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Daily Business Report-Aug. 5, 2013

Daily Business Report-Aug. 5, 2013

San Diego County Farmers Grow A More Valuable Crop

Last year was a good year for many San Diego farmers as the value of crops grown in the county rose nearly 4 percent. It was also the first year since 2008 that the total acreage dedicated to farming increased. The 1 percent increase meant 3,000 more acres were farmed.

The county’s annual crop report finds ornamental trees and shrubs held the biggest slice of the county’s $1.75 billion agricultural bounty. That crop was worth $387 million. Nursery and cut flower products represent about 63 percent of the county’s farm products.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said the region’s farmers represent the fifth-largest segment of the local economy, and he was pleasantly surprised that the industry is doing well.

“A lot of people feel like, you know, San Diego is getting over developed,” he said. “And yeah, we are getting more and more people that are here, and yet it’s kind of interesting to see that we have a greater number of acres of farmland production here in San Diego County this year than we did last year.”

While the overall crop report was positive, not all farmers thrived. The value of the avocado crop was down sharply last year. Farm Bureau officials said high water prices forced many local growers to cut back the size of their avocado groves. (KPBS report)

Central San Diego’s Life Science Vacancy Rate Rises

The overall vacancy rate for life science space in central San Diego rose slightly in the second quarter and now stands at 12.2 percent, the highest point since fourth quarter 2010, reports CBRE San Diego in its latest life science report. Activity was soft for the quarter with only two transactions over 10,000 square feet. Inovio Pharmaceuticals leased 26,500 square feet in Sorrento Mesa and Avalon Ventures (Sova) inked a deal for16,409 square feet in Torrey Pines.

The uptick in vacancy is largely contributed to a number of available spaces becoming vacant. This also contributed to the negative absorption for the quarter. The report said vacancy rates are expected to remain fairly stable throughout 2013 and gradually decrease heading into 2014, with limited rollover and no new spec construction currently underway.

CBRE First Vice President Ryan Egli said tenants are continuing a flight to quality trend in the San Diego life science market with several key subgroups providing steady leasing activity. “We expect the life science leasing market to remain stable with moderate growth, mainly being driven by the device, diagnostic, genomics-related and industrial biotechnology sectors,” said Egli.

C.W. Driver Acquires San Diego’s Good & Roberts

C.W. Driver announced today that it has acquired Good & Roberts (G&R), a 34-year-old San Diego-based construction company. G&R will operate as a subsidiary, allowing C.W. Driver to expand into new markets and broaden its current San Diego market share, company officials said. Specific terms of the transaction were not disclosed. “This acquisition is an exciting opportunity for both companies,” said Joe Grosshart, regional vice president in C.W. Driver’s San Diego office. “Good & Roberts shares the same core values as C.W. Driver while serving their customers in a highly specialized market niche.”

Daily operations of Good & Roberts will remain unchanged and involve a gradual shift in management. Jack Good will remain with the company in his current capacity for the next five years. Joe Grosshart will assume the day to day management as president of Good & Roberts. After the management transition, Robb Good, who has served as the president of Good & Roberts for the last three years, will oversee technology advancements at C.W. Driver and its subsidiaries.

Jacobs School of Engineering Receives National Science Foundation Funding

The Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego has been selected as an Innovation Corps site by the National Science Foundation. The selection means the school will receive $300,000 in funding over the next three years to support developing entrepreneurs. The Innovation Corps program is designed to teach inventors how to evaluate the commercial opportunity of their research into commercially viable products and services. It will be led by the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center at the Jacobs School of Engineering. The program recognizes the need to bridge the funding gap often referred to as the “valley of death” between basic research and commercialization, a challenge the von Liebig Center has been helping faculty and students tackle since its founding in 2001.

