Stories for April 2011

Friday, April 29

Gen-Probe Posts Earnings; Sale Rumored

Gen-Probe Inc., a San Diego maker of blood screening and other clinical diagnostic kits, reported first quarter net income of $23.3 million, down 4 percent from the like quarter of 2010.

Thursday, April 28

Region’s Economic Prospects Continue on a Slow Climb

San Diego’s economic prospects continue to improve, however, in baby steps. The latest economic index from the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate rose 1 percent in March.

Wednesday, April 27

First PacTrust Releases First Quarter Results

First PacTrust Bancorp, parent of Chula Vista-based Pacific Trust Bank, reported first quarter net income of $693,000 compared with net income of $625,000 for the like quarter of 2010.

Developers Get Financing for Mission Valley Apartments

Developers have secured $59.5 million in loans for Circa 37, a 306-unit apartment complex planned as the first phase of Sudberry Properties’ Civita mixed-used development in San Diego’s Mission Valley.

Tuesday, April 26

Stock Exchange Puts Office REIT on Notice

San Diego-based Pacific Office Properties Trust Inc., a real estate investment trust, announced April 25 that it has received notice from the New York Stock Exchange Amex that it is not in compliance with the stock exchange’s continued listing standards.

Monday, April 25

Solera to Acquire Explore Information Services

Solera Holdings Inc., a San Diego provider of software to the auto insurance claims industry, said April 25 it agreed to purchase Explore Information Services LLC, a provider of database insurance technologies, in an all cash transaction valued at about $520 million.

No Reservations About Carlsbad

HOSPITALITY: Hotels See Upscale Beach Community As Good Place to Develop

After nearly 30 years spent developing hotels, Bill Canepa says he’s learned to take nothing for granted — even after hearing earlier this year that his company had received a $60 million construction loan to build a new oceanfront resort in Carlsbad, a rarity in this economy.

Firm Readies for Blockbuster Status

PHARMACEUTICALS: CEO Says Apricus Bio Drug Could Generate $1B in Annual Sales

Apricus Bio is still working on getting its name known — locally and in the greater investment community.

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Defense Dollars Power Local Businesses

DEFENSE: Companies Collaborating With Military Means Billions for Economy

The stew of diverse talent in San Diego County has nurtured companies such as Pixon Imaging Inc., a tiny business that has put its image-clarifying tools to work for several military users.

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Hiring Temps Might Lead to Permanent Fixes

LABOR: Staffing Agencies Placing More Workers at San Diego Companies

One sign that San Diego’s jobs picture may be improving — an uptick in hiring temporary workers — is evident in the employment report delivered this month.

Credit Union CEO Takes Care Of More Than Just Business

Cutler Dawson, the chief executive for Navy Federal Credit Union, likes to travel and get out from his organization’s headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area.

Entrepreneurs Use Russian Model for Office Supply Biz

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! Keen Office Products, a new San Diego office supplies startup taking on the likes of Staples and Office Depot, is targeting small businesses with 10 to 250 workers.

Apps Are Agents of Change in Real Estate Arena

TECHNOLOGY: Growth In Smart Phone Use Helps Fuel Industry Innovations

As a noted futurist, entrepreneur and business consultant, San Diego resident Daniel Burrus was looking to practice what he has been predicting in his best-selling books including “Technotrends” and his most recent, “Flash Foresight.”

Sandag Pursues Purchase of Beleaguered Toll Road

TRANSPORTATION: EDC Cautiously Supports Public Agency Ownership

The South Bay Expressway, San Diego’s only toll road, may not be in high demand by motorists, but San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency, wants to buy it.

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Cities of the Future Will Be Shaped By the Aerotropolis

TRANSPORTATION: Gillespie Field Is Ripe to Develop as Business Hub

Just as U.S. cities during the past 200 years grew up around water and rail routes, then interstate highways, the metropolises of the future will be built around airport hubs.

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REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP-SD

Pacific Ridge School has reached a milestone in its plans for campus expansion: the groundbreaking on its athletic center.

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Qualcomm Hits Revenue High Of $3.8B in Q2

Qualcomm Inc. reported record revenue of $3.88 billion and net profit of just under $1 billion for its fiscal 2011 second quarter ended March 27.

