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Regional Roundup



Oceanside: Chamber Gets in Networking Fast Lane

You’ve heard of speed dating? The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce is offering “5-Minute Networking.”

Vista Chamber of Commerce members have been invited to join their Oceanside counterparts Jan. 17 for the event, meeting up to 20 individuals , one-on-one , in five-minute increments.

“You can describe your respective businesses, exchange business cards, and pass on referrals,” according to the Web site of the Oceanside chamber, which recently decided to open up its networking events to neighboring communities.

“This is the first time we’re combining this event with another chamber,” said Scott Ashton, event director. “We’re planning to do one with Carlsbad later this year, too. We wanted to get a more diverse group, to give our members more chances to network.”

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, Pat Broderick

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San Diego: Stone Makes Rock-Solid Impression

San Diego-based StoneImpressions expects to have well over $1 million in revenues by 2010 with help from Make-Mine-a-Million, a program helping women entrepreneurs achieve million-dollar businesses.

The Make-Mine-a-Million program started in 2006 and is a partnership between Open from American Express in New York and Count-Me-In, a New York nonprofit that provides access to business loans, consultation and education. Open is the division of American Express that offers small-business owners access to an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings designed to help meet their evolving needs, including charge and credit cards and access to working capital.

StoneImpressions was one of 20 winners chosen to participate in the program.

The program provides a combination of services, including money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools for women entrepreneurs to help them grow their small businesses.

StoneImpressions prints designs similar to hand painting on stone, plaster, wood and cement. The company charges $175 per square foot.

Privately held StoneImpressions hit a million dollars in sales in December and became profitable for the first time in 2006.

Melinda Earl, founder and owner of the nine-employee company, said she hopes to generate more than $1.5 million in revenue in 2007.

“I read about the program in the Los Angeles Times in June 2006,” Earl said. “It seemed really interesting because as the owner of a startup business you tend to be really isolated and focused on one thing, but this mentorship program really opens up your mind and makes you think bigger, makes you think about growing your business.”

Earl, 49, started the company in 2003 and said she is considering slowing down her business’s growth in 2007.

“I want to make sure we can handle our growth,” Earl said. “A lot will be happening, we are going to need to move to a bigger location and I would like to maintain our reputation for delivering our products on time.”

, Amy Yarnall

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Carlsbad: SkinMedica Has New Treatment for Acne

SkinMedica Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Carlsbad, announced Jan. 8 that it launched NeoBenz Micro SD, a product designed to treat mild to moderate acne.

“NeoBenz Micro SD is the only benzoyl peroxide medication to harness the benefits of Microsponge delivery technology, designed for low irritation in a convenient and portable packaging,” said Ronald Trancik, Ph.D., vice president of research and development at SkinMedica.

Microsponge is a registered trademark of Cardinal Health Inc.’s Pharmaceutical Technologies and Services. SkinMedica collaborated with Cardinal Health, which has offices in New Jersey and England, to develop NeoBenz Micro SD.

SkinMedica is a privately held company that markets both prescription and cosmetic dermatology products.

, Connie Lewis

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El Cajon: Bookseller Still Shining From the Sunbelt

El Cajon’s Sunbelt Publications Inc. celebrated its 22nd anniversary in December.

The discount bookseller and publishing house focuses on bringing books about regional topics to niche bookstores, gift shops and museums.

The warehouse of discount books is at 1256 Fayette St. in an industrial area of El Cajon. Authors Diana and Lowell Lindsay founded the company after seeing a need to improve the distribution process for natural history literature and guidebooks.

Today, Sunbelt services more than 1,000 customers, mostly in Southern California and Baja California, with 2,500 regional books and maps from approximately 150 publishers. Its publishing program produces five to 10 new titles per year.

, Katie Weeks

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Poway: Aubrey Named an Award-Winning Park

The Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California’s 2007 Engineering Excellence Award Competition has honored the city of Poway with an Award of Merit for Aubrey Park.

The park, located on Midland Avenue near Aubrey, York and Sycamore streets, was designed by Peter Pountney, Augie Chang and Jim Bliss at Psomas, a consulting engineering firm.

The park is stretched along 8.5 acres and includes four softball fields, a snack shop, walking trails, picnic areas and native tree groves.

, Stacey Bengtson

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Coronado: Program Looks to Empower Restaurateurs

Coronado restaurant owners who want to save money have an ally across the bay in the Empower Partnership.

The partnership promotes energy efficiency by distributing special hardware to Coronado and select South Bay cities. For the time being, it’s free.

The partnership distributes two things meant to cut down on energy consumption: compact fluorescent light bulbs and water-saving, pre-rinse spray valves.

The latter item, seen hanging above sinks in restaurant kitchens, is used during the first step of washing dishes in food service. By making the switch to a new valve, a business can save between $300 and $1,050 a year by reducing water, heating and sewer costs, according to program officials.

Installation is free, too.

Services are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The partnership is housed at Chula Vista City Hall. For information, contact Chula Vista’s Department of Conservation and Environmental Services at (619) 409-3893.

California utility ratepayers fund the partnership, run jointly by San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and the city of Chula Vista.

, Brad Graves

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San Marcos: Chamber Gala Slated for Jan. 20

The San Marcos Chamber of Commerce turns 40 this month.

The 625-member business organization plans to celebrate with an installation awards dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 at La Playa Cantina in San Marcos’ Restaurant Row.

, Jessica Long

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Escondido: Firm Takes Action, Gets New Address

Action Mail, a marketing and direct mail services company, has moved.

Previously at 920 S. Andreasen, the company is now open at 230 N. Market Place in Escondido.

Both addresses are in west Escondido in the industrial side of town, southwest of where Highway 78 meets Interstate 15.

, Jessica Long

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Encinitas: Insta-Theatres Finds Home in Old Town

An Encinitas organization, Insta-Theatres, won the state contract to operate at the Theatre in Old Town and is replacing Miracle Theatre Productions this month.

Miracle Theatre, which had such hits as “Beehive, the ’60s Musical” and the long-running “Forever Plaid,” operated the state concession for nearly 15 years, most recently on a month-to-month lease. Miracle opted out of submitting a bid to renew, citing financial reasons.

The state parks department awarded the 10-year contract to Mark Anderson, president of Insta-Theatres. Meanwhile, Miracle Theatre is said to be looking for a location in Encinitas.

, Connie Lewis

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Vista: Dave’s Seeks Fame, Fortune in North County

Famous Dave’s, a barbecue restaurant chain based in Minneapolis, plans to open a franchise store at 303 Vista Village Drive in early April, said Rick LeSage, chief operating officer for Star Ribs Inc., the company that operates three other Famous Dave’s in the state, in El Centro, Palmdale and Simi Valley.

The eatery known for its barbecued and grilled meats owns 40 locations, and has an additional 102 franchised locations in 35 states. The Vista location is expected to have an occupancy of 230 patrons.

For the first nine months of last year, the publicly traded company reported net income of $3.9 million on revenue of $88.6 million.

, Mike Allen

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