Cal Poly to Expand Innovation & Entrepreneurship Programs in Downtown San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly has announced an expansion to its innovation and entrepreneurship programs in downtown San Luis Obispo, with a new lease for 6,000 square feet of commercial space and apartments for more than 30 business-minded students.

The university has signed a five-year lease (with option for two five-year extensions) for space in the historic Blackstone-Sauer building on Monterey Street, currently being remodeled by Copeland Properties in the Chinatown-Monterey Centre development.

“This housing and additional commercial space will provide talented and focused entrepreneurial students with the opportunity to live and work in a community of thinkers and doers,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “Students from all academic disciplines will live, learn and collaborate to explore and develop their leadership and entrepreneurial interests in an environment that fosters and encourages innovation.”

San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx said, “This is a significant enhancement to Cal Poly’s partnership with the city and local business community. We anticipate that this innovative integration of bright and energetic student minds into our vibrant downtown neighborhood will prove productive for the university and the city as a whole.”

The residential lease is for a 12,600 square-foot space that will be divided into 30 one-bedroom studios and two two-bedroom apartments. These housing spaces are designed for upper-class undergraduates and graduate students associated with Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and will be administered by Cal Poly University Housing.

The commercial lease is a 6,000 square-foot space that the CIE will use to provide additional programming and mentorship for the students living in the university housing.

“The ability to take innovative ideas from mind to market becomes exponential in the right environment,” said CIE Director Tod Nelson. “We will offer programs that work toward developing entrepreneurship and supporting innovation ideas that will ultimately lead to new business opportunities and job growth for both students and community members.”

This new lease augments an already expanded SLO HotHouse program, which recently relocated to a 10,000-square-foot space above the Ross Dress for Less store on Higuera Street in the downtown. With these continuing enhancements, Cal Poly is building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in San Luis Obispo County by providing a unique opportunity for students to own and operate a business locally.

“Our county is providing a unique mix of education, business and government working together to stimulate entrepreneurial activity,” said San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisor Chair Debbie Arnold. “Together we are creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that drives innovation, new business creation and job growth.”

Supervisor Adam Hill, an early and staunch supporter of the CIE and HotHouse added, “The next phase of the CIE and the HotHouse is exciting, and to have serious scholars living and working in downtown San Luis Obispo is a positive development for our community.”

For more information on the SLO HotHouse programs and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, visit