Military Deals Produce Plenty of Dough for South County Bakery

HOSPITALITY: S & S Also Delivers Baked Goods to Eateries, Hotels, Grocers

The Fadicks, owners of S & S Bakery in Otay Mesa, took a backward route into the bakery business 17 years ago. Since then, the family has made plenty of forward progress.

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Company Knows How to Make It in a Very Competitive World

TECHNOLOGY: Firm Helps Customers Move Ideas to Manufacturing

When Argos Therapeutics Inc. sought out a manufacturing consultant to come up with an automated cell therapy machine for treating cancer, HIV and other diseases, the North Carolina company turned to the San Diego office of Invetech Inc.

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Homebuyers’ Fear of Commitment Affects Market

REAL ESTATE: Rate of Foreclosures Declines, But Distressed Sales Still High

San Diego’s housing market continues to seek some kind of equilibrium but as buyers remain cautious, there’s signs the bottom has yet to be reached.

Ace Parking Extends Its Empire Across the States

TRANSPORTATION: Big Deals Expand $370M Family-Owned Business

San Diego’s Ace Parking Management Inc., ranked among the largest privately owned parking management companies in the U.S., is evidently not content to remain parked in neutral.

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Information Technology Executive of the Month: Steve Phillpott

Steve Phillpott, an IT executive in San Diego for over 20 years, is the chief information officer for Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. Amylin is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to improving lives of patients through the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative medicines.

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Waterfront Project Starting to Make Its Way Through Rough Seas

After years of discussion, revision and legal challenges, it appears that the first phase of downtown San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront project is finally a go.

Health Agency Delivers Decades of Vital Care to the Community

One of the jewels of North County is celebrating 40 years of service to the community this year. North County Health Services is a mainstay of health care services for a diverse section of the region’s population.

Heart & Soul Gala Provides for 50 Programs

The Jewish Family Service of San Diego held its annual spring Heart & Soul Gala on March 12 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine.

Sales Tax Legislation Can Only Address Some of Retail Changes

In a world where “bricks and mortar” retail stores are fast losing ground to Internet-based sales, why is it that the state of California, as well as most other states, is not capturing sales taxes on these transactions?

Construction Veterans’ Latest Creation Is Building KirE Business

STARTUP: Cost-Efficient Plan Includes Taking on Unfinished Developments

Ken Baumgartner’s most daunting project of the moment is building and growing a whole new home-construction and development company from the ground up.

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EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Mark Read

Mark Read serves as the senior managing director for CB Richard Ellis’ San Diego region, a leadership role he has held since 1998.

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Landscape Architects’ ‘Environmental Impact’ Is a Thing of Beauty to See

DESIGN: Ingenuity and Imagination Are Part of The Tools of Their Trade

Local commercial landscape architects are creating and designing some magnificent outdoor spaces

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REGIONAL REPORT

Fitch Ratings affirmed a AA- credit rating on the city’s $115 million in certificates of participation, a type of bond

Friday, April 22

Income Ticks Up at Security Business Bank

Security Business Bank of San Diego reported first quarter net income of $117,000, up 28.5 percent from the $91,000 profit it made in the like quarter of 2010.

Wednesday, April 20

Local Architectural Firms Merge

San Diego-based Graham Downes Architecture and Architectural Concepts Inc. have merged, and are now operating under the name Graham Downes Architecture.

Tuesday, April 19

Community Gets a Say on Horton Plaza Renovation

Residents and business leaders can help shape the vision for a new public square planned at Horton Plaza, during an open house set for April 21.

Monday, April 18

CoDa Raises $19.2 Million in Series B Financing Round

CoDa Therapeutics Inc., a San Diego biotech working on new therapies to speed healing for wounded patients, said April 18 that it raised $19.2 million in a Series B financing round, and possibly more investments from additional investors in the future.

Business Journal to Launch Web Site Pay Wall

MEDIA: Redesigned Home Page to Be Part of Changes Set for April 20

In an effort to give paid subscribers more value and to more effectively manage its online content, the San Diego Business Journal is launching a pay wall on its Web site, sdbj.com.

