On February 25, Mayor Kevin Faulconer stopped by Underground Elephant’s new office at TR Produce to have a casual, informative conversation with over 100 of our employees. The topics covered were many, but the take-home message was that our Mayor values entrepreneurship, innovation, and community-centric companies such as UE.
This special all-hands event for the Mayor was the first in UE’s new office–a testament to the relationship we have built with him over the last two years (see: Google Fiber and Make Change Count). Also, were it not for the foresight of the City and Civic San Diego, we would never have been able to secure our new office at the historic TR Produce building in the first place (see: Conditional-Use Permit).
So, with construction still underway, the Mayor and I pulled up a couple chairs and had a chat with the UE team. The topics discussed were many, including public transportation and commuting solutions, improved roads, boosting the supply of affordable housing, providing long-term solutions to homelessness, supporting our veterans, retaining San Diego’s college graduates, accelerating the economy through innovation (in the private sector as well as within his administration), and addressing climate change head on with San Diego’s ambitious Climate Action Plan.
At the close of our lunchtime meeting, the Mayor thanked our CEO Jason Kulpa, myself, and the rest of the company, highlighting the importance of tech companies like Underground Elephant as San Diego continues to accelerate the growth of Downtown’s innovation ecosystem. We told the Mayor he will have full access to our new, creative office space when it opens later this year: he can use our conference rooms, host tours and special delegations to shine a light on tech scene in Downtown San Diego, or just pull up a stool and share a draft beer or cold-brewed coffee from one of the taps at our in-house bar after a long day.
This sounds funny, but UE also presented the Mayor with a jar of dirt from our new space. Our first office was in Mission Valley in 2008, then we moved to the Simon Levi building above Bub’s on the 700 block of J Street, then to our current office at 600 B Street. However, as we prepare to move to TR Produce at 808 J Street, that jar of dirt served as a reminder to our team that we would Return to J Street with a lot of momentum–and now we hope the Mayor and his team know they have played a big part in our ongoing evolution.
As a representative of a community-focused technology company, I often brag about the entrepreneurial spirit of our City’s administration. It’s all thanks to civic leaders like Mayor Faulconer and David Graham (Deputy COO), who are driving the rare attribute of innovation in local governance. Thanks again to Mayor Faulconer and his team for stopping by, and keep up the great work!