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State to Close Trade Office Due to Cutbacks

State to Close Trade Office Due to Cutbacks

BY MANDY JACKSON

Staff Writer

The San Diego Regional Office of the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency is shutting down Oct. 4 after nine years because of state budget cuts.

The TTCA provides financing, research and other assistance that promotes innovation, economic development and investment in California, as well as trade with international markets. The San Diego office opened Oct. 11, 1993.

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In addition to San Diego, all other regional TTCA offices, located in Pasadena, San Mateo and Sacramento, will be closed.

The agency will have a presence in the four regions in the future, but the extent of that presence has not yet been determined.

“We’re still really working hard to restructure and make it as convenient as possible for constituents to reach us,” said agency spokesman Norman Williams.

Facing a $23.6 billion deficit, the state Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis worked out a budget that cut funding for various programs.

The TTCA has a $51 million general fund budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year. The budget was $68 million for the 2001-02 fiscal year.

The San Diego office’s budget was $489,305 for the 2001-02 fiscal year. The six employees in its Downtown San Diego office in Symphony Towers have been offered jobs in Sacramento. Joan Dean is the local office’s director.

Randy Friedman, a Navy representative on California governmental affairs, said there were a number of instances in which the Navy worked with the local TTCA office.

The regional office helped in negotiations with other state agencies when the Navy needed California Coastal Commission and Regional Water Board approvals of emergency response plans when the Navy wanted to station two new nuclear aircraft carriers in San Diego Bay.

The USS John C. Stennis arrived in 1998 and the USS Ronald Reagan is scheduled to arrive in 2004. The TTCA estimates that the region receives $542 million worth of jobs and other benefits because the vessels call San Diego home.

The regional office also helped the Navy with a pier project at Naval Station San Diego. The Navy is demolishing two 30-foot-wide, outdated piers and replacing it with one 120-foot-wide modern pier.

There was a long-term dispute with the state over a small development fee required by the California Environmental Quality Act. It would have required the Navy to pay a $10,000 fee on a $43 million project.

“Joan Dean and that regional office were helpful in pointing out that for such a small fee, it wasn’t worth the trouble,” Friedman said.

The pier is being built with state of the art environmental safety guards. He said the regional office helped explain that the state’s environmental concerns would be covered by the Navy’s multimillion investment in a modernized pier.

“We’ll certainly miss them. But we understand the state has fiscal issues,” Friedman said. “They’ve enabled us to do a lot of these things on our own.”

In Chula Vista, the regional office provided the city with information that brought a Japanese manufacturer to the Eastlake Business Center. Dai Nippon Printing Co. had put out a formal request for proposals for cities where it could locate a manufacturing plant under the name DNP Electronics America.

The regional TTCA office, through the agency’s office of foreign investment, brought the request to Chula Vista, according to Cheryl Dye, Chula Vista’s economic development manager.

The TTCA also worked with Chula Vista’s “red team,” which comes together and assembles a proposal quickly when a business shows interest in locating in the city.

Prior to locating in Chula Vista and commencing operations in April of this year, DNP had just one small sales office in San Diego. The company has many maquiladora clients in Tijuana, such as Sony, Hitachi and Panasonic. Dye said DNP supplies 60 percent of the global market for rear projection screens.

Dye said DNP chose Chula Vista because of the work force available in the South County. Also, the business park is located in the master-planned community of Eastlake, where many of the company’s executives live. There is space for DNP to expand in the business park as well.

Dye said DNP has a 10-year, $7.5 million lease on its 90,000-sqaure-foot building and is now in negotiations to buy the property. The company employs about 90 people and may expand to more than 250 people.

Because the TTCA has offices around the globe, Dye said the agency is a great asset for California. “We were sorry to hear that (the local office was closing) because any assistance the state could provide in having people here is welcome.”

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