The site of commercial and industrial space along Hollister Avenue kicked off a tour this week focused on Goleta’s future business growth, in which attendees got glimpses of the city’s assets, opportunities and challenges.

Some 100 community members, including business leaders and some Goleta City Council members, took part in the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s TechTopia Summit event, including a bus tour and panel discussion.

“It’s amazing how many businesses we have doing such incredible things,” said Kristen Miller, chamber president and CEO.

“In the last decade, we have heard more entrepreneurs and investors refer to our lush, laid-back landscape as a utopia, and our vibrant array of science and technology businesses as a technology hub — if you squish those together, someone coined the phrase ‘techtopia.’”

Starting at the Cabrillo Business Park property, the bus tour made its way towards Old Town Goleta, passing properties near the Santa Barbara Airport, the Village at Los Carneros and the Camino Real Marketplace.

More than 40 locations were noted during the narrated tour.

The two Santa Barbara Airbuses rolled by Deckers Brands and FLIR Systems, two companies with buildings at the Cabrillo Business Park. UC Santa Barbara and the U.S. Department of Agriculture also acquired land or occupy space on the 965,000-square-foot business park.

Pacific Beverage, a division of Santa Barbara-based beverage and food distributor Jordano’s, was highlighted in the business park area. The 102,000-square-foot regional distribution center broke ground in 2016, and the company paid $10.6 million for the land on Coromar Drive.

The buses motored in Old Town Goleta, then past the two-story, 152,000-square-foot Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

Old Town Goleta improvement projects were on display, such as the new Old Town park on a vacant 4-acre lot on the corner of Hollister and Kellogg avenues.

The Magnolia Sidewalk Infill Project is underway to replace deteriorating walkways along both sides of Magnolia Avenue from Hollister Avenue south to Gaviota Street, and there is a new high-intensity activated crosswalk signal installed next to the community center.

The Ekwill and Fowler Roads Extension project would install roundabouts at the Pine Avenue intersection with Ekwill Street and the Hollister Avenue and Highway 217 ramp intersections. The California Transportation Commission pushed back construction to begin in 2019 due to a shortfall in gas tax receipts, according to city staff.

Other city projects include potentially installing 42 angled parking spaces on the east side of Magnolia Avenue between Mandarin Drive and the railroad tracks.

One of the tour guides was Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group, who is also a member of the chamber’s board of directors.

He pointed out the City Ventures Old Town Village, a mixed-use project on Kellogg Avenue featuring 175 units to be built on a 12-acre agricultural parcel, west of South Kellogg Avenue and Kellogg Way. The project broke ground in March 2016 and is expected to open by the end of the year.

Near the Fairview and Hollister intersection, construction is underway on a 35,000-square-foot parcel at 151 S. Fairview Ave., which is the new home of America’s Tire.

The store is neighboring Big Brand Tire & Service, a tire and auto service business.

Motorists driving on Hollister Avenue can’t miss Direct Relief’s new 155,000-square-foot, 40-foot tall facility on Santa Barbara Airport property at 6100 Hollister Ave.

Direct Relief is planning to move from its current overflowing facility at 27 S. La Patera Lane in Goleta into the new storage and distribution warehouse in January 2018.

The tour guide hinted that the city of Goleta is in discussions with Direct Relief to possibly buy the warehouse when the nonprofit vacates the property near Goleta’s Amtrak Station.

The Hollister Avenue high-technology corridor was highlighted during the tour. The area is near the corner of Storke and Hollister within proximity to UCSB, the airport and the Camino Real Marketplace.

Other recent project noted include the UCSB housing on Storke Road, the Ice in Paradise skating rink, the 118-room Marriott Residence Inn at 6300 Hollister Ave., the 176-unit Cortona Apartment Complex on a nearly 9-acre vacant, triangular parcel at 6830 Cortona Dr., and the Hilton Garden Inn project at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road.

Also mentioned in western Goleta were the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, and businesses in the 7400 Hollister area, including InTouch Health, LogMeIn and Moog Inc.

The list also included a vacant lot at 7952 Hollister Ave. in western Goleta slated to be the new fire station and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.

After the tour, the group ate lunch in the Rotunda at Deckers Brands and a panel of speakers discussed business challenges in Goleta, and advice.

The panel included Flir Systems’ vice president of operations Rich Antles, M. Special Brewing Co. co-owner and brewmaster Josh Ellis, alongside Tim Wright, vice president/strategy & service line development at InTouch Health, Deckers Brands Chief Operating Officer David Lafitte and Dan Weigel, vice president of people and culture at Apeel Sciences.

The panel noted the lack of affordable workforce housing in the region and lack of public transit options for employees who commute as challenges in Goleta.

“There are challenges, but there are also benefits of being a small business community,” Lafitte said.

Gurbax Sahota, president and CEO of the California Association for Local Economic Development, presented the keynote address and spoke about the organization’s dedication to advancing its members’ ability to retain and create jobs.

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | October 13, 2017 | 8:35 p.m.