$210M Pfizer Deal Validates Small Firm

BIOTECH: Big Pharma Sees Vast Potential in Zacharon’s Method of Treating Diseases

Robin Jackman, Zacharon’s president and CEO, is the first to admit that there aren’t too many people outside the biotech world who understand the science at the core of his small company.

TIG Rides the Waves of Change

TECHNOLOGY: IT Services Provider Helps Customers Stay Abreast of Innovations

When San Francisco-based IT consulting firm FusionStorm tried to improperly snare clients and employees from San Diego-based Technology Integration Group’s office in Tampa, Bruce Geier took action.

$7B Flow of Venture Investments Eases Prolonged Dry Spell

FINANCE: Climate Still Challenging for Funds, Startups Seeking Money

Everyone talks about all the cash sitting on the sidelines, but a big chunk of money got off the bench and got into the game in the first quarter.

Firm’s Modules Can Adapt to Change Without Skipping a Beat

TECHNOLOGY: Congatec Knows Customers’ Needs In Ever-Changing World

It’s not often that you run across a business named after the foot-stomping, hip-gyrating lyrics in a hit song.

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National City Car Dealerships Go the Extra Mile to Drive Sales

TRANSPORTATION: Good Location, Teamwork Are Reasons for Success

For several generations, the name “Mile of Cars” has been closely identified with the South County community of National City.

Nonprofit Profile: Jeanne McAlister

As the CEO and founder of the McAlister Institute for Treatment and Education Inc., Jeanne McAlister continues to be a pioneer in effective drug and alcohol addiction recovery services.

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CEO: Pay Hike Draws Recently Hired Executive to Other Bank

The competition for top banking talent is fierce these days.

Executive Profile: Robert Kevane

Robert F. Kevane, CPA, practices as a tax and business adviser and is president of The Kevane Company Inc.

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Celebrity’s Work Helping Animals Is Honored By Petco Foundation

Ellen DeGeneres will receive the Petco Foundation’s inaugural HOPE Award, which celebrates the spirit of hope through a life dedicated to promoting the human-animal bond.

Employment Eligibility Compliance Is Crucial

If your company — no matter how big or small — is employing undocumented immigrants, your chances of facing costly fines, or even jail time, are increasing significantly.

It Pays for Exporters to Learn About Tax Program

It has now been one year since President Obama announced plans to double U.S. exports by 2015.

Thinking Outside the Border

TRAVEL: Construction Companies to Work on Cross-Border Terminal

San Diego-based DPR Construction and Hazard Construction Co. have been tapped to complete construction on a planned $78 million cross-border terminal, including a passenger bridge linking Otay Mesa with the Tijuana airport.

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Women With Financial Savvy Take on Solid Leadership Roles

WORK FORCE: Three Professionals Excel at Money Management

Financial services recruiter Judy Thompson has seen women’s roles in the financial professions change dramatically since she began her career.

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Momentum Builds for Stalled Millenia Project

CONSTRUCTION: New Partnership Revives McMillin’s Viable Venture

The Corky McMillin Cos.’ Millenia project, a 3,000-home mixed-use project on 210 acres of land tucked up against the state Route 125 toll road in Chula Vista, has everything going for it. It’s green, it has affordable housing, it will prompt the creation of more open space than the planned construction, it’s designed to add jobs to the neighborhood and it’s fully entitled.

Improving Employment Picture Is Boost for the Office Market

REAL ESTATE: Tenants Still Have Upper Hand, But That Could Change

An improved employment picture in 2011’s first quarter helped stabilize San Diego County’s office market, as vacancy rates continued a gradual drop amid five consecutive quarters of positive space absorption.

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Taking Account of a Changing World

FINANCE: New Torrey Pines Bank Unit Focuses on Businesswomen’s Needs

Reflecting a trend of women having more clout in the business world, a local bank established a new unit that focuses on female customers.

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Top Banks Get Wise to Using Smart Phones for Check Deposits

FINANCE: Mitek Is Brains Behind Mobile Banking Technology

Mitek Systems Inc. wants to end the drudgery of driving to the neighborhood ATM to deposit those irksome paper checks.

Executive Profile: Bruce Mills

L. Bruce Mills Jr. is the president and chief operating officer of San Diego Private Bank, a community bank with headquarters in La Jolla.

