By Mark Sayre

SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — To most of the outside world, Santa Cruz is known for the wide open ocean, its beaches, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. A few blocks from shore, a vibrant and growing tech community exists.

“There is a huge amount of tech talent here,” said Andrew Mueller, who runs a tech company. He is organizing a weekend-long startup blitz to help strengthen the local tech community.

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“In that it brings people together to get them out of the talking phase of things they want to do, into this doing phase of starting to do that.” Mueller told KPIX 5.

“We analyze cancer genomes” said Steve Benz, co-founder of Five3 Genomics. His company is a 3-year-old Santa Cruz startup which employs 10 people.

Benz said the tech talent in Santa Cruz is already strong.

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“There’s lots of small startups that are raising big money from VC’s. Great companies are growing out of here all the time,” he said.

But Benz admits the community does have somewhat of a perception problem.

“People think that people just want to live here to go hang out at the beach and have fun. And you know we are just as serious here as we are over in the Valley,” he said.

For city leaders, keeping and growing tech is a top priority. When people leave town for jobs in Silicon Valley it not only takes a toll on employees with long commutes. The city also loses important things — like restaurant business, tax revenue, and even a sense of community.

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Mayor Lynn Robinson told KPIX 5, “So we have really been doing everything that we can to ramp up our presence and doing anything we can to help them with their new businesses, we have a lot of programs that can help.”