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Daily Business Report — July 1, 2010

Margo L. Lewis Named to Superior Court Bench

Margo L. Lewis

Margo L. Lewis, a partner in the San Diego law firm of Moore, Lewis, Schulman & Moore since 2000, has been appointed to the San Diego County Superior Court by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Lewis previously was an attorney and partner for Lewis & Schulman from 1997 to 2000. She served the San Diego Community College District as an adjunct faculty member for the Legal Assistant Program in Family Law in 1995.

Lewis was a sole practitioner from 1995 to 1997 and a partner at Galam, Lewis & Pope from 1994 to 1995 and Galam, Hurt, Lewis & Pope from 1993 to 1994.

Lewis earned her law degree from California Western School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John L. Davison.

Lewis is a Republican.

County Economic Barometer Rises for 14th Consecutive Month

USD’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for the county rose 0.2 percent in May — the 14th consecutive advance — and was led by a large surge in building permits. Professor Alan Gin, author of the Index, said there were also moderate gains in help wanted advertising and the outlook for the national economy, as well as a minor turnaround in local consumer confidence. On the downside, said Gin, local stock prices were down sharply and initial claims for unemployment insurance rose, which is a negative for the Index.

The outlook for the local economy remains unchanged from recent months,” Gin reported. “San Diego is likely to have slow to moderate growth for the rest of 2010 and into at least the first half of 2011. One potential problem impacting the recovery is the fiscal problems faced by all levels of government, particularly the huge budget deficit faced by the state of California.

“Since tax increases have been ruled out, there are likely to be big cuts in state services and employment, especially in education, which is the biggest part of the state budget. While higher education appears to have been spared in the budgets proposed so far, there continues to be pressure on K-12 education. Layoffs there would hurt not only in the short term due to the reduction of consumer spending power, but the long term prospects for the local economy could be impacted as well with a less educated workforce.”

May’s increase puts the USD Index at 109.4, up from April’s reading of 109.2.

Workshop for Small Business Owner Wannabes

SCORE San Diego is offering a new, free business seminar for San Diegans who are interested in starting a small business but need to learn the first steps in the process. The Business Basics 101 seminar is scheduled for July 13 and 28 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at SCORE San Diego’s Downtown location at 550 West C St., Suite 550. The seminar focuses on understanding what it takes to start a business, learning the start-up basics and the advantages and disadvantages of owning your own business.

The seminar also will cover the critical success factors to keep a new business alive, the advantages and disadvantages of starting a new business versus buying an existing business or franchise and the difference between home-based businesses and online businesses. Attendees will be able to talk to SCORE San Diego counselors at the end of the seminar to plan their next steps, including workshops they should to attend, and to sign up for future one-on-one counseling sessions.

To enroll, call SCORE San Diego at (619) 557-7272.

Scot Sandstrom Named Entrepreneur of the Year

Scot Sandstrom, president and CEO of New Pointe Communities Inc., has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce (SDNCC) for his achievements as a business leader in the community. Sandstrom founded New Pointe Communities in 2007. His original plan was to focus on land development in San Diego County, but after the Witch Creek fires destroyed more than 1,000 homes in the region he changed his course. Sandstrom began buying the empty lots from fire survivors who could not rebuild or did not want to re-build their home. Today, Sandstrom and his team have rebuilt or are in the process of rebuilding 16 homes in six neighborhoods: The Trails, Westwood, Marbella, Westwood Legends, Eastview and Montelena. The construction has led to the creation of 3,500 construction jobs with companies throughout San Diego County.

Mutual of Omaha Bank Names San Diego Office Staff

Steve Connolly

Maria Adamo

Mark Agostino

Mutual of Omaha Bank has named three bankers — Steven Connolly, Maria Adamo and Mark Agostino — to help lead its new San Diego location at 3580 Carmel Mountain Road.

Connolly is community bank manager and will oversee all retail operations at the new location. He has more than 40 years of experience in the industry. Bank. Connolly earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and management from Metropolitan State College.

Adamo is an assistant branch manager, assisting Connolly in managing daily operations at the San Diego location. Adamo has more than 25 years of experience in the industry and most recently served as banking operations supervisor for Imperial Capital Bank in San Diego.

Agostino joined the bank as a personal banker, responsible for working with He most recently served as an account manager for Right Way Promotions in San Diego. Prior to that, he was a relationship manager for First Republic Bank in La Mesa.

Mutual of Omaha Bank operates a network of community banks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Nevada and Texas, and has loan production offices in Iowa and Kansas. It is a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha.

EcoDog Inc. Moves Headquarters

EcoDog Inc., which produces the FIDO Home Energy Watchdog System, has relocated from Vista to larger headquarters on Pacific Center Boulevard in San Diego. The facility is more than triple the size of the company’s previous location. “We’ve come a long way from our startup workshop beginnings and are looking forward to having more space for product development, testing, customer service and administrative support,” said CEO Ron Pitt.

The company’s FIDO Home Energy Watchdog is a hardware/software system that shows homeowners exactly how and where they are consuming electricity on a real-time basis with room-by-room detail. The company awarded the CommNexus Greatest Gadget 2009 honors for the system.

