Monday, November 12 , 2018, 5:16 pm | Fair 65º


Supporters of Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet Check Out Potential GEM of an Office Site

Small-business collaborative of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, UCSB and the City of Goleta works to raise funds and awareness

Those still wondering what the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet does were given a glimpse Wednesday of a physical space the small-business incubator could soon call home.

A group of invited guests gathered at 475 Pine Ave. in Old Town Goleta for an open house hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to raise funds and awareness for GEM, its partnership with the City of Goleta and UC Santa Barbara to attract and nurture local tech start-up businesses.

Until now, the collaborative has had no home.

GEM’s lone employee, executive director Doug Lynch, welcomed supporters into 2,000 square feet that could become a conference room if enough donations can be gathered to lease the former tech company space.

“The goal is by the first of the year,” Lynch said of a move-in date. “We’re open for suggestions.”

Lynch, who took on the new role in April, said the Goleta chamber and UCSB would match any funds supporters can provide.

Chamber president and CEO Kristen Miller said GEM could move into the entire building — that also includes 5,000 square feet of office space and storage warehouse-like space, respectively — or a portion of it.

Costs of the nonprofit operating the entire space were estimated at $12,000 to $15,000 per month.

GEM executive director Doug Lynch talks with an attendee at Wednesday's open house. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk)

“I’m very excited about this one,” Miller said. “There are so many options in this one building.”

UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas and Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves also offered words of encouragement, referring to a physical GEM space as a major milestone.

“There’s a lot of energy in this room, and we need to build on that,” Aceves said. “This is a beautiful space. It really is. This only works if we have a true public-private partnership.”

Lynch said GEM is also seeking more advisers and mentors to pair with entrepreneurs, who have yet to officially commit as potential tenants.

Startups, many of which would come out of UCSB, could ideally use the incubator space for one to two years before growing out into the Goleta community, Lynch said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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