Daily Business Report-May 23, 2013
Downtown Arts and Entertainment Proposal Stalls
A proposed arts and entertainment district meant to enliven a 58-block section of Downtown San Diego north of Broadway stalled Wednesday in the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee, City News Service reports. Concerns were expressed over a lack of specifics included in a glitzy presentation to committee members, so backers were asked to do some fine-tuning and return at a later date. Since part of the concept is to have large, digital sign boards on the side of buildings within the district, committee members also worried about possible impacts on the city’s sign ordinance, which limits billboards in many areas of San Diego.
“I don’t think any council member, no matter how supportive they are of this proposal, wants to weaken the sign ordinance,” said committee member Todd Gloria, who is the council president and represents the area. Based on a memo from the City Attorney’s Office, the idea has to overcome a high legal threshold, he said.
District proponents, led by local public relations man Jeff Marston, said they would use entertainment, art, improved lighting and the large digital signs to spruce up an area that, at best, is quieter than the bustling Gaslamp District south of Broadway.
The district, bordered by Broadway to the south, Ash Street to the north, Front Street to the west and 10th Avenue to the east, would be administered by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. The area includes blighted C Street, the roadway used by the San Diego Trolley. Gloria said he doesn’t really know how to fix C Street now that redevelopment is no longer available as a revitalization tool.
San Diego’s LifeProof Company Acquired by OtterBox
TreeFrog Developments Inc. of San Diego, which goes by the name of LifeProof and makes protective cases and accessories for smart phones and tablets, has been acquired by Colorado-based OtterBox, which does the same business. “Much like OtterBox, LifeProof is a rapidly growing, multi-million dollar business with a strong global brand, comprehensive product offering, impressive intellectual property and thriving company culture,” the company said in a news release. “Over the next 30 days, OtterBox will begin incorporating the LifeProof brand into the OtterBox family.” OtterBox employs about 650 people worldwide. LifeProof has 250 employees, who will remain in San Diego, according to OtterBox. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Privileged World Travel Club Acquires Controlling Interest in San Diego’s Travel Marvelz
Privileged World Travel Club Inc. of Tiburon announced today that it signed a letter of intent to acquire controlling interest in Travel Marvelz of San Diego for an undisclosed amount. Privileged will purchase 60 percent of the common stock of the Marvelz issued and outstanding shares. “It is estimated that Travel Marvelz after the acquisition will increase its revenues from $3,000,000.00 annually by 10 times more, based on the projected signed contracts that have been executed and consummated by Privileged,” the company said in a release. Travel Marvelz has proprietary technology that includes a program that provides access to the Airlines Global Distribution System and a “Lower Fare Finder,” among others.
Citizens Weigh in on Mayor’s Proposed Budget
More than 300 people turned out Wednesday night to share their thoughts on Mayor Bob Filner’s proposed budget for the city of San Diego. People advocated for free bus passes for students, more bike lanes and increased library hours, reports KPBS. The meeting gave people the chance to weigh in on the latest version of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. A group from the City Heights advocacy organization Mid-City CAN asked the council to support free bus passes for students. The current budget includes this funding, but only as a one-time expense for the 2014 budget. One student told the council she needs a free pass to have better attendance in school. Sam Ollinger, the director of the advocacy group BikeSD, stressed the importance of sidewalks, bike lanes and streets. She said San Diegans need to be able to move around safely. Filner also presented revisions to his original budget proposal, which include an extra $13.6 million in revenue.
Study: Economic Impact of Summer Visitors Will be Big
During the 14 weeks between Memorial and Labor Day, more than 21 million visits will be made to San Diego County beaches and more than $450 million spent on everything from gas for the car to sunscreen and sand shovels, according to findings released today by the National University System Institute for Policy Research. The research pulled together several different studies and estimates and updated them to account for the recovering national economy and information from recent surveys of tourists and travelers. Key findings in the research include:
• On an average summer day more than 114,000 tourists will be visit San Diego County. That is more than the entire population of the city of Carlsbad and 45 percent increase over tourism levels the rest of the year seen during the non-summer months.
• Over the course of the next 14 weeks, NUSIPR forecasts that more than 21 million visits will be paid to the county’s beaches and coastline by both local residents and tourists to the region.
• $450 million will be spent by those beach goers, on everything from gasoline to get to the ocean, food, sand toys, and sunscreen.
• One-third of all hotel stays at county hotels and motels will occur between Memorial and Labor Day. In the city of San Diego, NUSIPR estimates that more than $52 million in Transient Occupancy Tax will be collected. This revenue pays for everything from police and fire services to grants to local performing arts organizations.