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Sempra Makes Pact to Supply Wind Energy

Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, said April 7 that it has inked a 20-year contract to sell 21 megawatts of wind energy to Maui Electric Co. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities around San Diego County

Real Estate Roundup

Projects, developments and other activity in cities in and around San Diego County

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Industrial Market Turns a Corner As Vacancy Rates Take a Dip

REAL ESTATE: Leasing Activity Leaps Forward; Large Buildings Purchased

San Diego County’s industrial property market has started out 2011 with fundamentals trending upward with an improving economy.

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Souplantation’s Balloon Artists Pump Up Fun

Rancho Bernardo’s Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. has come up with a twist on keeping customers entertained at its Souplantation restaurants in Clairemont Mesa, La Mesa and Point Loma. The chain has hired “balloon artists” to entertain the crowds while they are dining.

Friday, April 15

LM Capital Group Purchases 35 Percent of Its Equity From Joint Venture

LM Capital Group LLC, a San Diego institutional bond investment manager, said April 14 it purchased 35 percent of its equity from a joint venture for an undisclosed price.

San Diego’s Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly in March

San Diego’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in March from a revised 10.1 percent

Tax Change Takes a Big Burden off Businesses

It’s nice to see government correct a mistake.

Vibra Bank Reports First Quarter Net Income of $135,000

Vibra Bank, based in Chula Vista and with a single office, reported first quarter net income of $135,000, compared with a net loss of $274,000 for the like quarter of 2010.

Thursday, April 14

Coastal Commission Approves First Phase of Embarcadero Work

The California Coastal Commission has approved first-phase plans for the long-discussed renovation of San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront district. San Diego port district officials said construction on the nearly $30 million first phase is expected to get under way by year’s end.

Wednesday, April 13

Roel Construction Announces Name Change to Suffolk-Roel

San Diego-based Roel Construction Co. announced April 13 that its name has been changed to Suffolk-Roel, following the January acquisition of the company by Boston-based Suffolk Construction Co. Inc.

Conatus Pharmaceuticals Receives $7.5M in Follow-On Investment

Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego biotech firm researching treatment of liver disease and cancer, said April 12 it obtained $7.5 million in a follow-on investment by MPM Capital of south San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 12

San Diego Trust Bank Posts 26th Consecutive Quarterly Profit

San Diego Trust Bank reported April 11 net income for the first quarter of $302,000, up 66 percent from the like quarter of 2010 and the bank’s 26th consecutive quarterly profit.

Monday, April 11

Historic downtown building part of $196M acquisition

Kearny Real Estate Co. of Los Angeles, which has a San Diego office, has acquired a $196 million portfolio of property loans in a partnership with Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.

Defining the New Normal Relative to Real Estate

As The Economist put it recently, the phrase “new normal” is usually used to explain the persistence of underwhelming economic data.

Companies Look to Make Most of Coast

PLANNING: $32M Hotel, $15M Retail Center Among Upgrades in Imperial Beach

After years of economic setbacks, the City of Imperial Beach is making progress on projects that it hopes will someday help it snag visitors away from glitzier San Diego beach communities to the north.

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Northrop Grumman Receives Contract For Drone Support

Northrop Grumman’s San Diego operation received a $247 million U.S. Air Force contract to provide logistics for its Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, according to an April 4 announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense.

ViaCyte Takes Kyoto Laureate’s Work to Next Level

INNOVATION: Partners Move Stem Cell Research To Diabetes Treatment Lab

A San Diego company that is working to bring to market a treatment for diabetes derived from embryonic stem cells is also working with Kyoto Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka

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After Shedding 10 Properties, Sunstone Back in Buying Mode

After forfeiting 10 hotels in the past two years, including four in San Diego, Sunstone Hotel Investors of Aliso Viejo is doing some high-end shopping in 2011.

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Cluster’s Founding Father Leads Firm

BIOTECH: Biocept Names

David F. Hale, considered by many to be a founding father of San Diego’s mighty biotechnology cluster, has taken the helm at Biocept, a cancer-focused diagnostic and laboratory services company that’s getting ready to launch its first product in July.

