16 Wins for 2016!

January 19, 2017

Well, what a year 2016 was. We were busy working on major infrastructure projects, developing new programs to serve our small businesses, implementing and monitoring affordable housing programs, and installing new beautiful public art pieces among many other things. 

As we gear up for 2017, let's take a look back at some of the major highlights from last year: 

1. City's 150th

The City of Santa Cruz celebrated its 150th birthday in 2016. We celebrated this historic moment with an incredible beach party at Main Beach in October that included fireworks and a concert! We also wrote an article to look back on the evolution of industry in our community, hosted a tour of affordable housing developments, and our Public Art Manager and Library staff worked together to install historic photos on the outside of the library building.

2. Business Roadmap

In May, we launched the Business Roadmap, a new resource on that simplifies starting a business in Santa Cruz with four straightforward steps: Plan, Permit, Launch, and Grow. To access the Business Roadmap visit

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New Facade for De La Hacienda 

3. De La Hacienda Facade Improvement Project

We completed a facade improvement project with De La Hacienda Taqueria at 354 Washington Street. This project included a whole new look for the taqueria with a new coat of paint, new signage, and a new window to bring in additional natural light. The Facade Improvement Program provides grant funds to businesses to use towards improvements of their commercial facades, and has contributed to over 120 projects throughout the City over the years. 

4. 400+ New Businesses Open and 800+ Businesses Contacted

Over 400 businesses opened up in Santa Cruz this year including Amazon AWS who opened up shop in the Cooper House in March. The Economic Development team also had direct contact with about 850 different businesses or entrepreneurs through meetings, phone calls, business visits, and events. Furthermore, the Small Business Development Center, one of our key partners for business support services, helped advised 279 small businesses, helped 40 small businesses startup, presented 24 workshops in the City of Santa Cruz with 474 attendees. 

5. Choose Santa Cruz Pop Up Market

We hosted our second Choose Santa Cruz PopUp Market. Partnering again with Design by Cosmic, the event was a huge success with over 700 people coming through during the course of the evening to shop, snack, sip, network, and color.  Coffeeville, Childish Santa CruzMakse BarFarmer Freed Culinary Salt BlendsAgency, Glow Candle LoungeA’zaht DesignsCompanion BakeshopHive & Hum, and Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association all participated as vendors, displaying, sampling, and selling some of their awesome products and services. Check out the time-lapse video from our event below!

6. Choose Santa Cruz Podcast

The Economic Development team launched its very first Choose Santa Cruz Podcast featuring Kyle Doersken, founder of Future Motion Inc. and the mastermind behind Onewheel.  We met with Kyle at the Onewheel headquarters in the Wrigley Building to talk about how Onewheel was born, why he chose Santa Cruz as the home for his business, and where he sees the company going in the future. Stay tuned for more podcasts to come in 2017.

7. Six New In-depth Videos 

 As part of our In-depth editorial series highlighting Santa Cruz Industries, we released 6 new videos: Cathy Calfo with CCOF (Organics), Kendra Baker & Zach Davis with Glass Jar (Artisanal), Michelle Williams with Arts Council (Creative), Gary Griggs with UCSC & the Institute of Marine Science (Marine), Tom Morgan with Ibis Cycles (Sports), Jeff Larkey with Route 1(Organics). These videos are one tool we use to promote Santa Cruz and all the reasons why it is an amazing place to live and work. 

8. Downtown Side Street Signage

To better promote businesses along the side streets in our downtown, the Economic Development Office, with input from the Planning and Community Development Department, created the Side Street Signage Program. The signs incorporate the new brand colors of the Downtown Association and each business was able to provide input on the look of their business name. In October, signs were installed on Pacific Avenue at the corner of each side street. Over 30 businesses are listed, directing downtown visitors too all of the amazing stores and restaurants located along our side streets. 

9. Wireless Gigabit Serivce

In April, Siklu Inc., Cruzio and the City of Santa Cruz announced a project to bring gigabit internet speeds to local residential, business and community sites throughout Santa Cruz. Using hybrid fiber-wireless technologies – existing fiber connected to Siklu fiber-like wireless radios with service provided by Cruzio — this project will bring wireless gigabit service to Santa Cruz residents in just under 3 months. 

