Monterey County Business Council
The business council offers an array of resources for entrepreneurs, including an online Business Portal with a “tools for business” section and a funding toolkit. P.O. Box 2746, Monterey, 883-9443, www.mcbc.biz.
Small Business Development Center
The local SBDC, hosted by CSU Monterey Bay and funded through a mix of public and private sources, provides resources on starting up, marketing and financing a new businesses, including topic-specific workshops and help with federally backed SBA loans. 106 Lincoln Ave., Salinas, 422-6232, http://sbdc.csumb.edu.
Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition
Springtime is when business ideas bloom, engaging aspiring entrepreneurs in a friendly bout for the judges’ attentions – think America’s Got Talent for local startups. The event brings entrepreneurs together with local angels, venture capitalists, consultants and support services, with cash prizes for the winners of the student ($1,000), Main Street ($10,000) and venture ($50,000) divisions. 582-3230, www.mbrcompetition.com.
CSUMB Startup Weekend
Monterey Bay’s version of this international movement brings new and aspiring business owners together with seasoned speakers, startup coaches and business-plan competition judges in a weekend of entrepreneurial inspiration. http://csumb.startupweekend.org.
Project 17 Agricultural Innovation Cluster
Named for the highway that connects Silicon Valley with Santa Cruz, the U.S. congressional district represented by Congressman Sam Farr and Pebble Beach’s legendary 17-Mile Drive, Project 17 works to support the local agriculture industry through the development of advanced ag-tech businesses in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. 462-1413,www.project17-montereybay.com.
Steinbeck Innovation Cluster
This city-of-Salinas-supported, industry-led initiative taps a network of partners to mentor young entrepreneurs, encourage agricultural innovation and attract high-tech industrial ventures. In other words, Silicon Valley money for local ag-tech is welcome. http://steinbeckinnovation.org.
The idea is to provide both physical and virtual support for entrepreneurs – a “collaborative community” for freelancers of all professions. Monthly membership fees pay for workspace, Internet, conference rooms, business services and a place to bounce ideas off other creatives. Seven locations include the original space in Santa Cruz (former mayor Ryan Coonerty is one of the cofounders). 101 Cooper Street, Santa Cruz, 420-0710; 97 South 2nd St., San Jose, (408) 351-1575. http://nextspace.us/.
California Coastal Rural Development Corporation
This nonprofit lender helps set up SBA loans, microloans, Monterey County revolving loans and other financing (from $5,000 to $5 million) for small businesses and farmers in under-served communities. 221 Main St., Suite 301, Salinas. 424-1099, www.calcoastal.org.
The Opportunity Fund
Nonprofit lender TOF offers microfinancing, including loans of up to $100,000 to small businesses – particularly low-income and under-represented groups that tend to have less access to capital. It’s now targeting Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, aiming to provide 100 microloans in the area within the next two years. (408) 297-0204, www.opportunityfund.org.
Pacific Community Ventures
Another nonprofit set on expansion into the Monterey Bay Area, PCV aims to match 100 entrepreneurs with advisers and provide microloans to low-income communities in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. (415) 442-4300, www.pacificcommunityventures.org.
Online Networking Services
AngelList connects investors with startups; a quick search of “Monterey” and “Salinas” yields eight young companies. https://angel.co. Startgrid links entrepreneurs with experts like advisors, attorneys and investors. www.startgridnetwork.com. And Score provides small businesses with counseling and mentorship for free. www.score.org.