PRODUCTS OF OUR ENVIRONMENT

MARKETING: Region’s Famous Brands Include Zoo, WD-40, Hotel Del

Rubio’s Inc., the Carlsbad eatery chain, may now be owned by a private equity firm in Connecticut.

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A Look at the Numbers Shows the Changes in the North County

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2011, the government has released the 2010 year-end data. The two key items for North County are the population growth and sales tax revenue increases, both are up substantially.

New Laundry Service Is Cleaning Up

HIGH-TECH: Energy-Saving System Helps Emerald Win Lucrative Hospital Contracts

Since it opened for business in September, Emerald Textiles, an Otay Mesa industrial laundry, has been winning.

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Funding Helps ecoATM Answer The Electronics Recycling Call

TECHNOLOGY: Firm Expects to Have 5,000 Kiosks Operating by 2013

Cell phone recycling is about to become more common following an infusion of $14.4 million in venture financing into San Diego-based ecoATM.

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Self-Correcting Golf Ball Is a Game Changer for Recreational Players

SPORTS BIZ: Design Helps Golfers Overcome Hooks, Slices on Drives

The word on the course is out; the self-correcting golf ball is in.

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Operations Center Buildings Earn LEED Gold Certification

The two 150,000-square-foot office buildings recently completed in the first phase of the County Operations Center and Annex redevelopment in Kearny Mesa have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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For Some Builders, Smaller, Lower Priced Homes Are Better

CONSTRUCTION: With Little Inventory Available, New Home Sales May Rise

Residential builders may be down, but they’re not out of the development game. Some of the survivors are building smaller or fewer homes, while others are regrouping with niche products or rental properties.

Fan’s Old Stub Proves to Be the Winning Ticket

He’s got just the ticket!

Ligand to Achieve Profitability for 1st Time, Chief Says

BIOTECH: Drug to Increase Muscle Mass May Lead to $100M Deal

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. is on track for its first profitable year, said Rob McKay, the biotech’s senior director of business development.

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Markets Tailored to Tastes of Hispanics Expand

RETAIL: Grocers Take Advantage of Supply Of Vacant Retail Space

Fast-growing California supermarkets catering to the Hispanic community

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Fishery Catches on to Need to Cultivate Coveted Bluefin Tuna

AQUACULTURE: U.S. Market Is Next Frontier For Japanese Delicacy

Tuna lovers talk about the wonderfulness of yellowtail and albacore, but in Japan, nothing beats bluefin.

Local Office Market Receives a Vote of Confidence

REAL ESTATE: State, Federal Cuts Won’t Derail Its Recovery

As federal and state lawmakers dispute about how to cut budgets, local landlords and brokers say they’re not immediately concerned that government downsizing moves will adversely impact demand for commercial office space in San Diego County.

Executive Profile: Paul Barnes

Paul Barnes serves as division president for Shea Homes San Diego.

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Group’s Fierce Fundraising Efforts Bring Help to Cancer Fight

AMN Healthcare is sponsoring the 2011 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Awards Ceremony which was to be held Apr. 7.

Real Estate Roundup

Projects, developments and other activity in cities in and around San Diego County

Regional Report

Tierra Data Inc., a provider of natural resources planning, surveys and management, was awarded a contract worth up to $10 million by the U.S. Navy, the company announced last month.

Executive Profile Jeff Graham

Jeff Graham is the vice president of redevelopment of the Centre City Development Corp.

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With Future of Enterprise Zones in Doubt, Firm May Pack Up, Go

WORK FORCE: Jensen Meat Weighs Out-of-State Options, Delays Expansion

Sacramento’s battle with cities and counties about the future of so-called enterprise zones — special districts that benefit business with tax credits and related breaks — has hit home.

Challenging Projects Are Creative Outlet for Astro Energy’s Talents

CONSERVATION: Firm Specializes in Improving Clients’ Energy Efficiency

When Imperial Valley’s El Centro Regional Medical Center needed to replace its data center heavily damaged by the April 4, 2010, Mexicali earthquake, newly established Astro Energy Group, won the bidding

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Road Operators Seek Buyer To Rescue It From Bankruptcy

TRANSPORTATION: Court Hearing Set This Week for Expressway

Operators of the financially troubled South Bay Expressway L.P. are optimistic that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego soon will approve their plan for emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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Developers Set Their Sights On Reconstructing Business

CONSTRUCTION: Builders Caught in Changing Market Shift to Small, Infill Projects

There have been a host of challenges for San Diego County’s residential real estate developers since the housing market peaked in 2005

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Friday, April 8

SBA Postpones Jobs Act Presentation

The pending shutdown of the federal government claimed a victim April 8 with the announcement by the U.S. Small Business Administration that a planned one-day outreach seminar to small businesses seeking capital set for April 11 was postponed “due to a possible lapse in government funding.”

