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Daily Business Report — Dec. 9, 2009

Groundbreaking Friday for New Downtown Courthouse

The U.S. General Services Administration will break ground on construction of the new San Diego Courthouse at 339 Broadway on Friday — a 16-story tower that will contain six courtrooms and 12 chambers. The ceremony is at 2 p.m. The $380 million construction project will integrate new and existing federal buildings with gardens, plaza, a water feature and pedestrian paths. It was designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP. the building design is based on sustainable strategies that take advantage of natural daylighting throughout the entire building and offer natural ventilation on selected floors. The building is expected to achieve a LEED Silver certification through a number of green-building strategies. In addition to reducing energy use through daylighting, the design calls for water-efficient fixtures and irrigation systems, the use of low-emitting and recycled materials, and high-efficiency mechanical systems.

The architect said the central location of the site guarantees a vital mix of Downtown employees and residents that will use the new civic plaza as a community gathering space. The plaza opens north to Broadway — the city’s major street — and south to engage the E Street promenade. Each of the federal buildings will have a front door presence on the vehicle-free landscaped plaza.

McCarthy Wins Contract for $92 Million Mesa College Building

McCarthy Building Companies has been awarded the contract for construction of the new 180,000-square-foot, four-story Math and Science Building at San Diego Mesa College — a $92 million project. The instructional building is being funded by the $1.555 billion Propositions S and N construction bond program, which is providing for new teaching and learning facilities, major renovations and campus infrastructure projects at Mesa, City and Miramar colleges, and six continuing education campuses.  Construction is expected to begin in early September 2010, with completion slated for November 2012. It is the second major project McCarthy has been awarded by the San Diego Community College District at Mesa College. The company also built the new three-story, 50,000-square-foot Allied Health Building, which was completed in August.

Designed by Architects | Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, the Math and Science Building will house four floors of classrooms, laboratory space and offices for the departments of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physical sciences. Additionally, several faculty/student interaction areas will be incorporated into the building’s design. The building will be constructed of structural steel with concrete shear walls and an exterior curtain wall. The building is designed to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification under guidelines set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Robert Betz is project director for McCarthy. Consultants include Hope Engineering for structural engineering and X-nth for mechanical and electrical engineering. The program manager for the Propositions S and N construction program for the San Diego Community College District is Gafcon.

Merger and Acquisitions Activity Lifeless

Merger professionals from San Diego and other areas of California say the current merger and acquisitions environment remains moribund, yet express guarded optimism about a pickup in the first half of 2010, with strategic investors and distressed sales leading the way. The latest twice-yearly survey by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) and Thomson Reuters reveals that negative sentiment about the dealmaking environment has not changed during the last year, with 85 percent of dealmakers from California saying the current M&A environment is fair or poor.

“The economic downturn has certainly challenged the M&A market in San Diego, whether from the vantage point of a buyer or seller,” said Mark Stepka, partner with CEA, LLP and president of the San Diego chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth.  “Although certain high quality companies are still attracting debt and equity, opportunities have been hampered through the tightening credit markets which has impacted their ability to grow, requiring such companies to self-fund their operations.”

The ACG-Thomson Reuters Year-End 2009 DealMakers Survey polled investment bankers, private equity professionals, corporate development officers, lawyers, accountants and business consultants in October and November 2009.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents indentified the current environment as a buyer’s market, 80 percent of respondents said the current market favors strategic investors, and 95 percent of respondents expect strategic investments to accelerate in 2010.  Fifty-one percent of respondents are actively pursuing distressed and undervalued companies.

Dealmakers are optimistic that the debt markets will continue to rebound, with 73 percent saying they will improve over the next six months, 25 percent saying they will remain the same and 2 percent saying they will worsen.

Despite an expected improvement in access to credit, 57 percent of dealmakers expect to put more equity into deals over the next six months, with more than half (57 percent) saying they expect to invest 40 percent or more equity in companies in the next six months.

Dealmakers say the best strategy for success in the current environment is:

• Focus more on portfolio companies (20 percent).

• Consider more minority/growth capital investments (17 percent).

• Sit it out and wait for a better investment climate (15 percent).

• Focus more on deal sourcing (6 percent).

Industries that present the best opportunities for buyouts are:

• Healthcare/Life Sciences (17 percent)

• Business Services (17 percent)

• Manufacturing and distribution (15 percent)

• Technology (14 percent)

Realtors Association Opens Second Service Center

The San Diego Association of Realtors will open its second service center at 884 Eastlake Parkway, Suite 1629, at the Village Walk at Eastlake Shopping Center in Chula Vista. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. Much like SDAR’s original facility at 4845 Ronson Court in San Diego, the South County Service Center will offer training courses and a real estate supply store. Operating Hours for the new Chula Vista store will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for December and then, moving forward, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The Ronson Court store is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 5p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Chula Vista store will have a staff of two two start. The San Diego store has a staff of 11.

The Chula Vista center will offer trainings and seminars, such as the upcoming Contract Essentials, Know your Disclosures and FHA — it’s not just for first-time homebuyers. The center also has a store at which Realtors can purchase anything from signs, forms to knick-knacks.

On The Move . . .

Valerie Brent, a 22-year veteran of the mortgage business and a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist, has joined Opes Advisors as a senior mortgage adviser to the San Diego office. Prior to joining Opes, Brent was a mortgage consultant/adviser with The Lenders Group, a division of General Mortgage, where she worked for the past 10 years.

Federal Contracts . . .

SAIC, San Diego, won a $9,875,760 federal contract from the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, for marine mammal systems services.

G2 Software Systems Inc., San Diego, won a $6,855,867 federal contract from the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, for marine mammal veterinary care, research and management.

Marine Services Commercial Diving Co., Chula Vista, Calif., won an $85,310 federal contract from the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group 1, San Diego, for divers life support.

(Source: Targeted News Service)

Julie Wright Receives Fran Aleshare Award

Julie Wright, president and founder of (W)rightOn Communications Inc., accepted the Fran Aleshire Award for her outstanding leadership and regional involvement at the San Diego North Economic Development Council’s annual holiday luncheon and awards presentation. Each year the Leadership North County Alumni Association presents the Fran Aleshire Award to a graduate of the program who, in the spirit of Fran Aleshire, exhibits the characteristics of great leadership. Individuals are nominated by their peers. Past recipients include San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond (2008), retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Mark Moore (2007), Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfiler (2006), and Ramona Finnila (2005), vice chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

BBB Bestows Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics

Twenty San Diego County businesses and organizations were honored Tuesday for ethical business practices by the San Diego Better Business Bureau. Seven for‑profit companies and one nonprofit organization were honored as top winners of a 2009 BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, while 12 others were named as finalists. “Consumers want to do business with ethical companies and our Torch Awards is one way to identify companies that maintain a competitive advantage by adhering to BBB ethical standards,” said Sheryl Bilbrey, BBB president and chief executive officer.

Selected as winners of a 2009 BBB Torch Award were (categories were based on number of employees which appear in parenthesis): ALM Window & Door Inc. of National City (one‑to‑four); Dream Design Builders of Rancho Bernardo (five‑to‑10); Jackson Design and Remodeling of San Diego (11‑to‑24); Action Air Conditioning and Heating of San Marcos (25‑to‑99); Toyota of El Cajon (100-to‑249); Barney & Barney LLC (250‑to‑499); San Diego County Credit Union (500-plus); and, Girl Scouts, San Diego Imperial Council (charity/non‑profit category).

Finalists included: RSVP Publications of San Diego and Major League Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. of Oceanside (one-to-four); Pelican Glass Inc. of Carlsbad and United Auto Body & Paint of San Diego (five-to-10); Pure Financial Advisors of Mission Valley and DSD Business Systems of San Diego (11-to-24); ASI Hastings Inc. of Kearny Mesa and The Marine Group LLC of Chula Vista (25-to-99); Coles Fine Flooring of San Diego and Corky’s Pest Control Inc. of San Marcos (100-to-249); SGIS of San Diego (500-plus); and, Pacific Safety Council (charity/non-profit). There were no finalists in the 250-to-499-employee category.

Companies and organizations were not the only award recipients at the luncheon. Five high school students who wrote essays on the importance of ethics and integrity in the community were presented with cash scholarships. A total of 166 essays from students attending 65 different high schools in San Diego County were evaluated by the judges. Sycuan Casino was the presenting sponsor of this year’s BBB scholarship program.

This year’s recipients of a Torch Award scholarship were (amounts awarded appear in parenthesis): Nicole Daneshvar, a senior at University City High School ($500); Logan Gallagher, a senior at San Dieguito Academy High School ($750); Michael Gaulden, a senior at San Diego High School of Business ($1,000); Matthew Plummer, a senior at Grossmont High School ($1,250); and Turner Massey, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School ($1,500).

Enjoy the 38th Annual San Diego Bay of Lights

The 38th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights — the boating community’s Christmas present to San Diego — will be held Dec. 13 and 20 before an estimated 80,000 spectators lining the tidelands. Nearly 80 vessels, adorned with holiday lights and decorations, will light up the bay. The explosion of fireworks will sound the start of the parade at 5:30 p.m. The parade takes about one hour to one and one-half hours to pass any given point along the parade route. The anticipated route is as follows: the parade is scheduled to head east from Shelter Island and arrive at Harbor Island by 6 p.m. From there, it will continue on to the Embarcadero, arriving there about 6:30 p.m. The procession is expected to sail by Seaport Village at approximately 7 p.m., before finishing at the Coronado Ferry Landing at about 7:30 p.m. The free event is sponsored by the Port of San Diego and is organized by San Diego Port tenants, boating enthusiasts and volunteers.

Participating boats will compete for prizes and are judged on originality and the creative use of decorations depicting this year’s parade theme, “Christmas at the Zoo.” Trophies will honor the vessels based on their use of holiday lighting, music, special effects and originality.

There are many options for viewing the parade from the water, including dinner cruises aboard both San Diego Harbor Excursion and Hornblower Cruises and Events. This year, the Hornblower Hybrid will enter the Parade of Lights. The public is invited to participate in the cruise on board the Hybrid and join the fun. The Maritime Museum of San Diego will host its annual Star of India Auxiliary dinner event serving a holiday buffet aboard the historic ferryboat Berkeley. And USS Midway Museum members are invited to take part in a special viewing party aboard the carrier. For more information, visit the San Diego Parade of Lights Website or call (619) 224-2240.

The Daily Business Report

The Daily Business Report is a product of REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan magazine and the North Park News. Our offices are in Cabrillo Plaza, 3990 Old Town Ave., Suite A-201, in Old Town. To reach editorial, call (619) 906-4104. For advertising, dial (619) 906-4105. The fax is (619) 906-4106. Send editorial material via e-mail to manny@sandiegometro.com. For advertising, send to cyndi@sandiegometro.com.

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