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Daily Business Report — March 12, 2013

Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout helicopter

Northrop Grumman to Produce More
Fire Scout Helicopters for the Navy

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. a contract valued at more than $71 million to produce six additional next-generation Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. The Fire Scout endurance upgrade, designated the MQ-8C and based on Bell Helicopter’s 407, will provide ship commanders with increased range, endurance and payload capacity over the current MQ-8B variant. The Navy plans to purchase a total of 30 aircraft under a rapid development effort. Northrop Grumman is currently under contract to produce 14 Fire Scouts that are scheduled to begin deploying in 2014. Manufacturing and assembly operations of the new Fire Scout variant are under way across the country.

Funding Plan for Convention Center
Expansion Given Tentative Approval

City News Service — A San Diego Superior Court judge gave his tentative blessing Monday to a plan to fund the expansion of the Downtown convention center. The city of San Diego filed the validation lawsuit because, according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the plan to charge owners of hotel properties a percentage of room rates on a sliding scale entered a gray area of the law. A citizens group called San Diegans for Open Government and civic activist Mel Shapiro joined in the court action to challenge the plan. Judge Ronald Prager ruled that the election of hoteliers to assess themselves “conformed with all applicable constitutional provisions, statutes and ordinances.” His tentative ruling turned aside nearly all of the opponents’ arguments. However, the judge is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Wednesday. Afterward, he will issue a final ruling.

Positive Job Market Expected
For the San Diego Region

San Diego employers expect to hire at a solid pace during the second quarter of this year, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. From April to June, 19 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 8 percent expect to reduce staff. Another 69 percent expect to maintain their current workforce levels and 4 percent are not certain of their hiring plans. This yields a Net Employment Outlook of 11 percent. “Hiring activity is expected to improve during the second quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2013 when the Net Employment Outlook was 6 percent,” said Manpower spokesperson Phil Blair. “Employers expect slightly more robust employment prospects compared with one year ago when the Net Employment Outlook was 9 percent.”

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in Construction, Transportation & Utilities, Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality and Other Services, according to Manpower. Employers in Wholesale & Retail Trade and Financial Activities plan to reduce staffing levels, while hiring in Durable Goods Manufacturing, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Information and Government is expected to remain unchanged.

Officials Say Connections Housing
Should be Replicated Around City

The 14-story Connections Housing shelter for the homeless is a “game changer” that should be replicated throughout San Diego, several city officials said Monday at a grand opening celebration for the facility. The 223-bed shelter went into operation, following months of delays, in an 86-year-old Downtown building that formerly housed the city’s World Trade Center and, before that, an athletic club. The concept of Connections Housing is to put the homeless and social and health services in the same location. The facility will offer studio apartments for 73 residents and transitional beds for another 150 people. City Council President Todd Gloria called it a “game changer” for dealing with Downtown’s burgeoning homeless population of several thousand people.

(City News Service report)

Study Shows Drop in Trolley Trips

Volatile gas prices boosted public transit ridership in most of the country last year, but not in San Diego, KPBS reports. A nearly 5 percent drop in trolley ridership in San Diego drove a slight decrease in overall transit ridership, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association. That same study found public transit trips in the U.S. increased by 1.5 percent in 2012. Many rail and bus services showed double-digit increases that year compared to 2011. Ridership for the Metropolitan Transit System, or MTS, which serves San Diego, was down 0.22 percent. Trolley trips, meanwhile, fell by 4.71 percent. Rob Schupp, a spokesman for the MTS, said one reason for this has been construction aimed at improving light-rail service. “We’ve had a lot of construction impacts,” said Schupp. “We’ve actually shut down the blue line on weekends.So those have an impact on our ridership numbers.”

Cubic Awarded U.S. Navy Contracts
To Support Advanced Combat Ship Training

Cubic Corp.’s Orlando-based Simulation Systems Division announced that it has received three prime contracts from Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division to support advanced combat ship training for the Littoral Combat Ship. If fully funded, the three contracts have the potential value of up to $298.5 million over the five-year period-of-performance. The Littoral Combat Ship program represents the United States Navy’s most advanced designs of vessels that can operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments.

Math and Social Sciences Building at
City College to Get Grand Opening

Math and Social Sciences Building

The $80.2 million Math and Social Sciences Building at San Diego City College will receive a ceremonial grand opening at 10 a.m. on Friday with speakers from the college and the San Diego Community College District. The building is the latest educational facility funded by the district’s $1.555 billion Propositions S and N construction bond program. The 6,000-sq         uare-foot complex has five floors or academic classrooms and laboratories for mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, history and political sciences, black and Chicano studies, a food services convenience store and espresso bar, a satellite book store and faculty and staff support space.

Advertising Fund For Emergencies
To Hold Fundraising Party March 21

The San Diego Advertising Fund for Emergencies (SAFE), a volunteer, non-profit organization that provides confidential financial assistance to local advertising and marketing professionals and their families facing a life crisis emergency, will host its 12th annual fundraising party from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 21 at the Ivy Rooftop Lounge atop the Andaz San Diego, 600 F St., in Downtown San Diego. The party will feature food, networking, entertainment and a silent auction to benefit SAFE grant recipients. Cost to attend is $50 per person, $30 per person for students, or $70 per person at the door. For tickets and more information, visit www.aboutsafe.org.

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The Daily Business Report is produced by SD METRO.

Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865. manny@sandiegometro.com.

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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.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: info@probolskyresearch.com