Thursday, April 7

Westin Gaslamp Hotel Sold for $110M

Maryland-based Pebblebrook Hotel Trust has acquired the 450-room Westin Gaslamp Quarter hotel for $110 million, in an all-cash transaction.

CareFusion Makes $20M Purchase

CareFusion Corp., a San Diego-based medical supply firm, said it acquired Vestara, an Irvine business that segregates and tracks pharmaceutical waste for $20 million.

Wednesday, April 6

SAIC Gets on Short List for Information Technology Work

SAIC Inc. said April 6 that it was awarded a prime contract from the U.S. Department of Justice for a full range of information technology services in support of numerous federal agencies.

Tuesday, April 5

SeaWorld Unveils New Conservation Programs

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and the local chapter of the National Audubon Society Inc. have formed a partnership to create more than 25,000 square feet of wildlife habitat along Mission Bay.

Padres Maintain Their Fan-Affordability Streak

San Diego Padres fans cheered on their team at the April 5 home opening game against the San Francisco Giants as well as the team’s ticket and concession prices, ranked second cheapest in all of baseball.

Monday, April 4

Chase Plans 10 More San Diego Branches

New York-based Chase Bank said April 4 it plans to open about 100 new branches and add more than 1,500 jobs nationally, including 65 branches in Southern California to better serve its customers.

Costco Expanding in Two South County Locations

RETAIL: Distribution, Packaging Hub Compatible With Area’s Food Cluster

Costco Wholesale Corp., the world’s third largest retailer, is expanding two of its San Diego area operations, opening a new packaging facility and distribution center in Otay Mesa, and expanding an optical laboratory in National City.

Women’s Group to Recognize Leaders at Annual Pinnacle Awards

NONPROFIT: Mentoring Part of Athena’s Efforts to Boost Members’ Careers

When women’s networking group Athena San Diego first launched in 1998, one mission was bumping some of the old boys out of the Old Boys Network, especially in the life sciences and technology sectors.

Border Region Seen as Land of Opportunity

RETAIL: Infrastructure Improvements and Large Customer Base Are Draws

Ongoing border-crossing and highway upgrades, combined with the continued lure of value-oriented outlet centers for U.S. and Mexican consumers, are reviving plans to boost retail offerings in the San Ysidro border area of southern San Diego County.

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Local Company Decides It’s Time for Real Living

REAL ESTATE: Affiliation Follows Growth Pattern At Exclusive Properties

Windermere Exclusive Properties, a franchisee of Windermere Real Estate, has announced that it has signed a new agreement with the Real Living, a national real estate franchise company.

Monsanto Provides Substantial Boost For Local Startup

CLEAN-TECH: Investment To Help Sapphire Energy Commercialize ‘Green Crude’

What does Monsanto Co., the St. Louis-based behemoth of agriculture and biotechnology, have in common with San Diego’s green-fuel startup Sapphire Energy Inc.?

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With Lease Rates Low, the Cutters Move in

RETAIL: Hair Salon Operators Sweep Up Shopping Center Space

Discount haircut chains continue to ride a post-recession wave of consumer frugality, with national and regional players looking to boost their San Diego footprint.

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North Embarcadero Project Gets Another Chance at Development

Following more than a decade of revisions and legal challenges, the start of work on improvements to downtown San Diego’s North Embarcadero district could be nearing reality.

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Construction Classes Help to Share Knowledge and Opportunities

EDUCATION: Objective Is to Aid Minority-Owned And Small Businesses

Turner Construction Co., San Diego is giving something back to the community by helping to prepare women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses to compete for construction jobs.

