a close-up of a heart valve implant on a table, being held by a glove hand
“Our innovative technology offers a significantly less invasive alternative to traditional open heart surgery,” Capstan Medical writes, “while ensuring a precise and reliable placement of the heart valve implant.”
Local Business

This week in Santa Cruz County business: Expansion ahead after Westside medtech firm raises millions

In her inaugural weekly roundup of news and notes from the Santa Cruz County business community, Jessica M. Pasko has the latest on startup Capstan Medical, job openings by sector, new board members for Visit Santa Cruz County 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.

Medtech company raises Series B funding round, plans Westside expansion

A Santa Cruz company working to transform the treatment of heart disease recently received $31.4 million in a new funding round as it looks to local expansion.

Capstan Medical is developing a minimally invasive technology to address heart valve disease; specifically, what’s known as mitral and tricuspid valve disease.

Founded in 2020 by Dan Wallace, Capstan Medical is headquartered in the Wrigley Building on the Westside and grew out of another business located there called Occam Labs. The latest round of funding will help the company with its expansion efforts, with a goal of doubling its headcount in the coming 12 months, according to CEO Maggie Nixon. They currently have around 30 employees who all work locally.

Capstan Medical will expand its offices in January to a bigger space in the Wrigley Building and plans to maintain its headquarters here in Santa Cruz, Nixon told Lookout.

“We’re committed to growing here,” said Nixon. “We love the location, especially the proximity to Natural Bridges.”

Read my full story here.

State releases latest numbers on top job openings by sector

Teachers and instructors at both the high school and elementary school levels comprise almost 8,000 of the projected job openings from 2020 to 2030 for the region defined by the state as “North Central Coast.” That includes Monterey, Santa Cruz and Benito counties. (Total job openings is the sum of exits, transfers and numeric change.)

Just ahead of the Labor Day holiday, the California Employment Development Department released a full examination of the state’s most in-demand jobs. Other fast-growing sectors within the three counties includes the “high-skills” category include general and operations managers (at 4,590 projected job openings) and project management specialists and business operations specialists (3,240 openings).

A regular feature as Lookout talks to people in Santa Cruz County about their jobs and offering advice to those looking...

General and operations managers are defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as people who “plan, direct or coordinate the operations of public or private sector organizations, overseeing multiple departments or locations.” The category encompasses employees who aren’t specific to one department or function, and excludes first-line supervisors. Business operations specialists is essentially a blanket term for positions focused on managing workflow across operations.

Within the “high skill” designation, nurses also continue to be in top demand, with an estimated 3,170 openings.

At the “middle skill level,” truck drivers headed the pack with a projected 4,520 job openings.

The biggest projected job opening number overall? That would be farmworkers and laborers, for which the state projects 75,580 total openings by 2030 in the region. (These fall under the “entry-level” categorization.)

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into how these numbers break down for Santa Cruz County specifically.

Visit Santa Cruz County appoints six new board members

As of July 1, Visit Santa Cruz County has six new board members:

  • Justin Cummings, county supervisor for the Third District.
  • Jeanette Guire, travel trade representative at Roaring Camp Railroads.
  • Mercedes Lewis, program manager, Arts Council Santa Cruz County.
  • Doug Lord, general manager of Chaminade Resort and Spa.
  • Derek Timm, real estate broker and Scotts Valley city council member.
  • Rupesh Zavar, owner of Casablanca Inn on the Beach in Santa Cruz.

They will sit on the 25-member board of directors for two-year terms. Visit Santa Cruz County is the private, nonprofit tourism marketing organization for the region.

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

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

Ben Ward, co-owner at The Slough Brewing Collective, holds up Narcan.
Ben Ward, Slough Brewing Collective co-owner, holds up Narcan in December as part of a pilot program to make the opioid antagonist available at Santa Cruz County bars and nightclubs. Read more on that here.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Save the date

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

  • Tuesday, Sept. 12: AI & Society: Issues & Opportunities. Details here.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 13: Santa Cruz Accelerates hosts its fifth pitch contest. Details here.
  • Thursday, Sept. 14: The Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce’s annual business and health expo at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Info here.

Looking at the numbers

9,100: The number of jobs that Santa Cruz County gained between 2017 and 2022, accounting for a 9% increase. That’s according to the 2023 Santa Cruz County State of the Workforce report.

4.8%: That’s the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Santa Cruz County as of July, from the California Employment Development Department. It’s down from 5.3% in June but up from 4% last year. It matches the state’s 4.8% rate, but is higher than the national rate of 3.8%.

8.8 million: The number of U.S. job openings, according to the latest reports from the U.S. Department of Labor. This marks the first time the number of openings has fallen below 9 million since March 2021.

Business news worth reading

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.