Small business tours start in Carlsbad Village

U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy states, “There are 33.3 million small businesses across the country, employing more than 61.6 million people, as of 2023; 89% have fewer than 20 employees.” 

The City of Carlsbad has launched a series of business tours to help understand the needs of businesses and work to support a thriving economy. Last month, the Carlsbad Village Association (CVA) partnered with the Innovation & Economic Development Department to kick off this series with a two-and-a-half-hour tour of small businesses in the Village. Mayor Keith Blackburn and Councilmember Melanie Burkholder were joined by David Graham who leads the department as the Chief Innovation Officer and Matt Sanford the Economic Development Manager. February’s visit, the first of many to come, was designed to bring to light both the successes and the challenges of four businesses that CVA chose to help illustrate a variety of business models.

“Carlsbad is not just business-friendly; we are business-forward,” David explained. “Meeting with our local companies in-person helps us anticipate needs and work proactively to support the small business engine of our economy.”

Bryan Tracey, owner of Status Skateshop, shared his business vision and the path he took to get there with members of the City of Carlsbad, Carlsbad Village Association, and Councilmember Melanie Burkholder.

Miriah LeClerc, owner of Revolution Roasters, shared her professional journey and desire for a community-focused business at The Cottages in Carlsbad. Open just half a year, and not yet having experienced a summer downtown when foot traffic increases with out-of-town visitors, she said she is heartened by how quickly her coffee house was embraced by the community and is optimistic about the future. However, work force attraction and retention are a concern for Miriah. With her first location in Oceanside, now 10 years old, she can share some staffing between the two businesses, but finding people with the skills and availability needed, who want to grow with her business, will remain a challenge.

Bryan Tracey, owner of Status Skateshop, shared his business vision and the path he took to get where he is. He also shared some of the difficulties he has had regarding building signage and an interpretation of accepted uses within the Village and Barrio Master Plan for desired expansion.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect with the business visit and was pleasantly surprised by what appeared to be completely earnest interest, curiosity and support,” said Bryan. “I am so glad we were able to be a part of it.”

Chris Slowey, co-owner of Shoots Fish & Beer, shared his positive experience with the permitting and build-out process for The Cottages, and Carrie Moore, owner of Trove Marketplace, discussed the need for employee and/or short-term parking to help increase parking turnover downtown.

“As we walked from a craft coffee house that makes everything from scratch to a hangout for world-class surfers, to an international hub for skateboarders, I felt a deep connection with these business owners,” Councilmember Burkholder said. “Every day they are contributing, not just to our dynamic economy, but to the Carlsbad community. As a small business owner, I have an affinity for the people behind the businesses who are driving our economy, and I want to say thank you for your dedication.”

The city has strategically placed their support as one of the four key pillars of the city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, which is just now starting the second year of its five-year plan. Part of the plan includes providing additional resources to small businesses through the city’s Job-Readiness Room, the cybersecurity awareness program, Life in Action, Innovate 78, and other support programs.

CVA was honored to help kick off the small business tours in downtown Carlsbad. Due to the desire of both city staff and council to meet and learn from more small businesses, a second tour is already on the calendar this month, and more are planned throughout the city.