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Kratos Deploying Aggressive Strategy

DEFENSE: Company Has Paid $522M to Buy 5 Firms Since May

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc., the government contractor that grows by bolting on smaller defense businesses, has concluded its latest purchase: an outfit with 1,000 employees, a talent for microwave communications, and a front-row seat to the unrest in North Africa.

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Spring Thaw: Commercial Property Looks Better to Wary Investors

REAL ESTATE: Volume of Local Office Transactions Could Double This Year

Thanks to improving fundamentals including job growth, U.S. commercial real estate investors are looking past current crises and coming off the sidelines to make deals, signaling a period of steady recovery in most property sectors during the next four years.

Banks Aim to Share Strengths, Overcome Weaknesses With Merger

Although the parties announced it as a merger, Embarcadero Bank is buying Coronado First Bank in a stock and cash deal that would pay Coronado First shareholders the tangible book value for each of their shares.

Executive Profile

Trindl Reeves serves as a principal and the chief sales officer at insurance brokerage Barney & Barney LLC, one of the largest and longest-standing brokerages in the U.S.F

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Employers Offer Simpler Alternative To More Complex Cafeteria Plans

INSURANCE: Employees Can Still Choose From a Menu of Benefits Options

Among midsized employers, the old-school cafeteria approach to benefits —

Online Tools Take Some Labor Out of Processing Employee Benefits

TECHNOLOGY: Web Strategy Gives Workers Autonomy With HR Tasks

Time-challenged employers increasingly rely on Web-based tools to streamline benefits management.

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Wireless Glucose Meter Can Be a Lifesaving Connection for Many

HEALTH CARE: Firm Makes Some Big Deals In the Wireless Market

Ten percent of the world’s population suffers from diabetes — nearly 9 percent in the U.S. — in large part due to the obesity problem sweeping the developed nations.

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Sunstone to Take 75 Percent Stake In Hilton Hotel

Sunstone Hotel Investors of Aliso Viejo is acquiring a majority interest in the 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel for $475 million, marking the third major transaction of 2011 involving a large local hotel.

Projects, developments and other activity in cities in and around San Diego County

Contractor Completes $10.6M Air Force Facility 

San Diego-based general contractor T.B. Penick & Sons Inc. has completed construction on the $10.6 million design/build Global Support Squadron Command and Operations Facility at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield for the U.S. Air Force.

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News and notes from communities around San Diego County

New Pediatric Care Center Offering Specialty Services

Health care providers Sanford Children’s Clinic, operated by South Dakota-based Sanford Health, and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego have opened a new pediatric care center in Oceanside.

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News in Brief

Region’s Economic Index Shows Big Positive Gain

San Diego’s economy may be on the mend.

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Soccer Site to Report on Feats At Firm’s Venues

An upcoming tournament gives new meaning to the term “kickoff.” Sportsplex USA, which operates amateur playing fields in Poway and Santee, signs a partnership pact with online sports reporting site SoccerNation.com.

Winning game plan

SPORTS BIZ: Padres’ President Says Fans Are Buying in to Team’s Exciting Style of Play

Luring fans to baseball games, or any sporting event in San Diego, has always been a challenge, but the San Diego Padres may have an even tougher task this season.

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Kyoto Prize Winners Inspire Greatness in Us

For the 10th year, we welcome the latest laureates of the Kyoto Prize to San Diego for the three-day Kyoto Prize Symposium.

What Helps and What Hurts in Our Recovery

The notion that higher rents and lower vacancy rates in our region’s commercial and office markets are responsible for better economic times locally makes about as much sense as suggesting that $5-per-gallon gasoline would create a national economic boom.

Denise Brown Speech to Address Issues of Domestic Violence

The YWCA San Diego’s annual “In the Company of Women” luncheon is scheduled for April 20 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.

Sunday, April 3

Executives’ Families to Retire Food Bank Mortgage

President Bill Clinton will join Qualcomm Inc. founder Irwin Jacobs and businessman Steve Cushman and their wives April 3 at the San Diego Food Bank to announce the two families are paying off the $1.76 million mortgage on the food bank’s warehouse in Miramar.

Friday, April 1

Legoland Opens New Star Wars Attraction

Legoland California in Carlsbad has debuted its Star Wars Miniland, featuring 2,000 Lego models in interactive scenes from the six Star Wars movies.