Uplift Central Coast

Planning a future of economic resilience for the Central Coast

A six-county partnership working to attract investment and expand opportunity for Central Coast residents

Spanning Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Uplift Central Coast partnership came together under the federal Build Back Better Challenge in 2021 with a multi-faceted initiative to cultivate the Central Coast’s space + aeronautics ecosystem. 

Led by three economic development organizations — the Economic Development Collaborative, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and REACH — Uplift is widening and deepening its collaborative efforts under California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund, a promising new opportunity to bring resources to the region.

multi colored map of the 6-county uplift region
Thank you to those who partnered and collaborated with us as we crafted our application for the Community Economic Resilience Fund.


 We greatly value the time, input and feedback given in the development of our vision and goals for the future of the 6-county Central Coast region. Below you will find links to the application’s executive summary and the list of support letters from organizations representing more than dozen different community sectors and perspectives.




economic development organizations


letters of support


A quick look at the regional grant opportunity

What’s CERF?

California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund — CERF for short — is a $600 million program created to catalyze planning and action to realize an equitable and sustainable economy across the state’s diverse regions and develop industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all Californians.

Our six-county region was identified as one of 13 regions eligible for a $5 million planning grant, with potential to compete for a larger implementation investment. The planning grants are intended to create an inclusive economic development process with a focus on equity, sustainability, job quality, economic competitiveness and resilience.

Go to state overview.

Read CA FWD’s Guide to Regional Inclusive Economic Development

Who’s involved?

Led by REACH, MBEP and EDC, the Uplift partnership assembled a collaborative regional coalition that reflects the diversity of the Central Coast to work together to build a more inclusive economy.

REACH is serving as the regional convener, facilitating meetings and organizing an inclusive group of stakeholders. EDC is serving as the fiscal agent, responsible for grant management. 

What's the project timeline?

July 25, 2022 | Deadline for Uplift to submit planning grant application

Leading up to the due date, Uplift worked to mobilize a diverse Central Coast ecosystem of stakeholders, developed a vision and goals, and crafted an inclusive outreach and engagement plan and process. On October 20th, 2022, the Uplift Coalition was awarded the grant.

2023-2024 | Phase 1: Planning 

Uplift is now entering a 18-24 month planning phase. This involves: building out theCentral Coast ecosystem to include additional voices and perspectives; implementing an inclusive outreach and engagement plan; and developing a regional plan with collaborative partnerships.

Beyond | Phase 2: Programs and Projects 

Going forward, Uplift will work to advance and implement projects and programs resulting from the inclusive regional planning efforts. The state has set aside $500 million, though the planning phase is also intended as a catalyst to compete for a range of other federal, philanthropic and state funding.

What's the difference between CERF and CEDS?

Many regions have what’s called a CEDS: a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. REACH is in the process of developing a CEDS for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, with REACH 2030 designated as the region’s temporary CEDS.

In short: Similar names, different programs. Here’s a chart to help keep them straight.

Program origin
State government Federal government
Grant administrator
GO-Biz, Office of Planning and Research, Labor Department Economic Development Administration
Project applicant
Uplift Coalition REACH
Community matching funds?
No SLO County, Santa Barbara County, Bank of America
6-county region defined by the state (Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, SLO, Santa Barbara, Ventura) 2-county region defined by REACH (SLO, Santa Barbara)
Application due July 25; Program runs Oct 2022 – Sept 2024 Current – Fall 2023
To be competitive for $500M in CERF implementation funds and beyond To be competitive for federal investment

Learn more about the CEDS project

How did the Uplift Central Coast partnership begin?

Uplift Central Coast was first established to collaboratively submit a $70 million grant application under the Biden Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge in 2021. The partnership also united over the National Science Foundation Type 1 Regional Innovation Engines Program to submit a formal planning proposal for a Central Coast Space and Aeronautics Innovation Corridor. You can read about that work here.