The Santa Barbara Foundation, a foundation established to improve the lives of community members through philanthropy, recently pledged $25,000 to the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet (GEM), a partnership between the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the City of Goleta and UCSB.

The Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet provides resources in the form of advice, space and capital to new and growing entrepreneurs, according to the GEM website. In addition to the $25,000 provided by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Goleta and UCSB will each donate $150,000 over three years to help fund GEM.

According to Kristen Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Barbara Foundation made the donation to boost the local economy.

“The Santa Barbara Foundation’s goal is economic development. They see that the best way to promote some of the social goals they have is that if people have good jobs, they’ll have a good life,” Miller said. “We have a rich history of having tech entrepreneurs in the Goleta Valley, so we made it our mutual goal to form a group that would allow these people to create business in our area.”

Gene Lucas, former UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor, said UCSB decided to donate to GEM in order to benefit its students as well as the community at large.

“I think [the partnership] will find a way for our students and our faculty to take their ideas that they generate the laboratories of UC Santa Barbara, and take them out into the business community and make them successful businesses,” Lucas stated at the Oct. 13 Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet Meeting. “A facility like this is a good step in that direction.”

UCSB’s Technology and Management Program, designed to give undergraduate and graduate students alike an opportunity to improve their understanding of business and entrepreneurship in technology-based companies, also maintains a relationship with GEM as a networking association.

Miller said he hopes that within three years, GEM will be established enough to not need to rely on donations and heavy subsidies from the government.

“We have a three-year plan, because many of us have a theory that it takes three years to prove if an idea is good or bad. We all started talking about creating GEM in 2011, so it’s taken three years to get this project to be fully operational, and hopefully in three years, we’ll know if it is successful or not,” Miller said.

According to Doug Lynch, Executive Director of GEM, the company’s location was chosen this past week. The office will be located at 600 Pine Avenue, above ATK Space Systems.

“It’s about 5000 square feet and will have lots of subsidized business space available. It’ll have 24-hour access and is close to Hollister Avenue, so there’s great cuisine nearby,” Lynch said.

Lynch said GEM has started taking applications for new tenants and will host an open house sometime in the middle of February. He added that several businesses that competed in UCSB’s New Venture Competition are considering renting space in the building.


A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Thursday, January 23, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.