10. Water Street Housing Project

Throughout 2016 the City has been working with For the Future Housing (FTFH) to develop 41 units of affordable housing at 708-718 Water street. Three Water Street properties have been acquired and FTFH is currently developing the architectural plans for submittal to the City for approvals. Construction is expected to start this fall and be completed in 2018. The City has invested former Redevelopment housing bond proceeds, City Affordable Housing Trust Fund money, and City HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) Program funds in the project.

11. Monster of Monterey

The Monster of Monterey, recently installed at the north end of Pacific Street, was inspired by reports of a Loch Ness type monster in the Monterey Bay which later washed ashore in the 1920s. Artist Arnold Martin’s work was selected because “It seemed particularly fitting for Santa Cruz mixing technology and biology in a humorous piece that is ‘pretty far out!’” says City Arts Manager, Beth Tobey.

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Monster of Monterey by Arnold Martin

12. New Beach Flat Mural & Louden Nelson Mural Restoration

In September, Arts Commissioners, City Councilors, neighbors and friends gathered to celebrate the new mural at Beach Flats Park. Artist Irene Juarez O’Connell talked about all the themes in the mural and also invited several guests to speak about the history of the region.

The mural on the backside of the Louden Nelson Center received a face lift by artist Auturo Thomae last year, as a result of the collaboration between City Arts staff, Louden Nelson staff, and the Parks Department. Over the years, the mural had lost it vibrancy and 3-dimensional quality. Arturo added shading to the domes, columns, and other architectural features and gave a refresh to the figures. 

13. Sponsorship of over 25 tech and community events

There are so many great events happening each year in Santa Cruz, many of which we have helped to bring to fruition through our direct involvement and/or financial sponsorship.

  • We help organize and co- host the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, which has over 8,000 members and produced 10 packed events in 2016.
  • We are proud sponsors of Event Santa Cruz, who, in 2016, hosted 16 events celebrating the amazing musicians, artists, chefs, foodies, and entrepreneurs doing innovative things in Santa Cruz.
  • HACK UCSC 2016 was also a huge success, with over 500 students from colleges and high schools throughout the region teaming up to develop apps, software, and websites in the ares of innovation, tech cares, and labor tech. 
  • New this year, we sponsored the first ever Startup Weekend Santa Cruz, which brought together students, developers, designer, advocates, entrepreneurs, marketers, and change-makers. Participants had 54 hours to organize their team, develop their ideas, and finally make a pitch. The focus was on sustainable solutions and social impact, and the first place team won with their idea Conifr, a mobile app and competitive game for people to track and reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Economic Development is a three year sponsor of Santa Cruz Tech Beat, the go-to source for Monterey Bay Tech. Tech Beat posted over 300 articles on their website, sharing news about ag-tech, genomics, start ups, tech events, new products, and more. 
  • Finally, we have a long history of partnering with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to provide free and confidential support and mentorships to Santa Cruz Businesses. 

14. 14 New and Renewed Leases

Economic Development manages assets for the City including the Del Mar Theater and the Municipal Wharf among others. In 2016, Economic Development facilitated 4 new leases with Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Delaveage Golf Lodge Restaurant, Homeless Garden Project,and Dimeo Lane Mobile Home; 5 lease extensions with Atlantis Fantasyworld, Cafe Limelight, Cafe Campesino, Pascha Stevens, Delaveaga Golf Course Concession; and 2 new parklet leases with Hula's Island Grill and Lupulo Craft Beer House. Out on the wharf, we entered into 1 new license agreement and renewed 3 additional licenses. 



The Santa Cruz Recycled Art Program (SCRAP) launched this summer, giving seven artists access to the City’s Resource Recovery Facility to glean materials like recycled wood, metal, and other odds and ends to create works of art. Artists also received memberships to Idea Fab Labs – a local maker’s space with a huge array of tools and equipment which culminated in a final show presented in the distinguished R. Blitzer Gallery. This year's program was a huge success, and a win-win-win for all involved!

16. Holiday Shopping Guide

We partnered with local business Hive: Event Planning and Design to create a printed Holiday Shopping Guide that listed every retail store in Santa Cruz. Over 1,800 guides were distributed throughout the City and handed out to shoppers during the Holiday season. With a full color map and stores listed by type, it was easier than ever to shop local.

In Depth: Tejal Sood, Bayside Hotel Group

Starting a Retail Store? There's a Guide for That