Looking Back on the Top 15 Wins in 2015

December 30, 2015

This year has been busy! As your Economic Development team we are constantly working to support our local businesses and promote the conditions that foster a strong local economy, which include developing the physical and cultural infrastructure for our economic future.

I invite you to take a look back at the top 15 wins for Economic Development in 2015:

1. This year we were excited to unveil our new economic development website: We worked with local creative agency, Design By Cosmic, to create a new and improved platform for promoting our local industries and businesses and to more effectively get resources into the hands of new and growing businesses. The website also features an editorial series, titled "In Depth", which profiles local business owners and industry leaders in Santa Cruz. We celebrated the launch with a Pop-Up Market showcasing local retailers and makers.

2. In September, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 107, which released nearly $16 million for previously approved projects in our city, including $7.3 Million for the Metro Pacific Station, Highway 1/9 Intersection Improvements, and the Santa Cruz Wharf.

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Presentation of released bond funds to City Council.

3. On December 8th, the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved the Fiber-to-Home gigabit network. This is huge for Santa Cruz because it will provide accessible and affordable internet service to residents and businesses, and will help us to grow as a tech and business hub.

4. In June, the City Arts website was launched, providing the public with a visually exciting place to learn about our public art collection, to read blog posts from local arts experts, to apply for grant funding and to find other key resources for artists and arts organizations.

5., an online events calendar, reached its one year anniversary this year. is the community’s free, convenient and open calendar resource for all arts and cultural events. Now event organizers can post their event information in one place while audiences, media, curated websites, and bloggers can easily import event information for sharing or for their own calendars.

6. In addition to sponsoring community events like the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup and Event Santa Cruz, Economic Development staff organized the Tour of Women in Tech, which was focused on connecting high school and college women interested in tech with today's successful women in the industry.

7. This year we celebrated the completions of The Buttery and Flower Shack façade improvement projects, and the Beach Street Inn and Suites Motel Improvement project.

8. Housing has been an issue at the forefront in 2015. To further this conversation, Economic Development facilitated the Tour of Affordable Housing, taking City staff to see the formally affordable housing units that the City has help build over the last couple of decades. Another win for housing came in the form of the hiring of a HUD and Housing Program Specialist, who will help to expand the capacity of the City housing team.

9. The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center opened new exhibits this December, geared toward enhancing the visitor experience.

10. Economic Development added new business tools to the resources available on the new website: ZoomProspector, which provides the public with information about available commercial space, and a new version of OpenCounter, our online business startup permitting resource.

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Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center

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Housing Tour on the Santa Cruz Trolley

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Photo Booth at the #ChooseSantaCruz Pop-Up Market

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The Buttery Facade Improvement Project

11. In November. the City started the West Levee Parkway improvements between Laurel Street and Water Street, which includes the installation of energy efficient LED lights on the levee pathway.

12. The Colligan Theater for the Performing Arts opened in the fall of this year at the Tannery Arts Center, with the inaugural performance of Guys and Dolls.

13. The Economic Development Department partnered with Arts Council Santa Cruz County and the Coastal Watershed Commission to present the extremely well attended Ebb & Flow River Arts Celebration. During the month of June, hundreds of community members joined together to activate and reimagine the San Lorenzo Riverwalk through public art installations, performances, and education.

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Ebb and Flow Parade. Photo by Crystal Birns

14. The annual City Arts Report was presented to Council in October laying out key policies and procedures, that are aimed at greater transparency and direction for the City Arts Program.

15. Finally, as of December 15, 2015, the Graffiti Abatement Program has removed over 4,100 tags from the City of Santa Cruz this year! This totals over 53,200 square feet of graffiti removed; that’s larger than a football field! The Graffiti Abatement Program also integrated a new app into their system, which will allow community members to now snap pictures of graffiti and send them directly to the abatement team.

We are already looking forward to 2016 and have many projects and initiatives in the works. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay informed of everything going on in Economic Development, and to receive updates on projects and weekly articles. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to sign up.

Dear Housing, I’d Like You to Meet Jessica

Santa Cruz Fiber to be First Gigabit Fiber-to-the-Home Network in Silicon Valley