Institute President Erik Bruvold said, “Summer constitutes the most critical period for San Diego’s hospitality and coastal businesses. These numbers underscore just how important our coastline is, not just as the defining aspect of our region’s quality of life but as an engine of economic growth.”
Sapphire Energy Recruits Leading Engineer to Serve as its Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Matthew Croughan, a noted engineer and researcher in industrial bioprocessing, has been named chief technology officer of Sapphire Energy Inc. in San Diego, a leader in algae-based green crude oil production. Croughan most recently was director of the Amgen Bioprocessing Center at Keck Graduate Institute, a member of the Claremont Colleges Consortium. He has also served as a member of Sapphire Energy’s Scientific Advisory Board since June 2012. In the newly created role, Croughan will guide the company in its effort to refine and scale its technologies and algae-to-energy process as it moves towards commercial scale production of green crude oil. Croughan established the KGI Bioprocessing Center in 2006, and developed a unique program to recruit and educate the next generation of business leaders in bioprocessing.
UC San Diego Grad Student Wins Grant to ‘Outsmart Malaria’
The UC San Diego School of Medicine announced Wednesday that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Greg G. Goldgof, a graduate student in UC San Diego’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Medical Science Training Program, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled “Outsmarting Malaria: Developing next generation anti-malarials that prevent the evolution of drug resistance.” To receive funding, Goldgof and other Grand Challenges winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas. Goldgof works in the lab of Elizabeth Winzeler, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. The grant will support Goldgof’s work involves the use of genetically engineered yeast in the development of next-generation drugs that can successfully combat malaria.
S. D. Empowerment International Wins $5,000 Award
San Diego’s Women’s Empowerment International has won a $5,000 award from the Professional Liability Underwriting Society Foundation. The donation will primarily support the WE Center for STAR Women, which provides free technical support, business training and access to loans and grants to low-income and refugee women in San Diego, so they can start or expand a business. Located in City Heights, the center has helped a diversity of over 200 local businesses, including dressmaking, licensed child care, small retail businesses, catering, ethnic breads, imported fabrics and jewelry, and many others. The award ceremony was held on May 19 at the Poway home of WE co-founder Winifred Cox.
Veterans Counselor Honored by National Women’s Advocacy Group
Kathy Gilberd, a counselor for the Military Law Task Force in San Diego, has won an award from a national military women’s advocacy group, SWAN (Service Women’s Action Network), reports San Diego Free Press.
Gilberd, a long-time counselor for vets and others with problems in registration and draft issues, was flown back to Washington, D.C. to accept the award last month for being one of the “service providers of the year”for 2013, for her “outstanding pro bono legal service to veterans and service members.” SWAN was formed several years ago by ex-military women and supporters, and now is the lead national group doing work around women’s issues in the military, especially on sexual assaults and sexual harassment. The organization takes women’s cases, and also does lobbying and policy work, and public education.
Benefits of Home Energy Efficiency Offered at Open Houses
San Diego homeowners can learn about the cost-saving benefits of home energy efficiency during two open houses on Saturday, June 1, in Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo. The free demonstration home tours, sponsored by the nonprofit California Center for Sustainable Energy, will be held at 11415 Scripps Lake Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at 12448 Greens East Road from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
New CEO Named for Social Advocates for Youth
Nancy Gannon Hornberger has been named CEO of Social Advocates for Youth (SAY San Diego) to succeed longtime CEO Michael Carr, who is retiring in October. Gannon Hornberger currently serves as executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, which is the national association of state advisers on juvenile justice appointed by the governors/chief executives of all states, territories and the District of Columbia. Gannon Hornberger is widely recognized for her expertise in youth violence prevention, delinquency prevention and juvenile justice and is a policy advocate at the state and congressional levels.
San Diego to Host Desalination Group’s World Congress
The International Desalination Association has selected the San Diego Convention Center as the location for its 2015 World Congress. It will be the first time since 1999 that the event, widely considered the premiere global event focused on desalination and water reuse, will be held in North America. The event is scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2015.
Jack in the Box Promotes Elana Hobson
Elana “Lani” Hobson has been promoted to senior vice president of operations for Jack in the Box Inc. Hobson, a 36-year veteran of the company, was vp of operations. Hobson joined Jack in the Box in 1977 at a restaurant in Hayward, Calif. She relocated to the company’s corporate offices in San Diego as Division Vice President of Guest Service Systems, and in 2009, was promoted to Division Vice President, Operations Initiatives.