Central Coast Business Wrap-up

A weekly look at news and trends affecting the business communities of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. The focus alternates weekly between the two counties.

The topic of workforce housing in San Luis Obispo is a hot one currently, really picking up steam during recent debate at the City Council meetings in regards to the newly approved update to the city’s general plan.

Brad Brechwald is the Principal and CEO of the Wallace Group, a Central Coast engineering and design firm. He’s also a cochair for a group working on economic solutions for the county’s housing needs, among other issues. It's one of six "cluster" groups working on various aspects of the local economy.

Business incubators are a growing trend on the Central Coast, and one of the more successful examples is San Luis Obispo’s Hot House. KCBX News Director Randol White speaks with the woman who helps make it all work.

Jay Thompson, Cal Poly

The Colleges and Universities that dot the Central Coast do far more than create an educated populace, they also account for a major portion of the area’s economy.

A recent study took a look at one university in particular—Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo—and found when you tabulate all of the various economic interactions that institution, its students, faculty and staff have with the surrounding area, the sum of those accounts for 12 percent of the entire county’s economic output.


Flickr member gt albert

Some business experts see troubling time ahead for the nation's smaller regional airports, including those along the Central Coast.

A number of local airports are struggling to keep direct service to major hubs in California and beyond, including Santa Barbara (SBA), Bakersfield (BFL) and Monterey Regional (MRY).

In the midst of this, the San Luis Obispo (SBP) Airport is working against the trend, trying to add direct service to both Denver (DEN) and Seattle (SEA).

The upcoming 4th Annual TechPitch event is put on by the SLO HotHouse in partnership with Cal Poly and the greater San Luis Obispo community.

Mike Manchak, President and CEO for the Economic Vitality Corporation and Chelsea Brown, Media Coordinator with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, discuss the details with KCBX News Director Randol White.


Flickr member Damian Gadal

This week's topics:

  • Proposed camping facilities for Port San Luis and Avila Beach
  • Montecito's Miramar hotel in line for an upgrade
  • Amazon SLO continues to expand 

This week's topics:

  • Fourth annual TechPitch event for the Cal Poly Small Business Development Center for Innovation and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Softec, and the Economic Vitality Corporation.
  • Clean Business Investment Summit showcasing socially responsible entrepreneurs at UCSB.
  • Central Coast Restaurateur Ian McPhee negotiating to take over Sebastian's General Store across from Hearst Castle.
Community Environmental Council

The Economic Vitality Corporatioin's (EVC) Mike Manchak is our guest this week on the Business Wrap-up.

Topics include:

  • Procore Technologies gets $15 million infusion of capital.
  • Solarize SLO (free workshops time/locations) working to expand solar energy in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara Counties.
  • San Luis Obispo-based FzioMed looking for FDA approval.
  • Latest unemployment numbers


  • A first-of-its-kind study by San Luis Obispo County's Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) shows the area's workforce housing supply is a major factor for both employers and employees throughout the county. According to the report, nearly 9 out of 10 employees say they have a hard time finding safe and affordable housing near their place of employment.
  • San Luis Obispo-based Mindbody is rolling out a "wellness exchange" for employers. 

The SLO HotHouse tops our conversation this week with Mike Manchak, President and CEO for the Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC), regarding the latest business news and trends along the Central Coast.

Cal Poly's successful program in downtown San Luis Obispo is funded by Cal Poly and the business community. It's hosting a summer accelerator program for student startups. The venture has successfully incubated companies that have since been acquired by large corporations.

Pacific Business Times reporter Stephen Nellis has an upcoming piece on this program.


Mike Manchak, President and CEO for the Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC), a non-profit working to generate jobs, promote start-ups, and increase investment throughout SLO County.


  • Potential Wave Energy Projects are being considered for the central coast from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo
  • Business incubators are starting to spring up, including a new one in Goleta.
  • Business-related events coming to the Central Coast in the coming weeks.


The economic outlook for Santa Barbara County shows continued growth in the coming year according to the latest University of California Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project report.

Each spring the project releases a series of reports on the area. Thursday's forecast focused on the South Coast region, including Santa Barbara, Capinteria, and Goleta.

Dr. Peter Rupert, Chair of the Department of Economics at UCSB, says personal income and Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) growth remained flat for several years, but in the past year has started to take off.

This week for the business wrap-up, we speak with the Economic Vitality Corporation's CEO/President Michael Manchak about the following topics:

  • New commercial center on Monterey Street in San Luis Obsipo
  • First co-working space opens in Santa Maria
  • UCSB Economic Forecast set to be released next Thursday, Friday

This week for the business wrap-up, we speak with the Economic Vitality Corporation's CEO/President Michael Manchak about the following topics:

  • SMS Masterminds goes public - raises more than $12 million
  • 805connect coming to SLO, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties