San Diego Business Journal

Head of San Diego EDC Announces Retirement

— Julie Meier Wright is leaving her job as president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. effective June 30, the organization announced Jan. 5.

Wright, who worked for former Gov. Pete Wilson as the secretary of trade and commerce, has been in the position since August 1997. Although she’s retiring, she will continue working for the EDC as a consultant for the remainder of the year.

EDC Chairman Debbie Reed said the organization has undertaken a national search for a new chief executive officer who should be chosen by the time Wright retires.

“Julie has done a spectacular job leading what is considered one of the best economic development organizations in the country,” Reed said.

Wright was credited with transforming the EDC from one public contract to a private sector driven organization that has a much greater impact on the region. Among her key achievements were playing a pivotal role in the passage of the half-cent sales tax for transportation projects called “TransNet,” and aiding in the retention and expansion of the military presence in San Diego.

EDC, a nonprofit entity, receives funding from both public and private sources, and it is engaged in business attraction and retention for the region.

— Mike Allen

Economic Development Agency Makes Key Hire

Meredith Dowling has joined the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. as vice president of business development, the organization said Jan. 3.

In her new role, Dowling will assist in the corporation’s efforts to increase the number of high-wage jobs in the region, and work to raise San Diego’s rankings in the national media as an important market for investment.

Dowling was recently with the Dallas Regional Chamber, where she was vice president of international and technology business development. Earlier in her career, Dowling was with the San Diego Regional Technology Alliance and Connect, in the days when it was known as UCSD Connect.

— Brad Graves

CBiz Wealth Management Is Acquired By Mariner

A group of nine investment advisers from CBiz Wealth Management’s San Diego office along with 15 other advisers at CBiz offices in Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, and Cumberland, Md., are now working for Mariner Wealth Advisors, based in Leawood, Kan., as of Jan. 1, Mariner announced.

With the acquisition of CBiz Wealth Management, Mariner Wealth Advisors, which manages about $8 billion in assets, has a total of 270 advisers.

Terms of the transaction weren’t announced, but each of the CBiz Wealth Management Group’s offices is expected to remain open and be re-branded under the Mariner name within a year, Mariner said.

— Mike Allen

Navy Is Planning to Purchase 20 New Ships

The U.S. Navy said Dec. 29 that it plans to buy up to 20 Littoral Combat Ships from two contractors over six years, splitting its buy between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Austal.

The move eventually affects San Diego’s ship repair community, as some of the ships will be based locally.

If all of the ships are funded, the value of the Lockheed contract will be $3.6 billion and the value of the Austal contract $3.5 billion.

The Navy’s originally stated plan was to choose between the two designs.

In its Dec. 29 announcement, the Navy said the average cost of both variants was $440 million per ship, adding that the figure includes government-furnished equipment and a margin for cost growth over five years.

Both vessels are small for Navy ships. The Lockheed design is 378 feet long, the Austal design 419 feet. Lockheed’s has a single hull made from steel. Austal’s is an aluminum trimaran, a ship with a large center hull and minor hulls to either side.

The ships are fast, capable of exceeding 40 knots, and able to operate in shallow waters, or littoral areas. The ships would carry containerized payloads adapting them for mine-hunting, submarine-hunting or surface warfare. The payloads could be swapped depending on the ship’s assignment.

— Brad Graves

Senomyx Makes New Deal With Cadbury Adams

Senomyx Inc., a San Diego-based company that develops flavor ingredients for the food, beverage and ingredient supply industries, said it has an agreement with Cadbury Adams USA LLC, a unit of Kraft Foods Inc., to develop novel flavor modulators for potential use in the gum and medicated confectionery product categories.

According to a Jan. 3 announcement, terms of the agreement call for Cadbury Adams to pay Senomyx an undisclosed sum for development funding and specified payments upon achievements during the collaborative period. Cadbury Adams may evaluate and select flavor modulators for commercialization, after which Senomyx will receive royalty payments based on sales.

“Senomyx had a relationship with Cadbury Adams prior to its acquisition by Kraft Foods, and we are pleased to initiate this new collaboration,” said Kent Snyder, chief executive officer of Senomyx. “We look forward to working with them again.”

— Steve Sinovic