With no end in sight for the well-publicized woes of the U.S. economy, Americans have been tightening their belts and searching more diligently than ever for money-saving deals. In the fall of 2009, longtime local entrepreneur Jacques Habra had an idea: Why not save consumers the hassle of bargain hunting by bringing the best deals in town directly to their computers and mobile devices? From that simple concept, SBclick was born.

SBclick is an online content-delivery platform that brings the best that Santa Barbara has to offer to people’s fingertips. According to Melissa Tierney, director of business development and operations for the startup company, the goal is to give locals an easy way to stay connected with the heart of their community.

“People are in love with Santa Barbara,” Tierney said. “So the mentality in starting SBclick was that we just wanted to bridge the communication gap between people in the community and local merchants … there are just so many great things going on here all the time that people don’t always know about.”

By simply visiting the Web site, creating a free account, and answering a few quick questions to establish personal preferences, people can start receiving text and e-mail notifications about upcoming events, shows, concerts, local news updates, and, of course, deals that can’t be found anywhere else. Users can also view exclusive photos and video content from their favorite local hotspots. There is even an iPhone app so users can keep their finger on the pulse of the city 24 hours a day.

“It really is Santa Barbara in the palm of your hand,” said Tierney.

But Tierney stressed that SBclick is not exclusively for locals. Visitors — which Santa Barbara always has in abundance — can just as easily download the SBclick app to quickly and easily get caught up on local happenings, find different types of retailers and restaurants, and conveniently navigate the city with the site’s GPS.

Tierney says the response to SBclick has been so explosive since its inception that the young company already has plans to expand beyond Santa Barbara.

“We just signed a contract to expand into another major city in the United States,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t disclose those details until everything is finalized and operations are up and running. But I can tell you it is definitely a major city.”

SBclick has been self-funded so far, but the company is beginning to look for venture capital to assist with the expansion.

With the ubiquity of information available these days via the Internet and mobile and broadband devices — and the iPhone and Android smartphones leading the charge — Tierney admits that one of the biggest challenges is staying relevant and ahead of the pack. But she believes SBclick’s commitment to the vibrant and tight-knit Santa Barbara community, as well as the reciprocal relationships that it works so hard to cultivate with local merchants, is what sets the company apart. Local users have clearly responded with gratitude.

“You know, there are a lot of apps out there like Yelp and AroundMe — even Google has an app now that gives you information about what’s going on in whatever area you’re in,” Tierney said.

“But none of them have the content that we do; none of them have local businesses in the community signed into a platform, where they’re broadcasting their own content and specials. None of them have the granular content about the community that we do, and our users have expressed a ton of appreciation for that.”

Noozhawk contributor Kevin McFadden can be reached at kmcfadden@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.