Housing Commission to Run Winter Homeless Shelters

The San Diego Housing Commission has been given authority to oversee the city’s two homeless winter shelters under an agreement approved by the San Diego Housing Authority. One of the shelters will be in Downtown and ther other will be in the Midway District for veterans. The tent-like structures will be open for 120 days from December through April. Downtown’s shelter can accommodate up to 200 persons while the veterans shelter serves up to 150.

A Memorandum of Understanding calls for the Housing Commission to manage the contracts awarded to nonprofit social service agencies to operate the winter shelters and city funded homeless programs.

Under the MOU, the Housing Commission will receive the city’s allocation of $660,147 in federal Emergency Shelter Grant Funds along with $856,809 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding. The Housing Commission will continue to contribute up to $400,000 of its own funds.

The combined funding of $1.9 million will also be used to operate the twoemergency winter shelters; Cortez Hill Family Shelter, which provides emergency housing for up to 45 families or about150 individuals; and the Neil Good Day Center in East Village, which offers homeless services such as laundry, mail, storage, and showers.

Housing Authority Loan to Help Finance Barrio Apartments

The San Diego Housing Authority also approved a $7 million loan from the Housing Commission to help finance a 92-unit affordable apartment complex that is part of Mercado del Barrio, a mixed-use development in Barrio Logan. Mercado del Barrio will improve 6.8-acres of blighted vacant lots bordered by Cesar Chavez Parkway, the Coronado Bridge overpass, Chicano Park, National Avenue and Main Street.

The loan from the Housing Commission will help finance the Estrella del Mercado Apartments, where monthly rents will range from $460 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,118 for a three-bedroom unit. The apartments, which are required to remain affordable for 55 years, are available to households whose annual earnings range from 30 percent to 60 percent of the San Diego Area Median Income. For a two-person household, the income limit ranges from $19,850 to $42,950 annually.

The $62.3 million mixed-use project also will have a retail center anchored by a Northgate Market grocery store and a 208-space parking structure. The apartment project is being developed by Chelsea Investment Corp. of Carlsbad, while the commercial portion is being built by Shea Properties.

Major components of the apartment’s financing include: $7 million loan from San Diego Housing Commission; $9.1 million loan from the San Diego Redevelopment Agency; $17.5 million in tax credit equity; $953,149 in deferred developer fees; and $110,625 federal solar tax credit grant.

J. Walcher Communications Adds Account Executive

Sandy Young

The J. Walcher Communications public relations agency has named Sandy Young as its new account executive. Young has worked with the firm on a part-time basis for the past year. Young has accumulated experience at several of San Diego’s public relations and marketing communications firms. 

Prior to her new job, she was a senior account executive at Benedetto Communications (now Chemistry), where she led a variety of hotel, restaurant, health and real estate clients. She also served as the PR firm’s social media specialist. 

Young also worked for The McRae Agency as an account manager. Young holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in literature/writing from UCSD.

Mama’s Kitchen names Special Events Coordinator

Lynn Briscoe

Mama’s Kitchen has hired Lynn Briscoe as its new special events coordinator. Briscoe has nearly two decades of nonprofit fundraising experience. She will be responsible for coordinating annual fundraising events for the nonprofit organization. The organization prepares ands delivers three meals a day, seven days a week, to men, women and children affeced by AIDS/HIV or cancer. Briscoe previously was executive assistant to the chief operating officer of Imaging Healthcare Specialists for six years, and was executive assistant to the CEO and chief medical officer of Sharp Community Medical Group for 11 years. She has organized fundraisers for various organizations including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and numerous golf tournaments for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts and Athletes Helping Athletes.

Hispanic Business Showcase Scheduled for Sept. 11-12

Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, ACCION San Diego and CDC Small Business Finance will be among speakers at the 2010 Hispanic Business Showcase Sept. 11-12 at the San Diego Convention Center. The event is produced by the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce. Fernando Espuelas, the founder of StarMedia, is the keynote speaker.

The Showcase also will feature business thought leaders speaking at “Learning Tracks” business seminars. Mirna Bard encourages business owners to forget the hype in “Get Started on Social Media Right Away,”; Antonio de la Cerda exhibits his technology expertise on “Basic IT Concepts for Small Business,”; Juan Chaparro illustrates how to “Set Up An Online Store,”; Miriam Muley unleashes “The Power of Women and Women of Color for Exponential Growth,”; Richie Matthews joins Lucia Matthews to highlight their successes in “Reaching and Activating Hispanic Consumers Using Dialogue not Monologue,”; and Mari Smith shares her thoughts on “Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day.” A complete list of speakers can be found at The conference registration price is free and seminar passes are available for $75.

La Mesa Apartment Building Sells for $7.3 million

A 60-unit apartment building at 8401 Buckland Ave. in La Mesa has sold for $7,257,500. The seller was Grossmont Partners LP. The building was purchased by Grossmont Terrace LLC. Victor Krebs and Savvas Marinos of Colliers International represented the seller and Bob Weinberger of RJW Properties represented the buyer.

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, the North Park News, Kensington News and the West Coast Craftsman. (619) 906-4104.

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We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

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