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Publisher’s Notebook Projects put our economy back on track

As the year 2001 begins to wind down , only 112 days left and just 105 shopping days until Christmas , there are still some significant issues on the table that we’re hopeful will be settled before 2002 kicks off.

The top issue is the economy, of course. I believe the fourth quarter of this year will allow everyone to see the economy turning around. Consumer holiday spending will kick in, the Fed will make its last interest cut of the year and companies will begin making plans for the new year with hiring and new product introductions being highlighted.

There will be more employee layoffs as CEOs continue to repair their bottom lines in order to have better year-end reports, but basically, many experts feel the end of the down turn is here. Even though unemployment is hovering at 5 percent, the fact still remains that 95 percent of the work force is working and making money and will begin spending it when they see some good news more than one day at a time.

Locally, we are looking at the resumption of the East Village project in Downtown, completion of the new Convention Center expansion, new hotels springing up, dozens of housing projects under way, two new office towers (the first in San Diego in a dozen years), new student facilities at Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in new construction by the military in San Diego, and countless other signs of progress before the year ends.

When the city is full of construction cranes instead of unemployment lines, then just about everyone , including the media , have to start admitting good things are outweighing the bad in the economy.

In local government, many issues remain on the table as well: the approval and funding for a new main library in San Diego, restructuring the regional government, the completion of state Routes 56 and 905, and the approval of a regional airport authority to name but a few.

The airport authority bills are zooming through the Sacramento committees necessary to make it a reality. Many local officials and gadflies are whining about the speed of the process.

When Charles Lindbergh helped open the new airport bearing his name, he knew that the airport he was looking at was only the beginning. After dozens of studies costing millions of dollars, we are zooming into approving an airport authority with the authority to pick a site for a new and larger facility. I would say that enough talk has occurred, and after 50 years or so we should proceed with haste to gain control of our airport site.

Another issue that seems so simple it should be obvious to all of us is the need for an air cargo facility, which has so many pluses that I do not have the space to list them all. The San Diego Air Commerce Center at Brown Field is vital to the transportation plans on every drawing board in the region.

More than 80 percent of all cargo generated in the region goes by truck to Los Angeles for shipment around the world. Presently, the other 20 percent or so goes by air from Lindbergh in the belly of passenger planes or giant FedEx- and UPS-type planes. With overcrowding already occurring at Lindbergh, why not move the flights to an underutilized airfield and pull hundreds of 18-wheel semi’s off the north bound freeways?

Another key part of this program is funding. The Air Commerce Center business group headed by Lehman Brothers has all the money needed to build the facility.

The civilian development group running Rodriguez Field in Tijuana is interested in venturing with Lehman because they have a 747 repair facility sitting empty on their airport grounds. Thousands of jobs await filling, nearly a billion dollars of new money sits waiting to be spent, and yet a few special interest groups are trying to kill the project. In San Diego nothing really needed can proceed without countless challenges, court battles and whining.

It goes without saying that in my opinion, progress is under way. Opportunity is knocking and all it takes to move on with prosperity is the will of the masses to see the light at the end of the tunnel is on.

To the balance sheet.


Credit:

To Mervyn’s California for teaming up with the Salvation Army to provide more than 500 less-fortunate children in the region with new back-to-school clothing. The 12 local Mervyn’s stores all contributed to a shopping day August 12 to allow the children to select new clothing. Who says that good corporate neighbors don’t exist anymore? We salute Mervyn’s management for not using the convenient excuse of a sagging economy to not fund this program.


Credit:

To UCSD Chancellor Robert Dynes and his team for winning a huge share of the $53 million grant to fund the TeraGrid computer network linking some of the world’s most powerful computers that will usher in unprecedented new scientific breakthroughs. As important as the research is, the fact is that winning a share keeps UCSD and the region in the forefront of information technology research in the world. The TeraGrid network that will come out of the research done with the grant money will transform the way science and engineering will be done, according to the chancellor. This is another reason why we should all salute UCSD as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

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