July 19, 2024
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2021: The Year In Review


The Dec. 31 print edition of the Pacific Coast Business Times marks our annual Year In Review, featuring the biggest and best stories we published in 2021. Here is a look through our archives at the past year, a year marked by big deals, economic recovery and public health victories, but also by recurring waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent worries about the future. (Most links are subscriber-only.)

Jan. 7, 2021: Flir’s Goleta infrared operation a big target of $8B Teledyne acquisition

The year started with perhaps its biggest deal of all: Thousand Oaks-based technology and defense conglomerate announced an acquisition of Flir Systems, which has one of its biggest business units in Goleta. The price wound up well over $8 billion.

A photo of Flir’s operations in Goleta. (photo courtesy Flir)

Friday, March 12, 2021: A new mourning, as funeral homes faced unwelcome surge in business

The first few months of 2021 were the worst the tri-county region has endured of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, we talked to some of the region’s funeral home directors about what they’d seen and how it had affected them.

April 19, 2021: ‘A flawless flight’ for AeroVironment’s Mars drone

AeroVironment, the Simi Valley-based dronemaker, designed and built the first aircraft to fly on another planet. Its Ingenuity helicopter drone took its first flight on Mars on April 19, as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission.

The Perseverance rover landing on Mars. (photo courtesy NASA)

May 20, 2021: Procore goes public, stock jumps 34%

Procore Technologies, a cloud software company in Carpinteria, had the region’s biggest IPO of 2020, raising around $635 million in its May 20 offering.

May 21, 2021: Lots of help wanted in restaurants, other industries

The past year was marked by major disruptions in labor markets, with wages climbing, workers resigning in growing numbers, and unemployment rates shrinking. In May, we took a closer look at these issues in the restaurant industry, one of the sectors hit hardest by shortages of workers.

Patrick Kelly and Zak Koplen in the kitchen of Lucky Penny restaurant in Santa Barbara. Like many restaurants, Lucky Penny has seen a shortage of workers and is offering cash incentives for referrals and new hires. (Eric Isaacs photo)

May 25, 2021: Feds, state reach agreement for Morro Bay offshore wind project

San Luis Obispo County is shaping up as one of the capitals of the U.S. green power industry for the 21st century. In May, state and federal officials announced a plan to open up the Morro Bay waters for as much as 3 gigawatts of wind power.

May 28, 2021: Public health meets private sector with Charity Dean’s new venture

Dr. Charity Dean, a former Santa Barbara County public health officer, was one of a handful of people in the United States who could see what was on the horizon in early 2020, when she was a public health official in Sacramento. In 2021, she returned to Santa Barbara and founded The Public Health Company, a new venture that we profiled in May.

Dr. Charity Dean in 2016, when she was Santa Barbara County’s physician health officer. (file photo)

June 17, 2021: Home prices skyrocket in region

The Tri-Counties has been an expensive place to live for decades but home prices really took off in 2020 and 2021, with year-to-year appreciation of more than 20% in many of the region’s cities.

June 28, 2021: Thoma Bravo deepens investment in region with $2B acquisition of QAD

QAD, the Santa Barbara-based cloud software company for the manufacturing industry, left the ranks of the region’s publicly traded companies in 2021 when it was taken private in a $2 billion buyout by Thoma Bravo.

QAD headquarters in Santa Barbara

July 23, 2021: Deal for new Santa Paula Hospital land ‘a long time in the making’

In July, Limoneira and the county of Ventura teamed up on a plan to bring Santa Paula a new public hospital: Limoneira will sell 25 acres of former farmland to a company that will lease it to the county for a hospital.

Aug. 4, 2021: Houweling’s Tomatoes will become state’s biggest cannabis greenhouse

Houweling’s Tomatoes, the region’s biggest indoor grower of tomatoes and cucumbers, sold its massive Camarillo property in 2021 for around $100 million to Glass House Group, which is converting the greenhouses to grow cannabis.

Sept. 3, 2021: Ventura’s building boom: City has more than 2,200 housing units in the works

Housing is in short supply in much of the region, and in 2021 the city of Ventura started to seriously expand its housing stock —  in September, the city had more than 2,200 units either in construction or approved to be built.

The Mar-Y-Cel development, on the corner of Ventura Avenue and Thompson Boulevard, is the biggest in a number of apartment and condominium projects coming to Ventura. (Tony Biasotti photo)

Sept. 21, 2021: U.S. Bank’s $8B deal to buy Union Bank could make it region’s biggest banking company

Union Bank’s purchase of U.S. Bank was a major shakeup in the national banking industry, with aftershocks felt in the Tri-Counties, where the post-merger Union Bank could become the region’s biggest banking company.

Sept. 30, 2021: Olaplex shares jump 17% after $1.6B IPO

Olaplex, a hair care products company founded in Santa Barbara, went public in September and saw its shares shoot up 17% on its first day of trading.

Olaplex employees celebrate the company’s IPO at the Nasdaq stock exchange on Sept. 30. (Nasdaq courtesy photo)

Oct. 29, 2021: Women’s share of region’s corporate board seats has doubled since 2018

Since 2018, the Business Times has periodically investigated the gender diversity of the boards of the publicly traded companies based in our region. In 2021, we found that 34% of the board seats were occupied by women, about double the percentage from three years earlier.

Nov. 2, 2021: UCSB says it’s sticking with Munger’s mega-dorm

One of the tri-county stories to really gain traction in the national news in 2021 was UC Santa Barbara’s plan to build a giant, mostly windowless dorm designed by billionaire Charlie Munger.

Dec. 1, 2021: Thousand Oaks approves Caruso apartment complex at The Lakes

Rick Caruso, the billionaire real estate developer, has never gotten the return he wanted out of The Lakes in Thousand Oaks, and in late 2021 he got permission from the City Council to build apartments on the property. The city also agreed to sell the property to Caruso, who had been leasing it since he built the shopping center in 2005.

An artist’s rendering of The Lakes shopping center with the six-story apartment building behind it that developer Rick Caruso plans to build.