Quick Take:

In her weekly roundup of news and notes from the Santa Cruz County business community, Jessica M. Pasko previews a public hearing on the move to increase what businesses pay to the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz, checks in on the mac & cheese pros at Goodles, rounds up events and more.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects on economies everywhere, we’ll be taking a closer look at the movers and shakers, the growth of industries, and what’s really driving the Santa Cruz County economy. I’ll be spotlighting some of the biggest areas for opportunity, updates on local development and all things underpinning the regional business scene each Wednesday.

Got ideas? Send them my way to news@lookoutlocal.com with “Business news” in the subject line.

Downtown assessment fee coming up for public comment

an aerial view of downtown Santa Cruz
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz City Council has approved moving forward with an increased assessment fee on downtown businesses, the first such increase in 30 years.

The proposal would increase the annual assessment fee that downtown businesses currently pay from 47 cents to 54 cents per square foot. The money collected by the city is sent directly to the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz, according to executive director Jorian Wilkins.

This funding supports everything from marketing for downtown Santa Cruz as well as cleaning, safety and hospitality services. The association says it needs the increased fee to pay for these services and more, especially as foot traffic increases. In fact, the association said it answered 20% more inquiries at its information kiosk on Pacific Avenue in 2022 compared to 2021, and visitor numbers continue to increase. The fee, supported by the organization’s board of directors, was approved by the city council Sept. 12.

A public hearing will be held Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. for the city council to hear comments on the proposed fee.

Read more about the proposal and why the Downtown Association says it’s needed here.

Goodles raises $13 million in new funding

Goodles Cheddy Mac & Cheese
Santa Cruz-based Goodles launched its boxed mac & cheese product in four varieties on Tuesday. Credit: Courtesy Katrin Bjork

Goodles, the Gal Gadot-backed macaroni & cheese brand, has announced it has raised $13 million in a new funding round. The company, headquartered in the Old Sash Mill in Santa Cruz, launched in late 2021 with a mission to create a healthier, tastier mac & cheese. Its products can be purchased online and in national retail stores like Target and Whole Foods, among other locations.

According to the company, Goodles is on track to triple its sales in 2023 and has already sold seven billion boxes of noodles since it first landed on shelves in 2022. “Wonder Woman” actress Gadot is a founding partner of the brand, which now offers nine varieties of boxed mac & cheese (including a vegan option) and a line of pasta.

See Lily Belli’s previous story on the company and its products here.

ICYMI: Santa Cruz Skateboards marks 50 years in business

inside the headquarters of NHS, the company behind Santa Cruz Skateboards and other iconic skate brands
Inside the Seabright headquarters of NHS, the company behind Independent Trucks, Santa Cruz Skateboards and other iconic skate brands. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Skateboards has become one of the most famous skateboard brands in the world, widely recognized by its famous dot logo and Jim Phillips’ iconic “screaming hand” image.

The company has been operating from its Eastside headquarters for half a century, with 85% of its employees in Santa Cruz County. Lookout’s Wallace Baine has the scoop on how the company has evolved, grown and continued to stay on the cutting edge as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Read his piece here.

Ch-ch-changes: Openings, closings and other developments

  • The Multi Shoppe celebrates one year in business: The vintage store on Main Street in Soquel marked its first anniversary this past weekend.
  • Joby Aviation to build first aircraft production facility in Ohio: The Santa Cruz-headquartered electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft company announced this week it will be building a new facility at a 140-acre site at Dayton International Airport, with a goal of delivering up to 500 aircraft per year. The company says the site will allow it to support future growth, with space to build up to 2 million square feet of manufacturing facilities. Headquarters will remain in Santa Cruz and the company also operates a research and development facility in Marina in Monterey County.

Got hires, promotions or departures to report? Send them to news@lookoutlocal.com with the subject line “Career changes.”

Save the date

  • Thursday: The Closet Shopper & Live Happier Wellness host a business mixer for local business owners from 5-7 p.m. at 1203 41st Ave., Capitola.
  • Friday, Sept. 29 – Sunday, Oct. 1: Shift4Impact — an exclusive weekend focused on women in entrepreneurship. Details here.

Add your business or networking events to Lookout’s free public calendar, BOLO. Click here to add your event.

Looking at the numbers

  • 1 in 3: That’s the number of people in Santa Cruz County estimated to be food-insecure, according to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. September marks Hunger Action Month, a national effort to raise awareness of food insecurity in the U.S.

Business news worth reading

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Jessica M. Pasko has been writing professionally for almost two decades.She cut her teeth in journalism as a reporter for the Associated Press in her native Albany, NY, where she covered everything from...