This week in Santa Cruz County business: Doug Erickson Q&A, Arrow Surf’s move, Ambient Photonics funding
In her weekly roundup of news and notes from the Santa Cruz County business community, Jessica M. Pasko hears from Santa Cruz Works founder Doug Erickson on the local tech scene, AI and more, delivers updates on a temporary change of scene for Arrow Surf & Sport and what’s new with Scotts Valley’s Ambient Photonics, plus local events and recommended reading.
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 email@example.com with “Business news” in the subject line.
Looking at the state of the county’s tech scene with Doug Erickson
The tech sector has been hit hard the past few years, and analysts anticipate that tech layoffs in 2023 will exceed the number in 2022. Amazon, Google and Zoom are just a few of the big names that have made cutbacks this year. So far, there have been over 234,000 people laid off globally this year, according to the tracker Layoffs.fyi. (These numbers are based on where the companies are headquartered, not where the affected employees live.)
At the local level, we haven’t seen as much impact from this trend, in large part because of the scarcity of large tech offices here, as Bonnie Lipscomb, economic development director for the City of Santa Cruz, said earlier this year. However, that doesn’t account for people who live here but work remotely or commute to jobs for tech companies located elsewhere.
On the local tech front, one of the most significant developments in the past couple of years has been the rise of Joby Aviation. There’s also been a slew of recent funding announcements, including from Capstan Medical and Ambient Photonics in the past couple of weeks. What does all this mean? Are we on the up-and–up? What’s next with our local tech scene?
For context, I spoke with Doug Erickson. Erickson, the founder of Santa Cruz Works, a longtime veteran of the industry (and Community Voices contributor) who has pretty much seen it all. These days he’s also putting his efforts behind Santa Cruz Ventures, an investment fund focused on furthering the growth of technology companies in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.
The key takeaways from his perspective?
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, he believes the future is in artificial intelligence: “AI has come at us so fast. Most venture capital funding today is going to AI companies as opposed to pure software companies. We’re seeing the same thing in biotech. This is faster than anything we’ve ever seen in the tech world and it’s not going away.”
- Remote work is an opportunity to expand our tech community and foster more entrepreneurship at the local level.
- Affordable housing continues to be the No. 1 factor when it comes to companies doing business in Santa Cruz, even for tech.
- Keep a close eye on Joby Aviation.
Arrow Surf & Sport moves to new location (temporarily)
The store, which employs about eight to 10 people, has just completed a move to 2100 Delaware Ave., Suite A, near Swift Street, said owner/manager Tim Pearson, whose uncle founded the company. Pearson says they anticipate renovations at their original spot could take six months to a year, and they plan to return once it’s ready.
While hours for the new location are still being finalized, they’re fully functional in the new space, for sales, rentals and repairs, Pearson said. The store can be reached at 831-423-8286.
Pearson’s uncle, Bob Pearson, started the business back in 1976. In addition to the retail location, Arrow also operates a factory on the Eastside.
Arrow’s neighbor in the Mission Street shopping plaza, La Cabaña Taqueria, announced on its social media channels that it would be closing during renovations.The restaurant’s last day was Sept. 7; no timeline for reopening has been announced.
A regular feature as Lookout talks to people in Santa Cruz County about their jobs and offering advice to those looking...
Scotts Valley’s Ambient Photonics raises $30 million for solar cell technology
With its proprietary low-light energy harvesting technology, Ambient Photonics is aiming to replace disposable batteries in devices such as remote controls, keyboards, mice and other connected devices. Read more here on its plans.
Ch-ch-changes: Openings, closings and other developments
- Abbott SPI hits decade mark: The security guard service, based in downtown Santa Cruz, celebrated 10 years in business this month.
Got hires, promotions or departures to report? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Career changes.”
Save the date
Add your business or networking events to Lookout’s free public calendar, BOLO. Click here to add your event.
- Wednesday: Five finalists will compete in Santa Cruz Works’ pitch contest to win $5,000 for their company at 6-8 p.m at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz. Details and tickets here.
- Thursday: The Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce’s annual business and health expo at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Info here.
- Thursday, Sept. 21: The Closet Shopper & Live Happier Wellness host a business mixer for local business owners from 5-7 p.m. at 1203 41st Ave., Capitola.
- Thursday, Oct. 5: The Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Women’s Leadership Conference at the Chaminade Resort & Spa. Details here.
Looking at the numbers
- $55,000: That’s the asking price for the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, a monthly newspaper focused on the San Lorenzo Valley area. Check out the listing here.
- 104%: The growth of spending in downtown Santa Cruz as of spring 2023 when compared to pre-pandemic 2019, according to the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz.
Business news worth reading
- Downtown San Jose is poised to escape ‘doom loop’ scenario: experts (San Jose Mercury News)
- Urban density is coming to Santa Cruz; this group wants to stop the city from getting taller (Lookout)
- A billionaire real estate heir from Monaco makes waves in Carmel (SFGate)
- Fast food workers to get wage hikes in last-minute deal on bill that featured prominently in Santa Cruz (CalMatters)
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