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.
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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.”
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).
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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.
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Ch-ch-changes: Openings, closings and other developments
- The Slough Brewing Collective changes hands: After three years of ownership, Erix Celis, Jorge Vazquez and Ben Ward have sold the Watsonville brewery to the owners of Buena Vista Brewing Co. (Lily Belli will have more on this soon.)
- Windmill Farm owners to retire: Longtime staples of local farmers markets Ronald Donkervoort and Cate Geyer are packing it up at the end of this year. After over three decades of farming, they’re retiring and moving to Spain. You’ve still got a few months left to say hello and grab some of their beautiful produce at the downtown Santa Cruz market on Wednesdays, the Live Oak market on Sundays or the Saturday market at Cabrillo College.
- Lucky Supermarket closes Capitola location: The 41st Avenue store shuttered on Aug. 31. New Leaf Community Markets plans to move its store from down the street into the King’s Plaza shopping center location early next year.
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
- Millions more workers would be entitled to overtime pay under a proposed Biden administration rule (Associated Press)
- Redwood Records emerges as a new touchstone of downtown Santa Cruz arts culture (Lookout)
- In San Francisco, hope for “rebirth and renewal” (New York Times)
- ICYMI: Can Verve Coffee stay true to its local roots as it embarks on a national partnership with Capital One (Lookout)
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