Three different entities have aligned in the Good Land to form the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet, or GEM, an upcoming resource for start-up companies to learn the ins and outs of running a successful business in the Goleta Valley. The project — which will include an informational website to be launched later this year, as well as various meetings and events — is a collaboration between the City of Goleta, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, and UCSB.
“All the right factors in our community have aligned to bring us together,” said Kristen Miller, the president of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “For a few years, all three of our groups have been aware that we have a strong pipeline of engineers in our community and lots of different companies that are able to find the resources to start a business and grow here. Keys to their success were connections with UCSB, the city, and businesses. I’m very excited about this.”
Goleta Mayor Ed Easton, who announced GEM along with Miller and UCSB’s Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, at the State of the City lunch on May 18, is equally excited, well aware of the brimming business potential that the city is blessed with.
“Goleta is sitting right next door to the university, and what’s coming out of the university can be made use of to bring new and technologically advanced start-ups to Goleta,” he said. “One of the best things that comes to a city is an educated, intellectual population with people that are doing creative work that they really enjoy. We get to skim the cream.”
UCSB’s Lucas, who is also a member of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, agreed, writing in an email that he believes the collaboration behooves the university as much as it does the city. “The university hopes to fulfill its mission of public service by getting more ideas born at the university into useful products and services in the community, as well as helping the community with job creation and economic vitality.”
Although GEM is sure to attract many UCSB-affiliated entrepreneurs, all Goleta-based start-ups are welcomed — and encouraged — to participate. The website will provide information about everything from permitting and hiring to managing finances and navigating the commercial real estate market. And helping the businesses stay in Goleta is also paramount, said Miller.
“Businesses face challenges. We’d like to be able to help them in minimizing the effects,” she said, noting GEM’s focus on “connecting businesses to the community in a way that helps.”
“We want to draw people together,” Miller continued. “We think there’s strength in numbers. You can achieve bigger things.”