Jun 11, 2013 12:26 AM by Kathy Kuretich, KSBY News

SLO becoming a magnet for tech companies

It's known for being the "Happiest Place in America, but San Luis Obispo could soon add another distinction -- emerging technology hub.

With its high speed connectivity, a talent pool to pick from at Cal Poly, and a quality of life to offer to employees, tech companies are not only setting up shop, they're thriving.

"We're right in the center of gravity. This is the perfect place for us to be," said Rick Stollmeyer, founder and CEO of MINDBODY.

Headquartered in San Luis Obispo, software development company MINDBODY has grown 50-60% every year for the past six years. Currently, it employs more than 500 people locally and another 100 globally.

It's no secret, that people flock to the area for a little R-and-R, but more and more, it's emerging as the place to be for tech professionals.

MINDBODY is not at all alone. Other high tech companies thriving in San Luis Obispo are Rosetta Marketing, which has plans to double its staff in the next three years; Shopatron, another rapidly growing e-commerce business, which expects to hire 75 people this year; and Etna Interactive, an online marketing company for the medical industry, which doubled in size last year.

Ryan Miller, founder and CEO of Etna Interactive, is a Cal Poly grad. He says San Luis Obispo meets all of the company's needs technically, but also matches its work philosophy.

"We're here in San Luis Obispo, so we're committed to working culturally at Etna, just an 8 hour day," he said. "We come in at 8, we try to leave by 5 so we can enjoy this amazing place."

Although still considered a rural area by many, San Luis Obispo has the online connectivity these high tech companies need to do business. Digital West, also in San Luis Obispo is a big factor in making that possible by their high speed fiber optics and data center.

"Most businesses would have to outsource that or have that information housed in the Bay Area or down in LA, but because we have the high speed connectivity in SLO as well as our data center, most of those companies can stick around," said Tim Williams, Digital West founder and CEO.

All of the companies say they have plans to expand, but plan on keeping a large presence in San Luis Obispo indefinitely.



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