Daily Business Report-May 3, 2013
Improving Jobs Picture Fuels Increase in Economic Index
A rapidly improving jobs picture fueled a 0.3 percent increase in March of the University of San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, Professor Alan Gin said Thursday. The professor said gains in the number of housing permits issued and local stock performance also helped. Consumer confidence and the outlook for the national economy were down slightly, he said. “With March’s increase, the outlook remains for good growth in the local economy through the end of 2013,” Gin said. “For the first quarter of 2013, nonfarm wage and salary employment was up more than 31,000 jobs compared to the same period in 2012, the strongest pace of job growth since 2000.”
The index stood at 125.1 in March, the highest since a 126.1 reading in January 2008. The March uptick was the seventh in a row. Along with unemployment being at its lowest level in five years, the number of help-wanted advertisements has increased for the 26th time in 27 months, according to the professor. Gin said the number of building permits for residential housing issued by local governments in the first quarter of this year was up 45 percent over the same period in 2012. Increases for both single-family houses and multi-family construction were strong, he said. The value of local stocks jumped nearly 15 percent in the first quarter of this year, beating the overall market, according to Gin. (City News Service Report)
Soda Tax Has Some Fizz in State Senate
A measure aimed at reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity is making its way through the California state Senate, KPBS reports. The bill would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary drinks. Milk products and beverages containing more than 50 percent juice would be exempt. Supporters of the tax, authored by state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), say soft drinks are a major contributor to childhood obesity. Reports show nearly one-third of all 5th and 7th graders in San Diego are overweight or obese. The tax would generate more than $1.5 billion dollars each year in California, supporters say. The money would be earmarked for community and statewide obesity prevention efforts. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say a soda tax could cut consumption by up to 10 percent. They suggest the tax might also prompt manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their drinks. The tax won’t be approved at all if the soft drink industry has its way. The industry spent millions to defeat recent soda tax measures in the California cities of Richmond and El Monte.
Chula Vista Settles Cell Phone Tax Lawsuit for $8 Million
The city of Chula Vista has settled a class action lawsuit brought by cell phone users who said they were illegally taxed by the city for years, Voice of San Diego reports. Under the settlement, which was approved by a San Diego court, the city must pay $8 million in rebates and refunds to cell phone users who were taxed, plus legal fees. The city of Chula Vista maintains that the tax is legal. “We disagree that certain aspects of the tax are unlawful, but, because the issues are complex and continued litigation would be expensive, the city believes it is in the best interest of its citizens to settle the case,” said Anne Steinberger, a spokeswoman for the city. Residents of Chula Vista have been mailed notifications this week that will tell them how to claim a cash refund from the settlement, said Jeremy Robinson, one of the lawyers who sued the city. Recipients will have to fill out a claim form to prove they’re eligible for a repayment. If so, they have the choice of a $35 flat rebate; a $50 payment for every year they paid the tax, up to $150, (if they can prove they paid it) or an estimated full refund from the period April 2010 to April 2013. Claims must be made in the next 90 days.
Council President Gloria Announces Support for Mayor’s Plan to Remove Cars from Plaza de Panama
City Council President Todd Gloria says he can support Mayor Bob Filner’s request for $300,000 in the fiscal 2014 city budget to remove cars from the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park. However, added Gloria, “I would like to know more about how the likely impacts would be mitigated, and I encourage the mayor to seriously consider any suggestions that will help smooth the transition to the temporary plan.” The mayor proposed the Plaza de Panama project as part of the Park and Recreation Department budget, which will be discussed at the City Council’s Budget Review hearing at 2 p.m. on Monday on the 12th floor of the City Administration Building. Gloria said he will work with the mayor, Balboa Park stakeholders and surrounding communities to make sure the project is successful, should it be funded in the budget.
Japan Fair Trade Commission Clears ASML Acquisition of Cymer
ASML Holding NV of Amsterdam and Cymer Inc. announce that the Japan Fair Trade Commission has cleared the previously announced merger between Cymer and affiliates of ASML. Clearance of the merger has previously been granted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States as well as the Taiwanese, German and Israeli antitrust authorities. Cymer stockholders have approved the merger agreement. ASML is a provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry. Cymer is an industry leader in developing lithography light sources used by chipmakers to pattern advanced semiconductor chips. Under the deal, ASML will manage Cymer as an independent business unit in commercial hardware sales and service activities.
Federal Contract Awards
GKN Aerospace Chem-Tronics Inc. in El Cajon won a $4,098,729 federal contract from the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., for engines, turbines and components.
Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. in San Diego won a $461,682 federal contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., for helicopter rotor blades, drive mechanisms and components.
K.W. Pommier & Associates Inc. dba Audiometrics of Oceanside won a $75,992.66 federal contract from the U.S. Army, Tacoma, Wash., for the supply and installation of audiometric booth.
Pacific Maritime Industries Corp. of San Diego, won a $49,590 federal contract from the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center, Columbus, Ohio, for straight chairs.
Dion International Trucks LLC of San Diego won a $30,000 federal contract from the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center, Columbus, Ohio, for shoe type brakes.
Navy’s Newest Squadron Puts Manned and Unmanned Aircraft Side-by-Side
Story and Photos by Tarryn Mento | KPBS
Back when Vice Adm. David Buss started his military career in 1978, the idea of unmanned aircraft operating alongside conventional aircraft sounded like something out of a George Lucas film.
“I would have really called that very Star Wars like but we are there today,” Buss said.
Indeed, at the North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, officials welcomed a first-of-its-kind helicopter squadron featuring the FireScout, a remotely piloted vehicle. The FireScout is bigger than a smart car but not as wide as a sports car and has four 15-foot blades on top. The squadron is set to deploy next year to the Western Pacific.
For now, pilots like Lt. Kevin Shikuma will train to operate the FireScout system, so they are fluent in both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
“The UAV can stay up for a lot longer than the average pilot can and in this fiscal environment, it’s a lot cheaper to operate a unmanned drone that burns a lot of gas than say this large aircraft that takes a lot more gas and maintenance man hours,” Shikuma said.
Beyond saving some gas and money, Squadron Commander Chris Hewlett said the FireScout can be crucial in assisting larger manned aircraft on missions.
“If they had made contact while they were out flying around and the crew needed to swap out, we could send the FireScout out and that FireScout would dwell on the contact of interest…,” Hewlett said.
The squadron will deploy on the USS Fort Worth, further expanding the Navy’s reach. It’s a littoral combat ship that can operate in areas where larger ships can’t.