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Daily Business Report — Nov. 15, 2011

Agencies Purchase Rancho Lilac Property for Preservation

Rancho Lilac

SANDAG and Caltrans have purchased the 902-acre Rancho Lilac property in Valley Center, completing a plan to preserve a total of 1,600 acres of open space in the State Route 76 corridor in North County. Rancho Lilac was purchased for $16.5 million. It was the largest single acquisition in SANDAG’s Environmental Mitigation Program (EMP), which restores native habitats to offset disturbances caused by transportation projects. The program gets its acquisition funds — $850 million — from the half-cent sales tax for transportation.

Since taking effect in 2008, the EMP has paid for 19 properties totaling 2,295 acres throughout the county. Much of the land was previously slated for development. About $83.5 million have been spent to preserve sensitive habitats that support threatened wildlife, such as the least Bell’s vireo and arroyo toad.

Keys Creek

Rancho Lilac, which gets its greenery from Keys Creek, contains 17 different vegetation categories, including cotton willow riparian forest, chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodland, as well as historical buildings representative of early ranch life in Southern California.

According to SANDAG, Col. Irving Salomon and his wife, Cecile, hosted many politically and socially influential people at Rancho Lilac between 1945 and 1962, including President Eisenhower, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, United Nations Undersecretary-General Ralph Bunche and honeymooning movie star Myrna Loy.

Wells Fargo Ranked No. 1 in SBA Loans

Wells Fargo said that, for the second consecutive year, it ranked as the No. 1 SBA lender, in both dollars and units, to San Diego and Imperial Counties’ small business owners. For the federal fiscal year 2011 —  Oct. 1, 2010- Sept. 30, 2011 — Wells Fargo extended 108 loans totaling $53.7 million in SBA 7(a) financing to small business owners in the two counties. The company has 107 banking locations and more than 3,100 employes in the two counties.

Northrop Installs Weapons Systems on Unmanned Helicopters

Northrop Grumman Corp. has started work outfitting the Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter with a weapons system. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System laser-guided 70mm rocket — in production for the Navy since 2010 — will allow ship commanders to identify and engage hostile targets without calling in other aircraft for support.

Fire Scout

“By arming Fire Scout, the Navy will have a system that can locate and prosecute targets of interest,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for tactical unmanned systems. “This capability shortens the kill chain and lessens the need to put our soldiers in harm’s way.” Northrop will deliver the equipment needed to control the weapons system under a $17 million contract awarded to the company Sept. 23 by Naval Air Systems Command.Final delivery of an operational system is expected by March 2013. Fire Scout will be Navy’s first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. Its ability to operate at low ground speeds makes it well suited for supporting littoral missions such as drug interdiction, antipiracy actions, search and rescue, reconnaissance and port security.

Roberto’s Names Vice President of Operations


George Hunter has been named vice president of operations for Roberto’s Mexican Food in San Diego. Hunter, an industry veteran, is to initially focus his work on the launch and growth of the restaurant’s new catering division and real estate development for the company. Before joining Roberto’s, Hunter was chief operating officer of Pat & Oscar’s Restaurants. Hired by the original founders of Pat & Oscar’s, Hunter held an equity stake in the business until it was later sold. Prior to joining Pat & Oscar’s he served in several capacities with Sears & Roebuck in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company’s new catering division can serve groups from 10 to 10,000, according to Hunter.

Interior Design Group Elects New President


Solana Beach resident Mary Kellejian has been elected president of the San Diego chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers for the 2011-12 term. Kellejian is an interior designer who recently moved her design studio Polo Bay Interiors to the Cedros Avenue Design District after 25 years in Del Mar.  Other board members include Robin W. Carrier, president-elect; Marcel Perry, industry partner representative, director of financial oversight; Lynn Wyndham Morris, allied member, director of communications; Bertha Hernandez, allied member, director of professional development and programs; Anne Kellett, director of membership; Kathleen Kita-Palmer, director at large; and Megan Siason, student representative to the board.

Small Business Workshops

SCORE San Diego continues its series of small business workshops. For more information, call (619) 557-7272 or visit

• Nov. 16 – Managing Grants and Contracts (for Nonprofits) – 9 to 11:30 a.m. at The San Diego Foundation in Point Loma (2508 Historic Decatur Rd., #200, San Diego 92106; pre-paid registration $39, $49 at the door).

• Nov. 16 – Business Plan 201: How to Write a Winning Business Plan – 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at National University in Kearny Mesa (9388 Lightwave Avenue, San Diego 92123; pre-paid registration $99, $109 at the door).

• Nov. 18 – Internet Marketing 302: Develop a Winning Email Marketing Success Strategy – 9 a.m. to noon at National University in Kearny Mesa (9388 Lightwave Avenue, San Diego 92123; pre-paid registration $49, $59 at the door).

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of SD METRO, the North Park News and the West Coast Craftsman. Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865.

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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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