainly far stronger than we were back then,” Easton said.
City Manager Dan Singer said the city isn’t really a tourist or university town; 67 percent of its jobs are white-collar jobs and the 30,000 population has “exceptionally high” household incomes and college degrees.
“It’s an economic condition ripe for business,” he said. “We’ve got room not just for businesses to start here, but to grow.”
Singer added that Goleta’s economic outlook is a lot rosier than its neighbors; between better tax revenues and the expiration of a revenue neutrality agreement with the county, the city will be getting a 20 percent boost in revenues for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
In the past five years, local companies have kicked chain stores out of the top 10 largest employers, and the Goleta Valley may be on the brink of a white-collar job boom, Singer said. The region’s businesses have received $463 million of venture capital funding since 2010 that the city knows about, and some big companies are coming to town in the near future, including Deckers Outdoor Corporation, and a new Courtyard by Marriott is slated to open on Storke Road in the fall.
“It has become quite the bustling city,” Easton said.