Community Insight: Silicon Valley startup gives lift-off to economy

Zee.Aero is moving into Building 19, shown here, at the Hollister airport.

It is exciting to see that a startup with Silicon Valley fingerprints is making its home in Hollister.
Zee.Aero signed a five-year lease to rent Building 19, formerly the main Hollister airport office, for its work on the personal aircraft on which it gained a patent in August 2013.
The self-proclaimed stealth startup coming from Mountain View is aiming to build a battery-powered personal aircraft with a combination of rotors, like those on a helicopter, and wings. The patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists the aircraft at 15 to 20 feet from front to back and another 15 to 20 feet in wingspan. That patent portrays varying designs with larger and smaller sizes—with one concept showing the aircraft fitting, parked, in a space between two cars.
Airport Director Mike Chambless broached Zee.Aero’s intentions about moving to the Hollister airport back in April 2014 during an airport commission meeting. Since then, he has provided updates about building renovations to airport commissioners. The city did some preparation work, and Zee.Aero has continued renovating the structure, Chambless has reported in recent airport commission meetings.
“They don’t really want to brag about what they do,” he said at the April meeting. “I can tell you it’s an aircraft manufacturing company. They’re bringing about 15 jobs down here and they’re well funded.”
Fifteen jobs is a good number in a county where unemployment has been a significant problem in recent years. It’s also a good start for the startup with “well-funded” moonshot aspirations.
Maybe, just maybe, the landing for Zee.Aero will open the door for other possible, similar businesses or others from other regions that recognize the example of the Mountain View startup.
On a basic level, it is precisely the type of company meant for the industrial park area of the city where economic development leaders have struggled to build on momentum since the six-year building moratorium that ended about six years ago.
Going forward, as with any new businesses interested in making Hollister its home, officials should lay out the welcome mat and do what they can to help it succeed.

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