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New Central Coast economic development entity unveiled

Power brokers and decision makers from northern Santa Barbara County and all of San Luis Obispo County gathered in Shell Beach Monday afternoon to hear more about a new, regional economic alliance called the Hourglass Project.

The goal of the Hourglass Project is to create an economic region stretching from northern Santa Barbara County into San Luis Obispo County that will attract companies and entrepreneurs providing good paying jobs.

The Hourglass Project event at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach was organized and hosted by the Central Coast Coalition of Chambers of Commerce.

“I think there’s a number of local leaders, whether that’s public sector or private sector businesses, that have recognized that we can be stronger as a unit, as a region, than we can be as a collective group of individuals”, said Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Glenn Morris, “tourism is a region wide industry but so is manufacturing, research and development, we have a great university, two really strong community colleges that help train people, we really do have a lot of assets when you look at this whole region as one, each of us a community have parts of that, when we bring it together, it’s stronger.”

Local Congressman Salud Carbajal was among those who attended the event Monday afternoon.

“Be it the national defense industry, the federal government, state government, local government and the private sector working together to identify and implement an economic development strategy that makes sense for the region”, Carbajal said.

“The number one question or concern I hear is, is there a talent base here? Of course we’re a strong piece of evidence that there certainly is”, said keynote speaker Rick Stollmeyer who is the founder and CEO of MINDBODY, a global company based in San Luis Obispo that employs more than one thousand people.

Stollmeyer is one of several local leaders from the private and public sectors that are behind the new Hourglass Project.

“We want to attract businesses that have a relatively light environmental footprint, of course, because we all want the high quality of life here, that give good, high-quality head of household jobs”, Stollmeyer said, “it’s not just a tourism-based economy, we love our tourism-based locations but if that’s all the economy is then it becomes a society of the haves and the have-nots, the people that have the money to spend and the people who serve them.”

Part of the strategy behind the Hourglass Project includes working with local city and county government to embrace the regional economic concept that includes providing more affordable, workforce housing.

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