Benefits and Risks of Drones and Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

USAF Drone

USAF Drone

The benefits, concerns, real risks and public safety of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles will be examined at an Aug. 7 program sponsored by the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology. It will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. “New technologies can raise challenging ethical dilemmas, and drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles are no exception,” the center said in announcing the program. “These aircraft may be autonomously operated by onboard computers or directed remotely by a human operator. UAVs are used for many purposes, ranging from crop dusting farmland to military operations. Speakers will be Lucien Miller, CEO of Innov8tive Designs in Vista; Keith McLellan, CEO of ROV Systems LLC in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; and Commander (Ret.) Bob Osborne, who served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Miller’s company distributes electric power systems for use in radio controlled model aircraft, helicopters and small UAVs. ROV Systems focuses on the innovative development of a variety of unmanned platforms for commercial use. Osborne began working on the acquisition and use of unmanned aircraft systems in 2008. He is currently a member of the Department of Homeland Security Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety Steering Committee. (For more program information, visit

Vista Industrial Building Sells for $5.6 Million

1081 Poinsettia Ave.

1081 Poinsettia Ave.

A 65,002-square-foot manufacturing facility in Vista has been sold for $5,562,500 to Brown Safe Manufacturing (B Group Holdings), which had been leasing the property before exercising an option to purchase it. The seller was Symphony Asset Pool XIV LLC. The building, located at 1081 Poinsettia Ave., was built in 2002 and occupies three acres. Some 85 percent of the space is industrial; the rest is office space. Cushman & Wakefield represented to buyer. The seller was represented by Colliers International.

Shea Homes to open five new home communities in San Diego

To meet the market demand for new homes, Shea Homes announced that it has five new home commuties in the construction pipeline in San Diego County. The projects will begin to roll out later this year and continue through spring 2014, the home builder said.


Lucent by Shea Homes

Lucent by Shea Homes

• Frame and Focus at Civita in Mission Valley: 64 attached townhomes (Frame) and 76 two-story attached row homes (Focus). Scheduled to open in Fall 2013.

• Beach House at Coral Cove,  Encinitas: 39 single-family detached homes reflecting California Craftsman and California Spanish architecture. Scheduled to open in winter 2013.

• Cabanas at Coral Cove, Encinitas: 30 two-story attached homes (including eight designated affordable units) in California Craftsman and California Spanish style architecture. Scheduled to open in winter 2013.

• Lucent at Civita in Mission Valley: two projects:  54 multi-family flats comprised of single-level homes and two-story penthouses with rooftop decks; and five three- or four-story Manhattan style lofts from 1,547 to 1,760 square feet.  Scheduled to open in winter 2013.

• Channel Island, Encinitas: 69 single-family detached homes styled in New Zealand/Hawaiian architecture. Scheduled to open in spring 2014.

Battery Maker PowerGenix Signs Contract With Peugeot Citroen

Nickel-zinc battery by PowerGenix

Nickel-zinc battery by PowerGenix

San Diego-based PowerGenix, which manufactures nickel-zinc batteries, has signed an innovation contract with PSA Peugeot Citroen Automobiles to evaluate the use of its nickel-zinc batteries as replacements for the lead-acid type in stop-start vehicles. Peugeot will conduct the evaluation. Stop-start vehicles are gasoline or diesel-powered cars with automatic, battery-powered stop-start systems that shut off the engine while the vehicle is at rest and restart it instantly and automatically upon re-engaging the gas pedal. They also go by the names of micro hybrids, idle stop vehicles or a variety of technologies branded by automakers.

“Peugeot has displayed impressive leadership in cutting emissions and adopting innovative technologies,” said Salil Soman, director of systems engineering at PowerGenix. “We look forward to working together over the coming months to fully adapt and integrate our NiZn batteries into their vehicles.”

Stop-start technology has already been widely deployed in Europe, where 70 percent of all vehicles sold by 2017 are expected to carry the system as a standard feature.

At completion of the contract, PowerGenix nickel-zinc batteries are expected to be fully tailored for Peugeot and ready for successful integration into vehicles, the company said.

SENTRE Partners Promotes Douglas Arthur to President

Douglas Arthur

Douglas Arthur

SENTRE Partners, a San Diego based commercial real estate investment and services firm, has promoted Douglas Arthur to president of the firm. Arthur, who joined the firm in 2004, will oversee the company’s investment and services platform and will continue in the company’s acquisitions, development and transactional services. He is a 2008 graduate of University of San Diego’s Masters in Real Estate program. The company’s managing principals are Stephen Williams, Matthew Spathas and Michael Peckham. (The name SENTRE is an acronym for Stewards and ENTrepreneurs of Real Estate.)

George Welch Chairs NewSchool of Architecture and Design Department

George Welch

George Welch

George Welch has been named chair of the construction management department at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design. He replaces Linda Thomas-Mobley, who was named dean of academic and student affairs at the school earlier this year. Welch worked with Thomas-Mobley to expand the department, serving as the construction management program coordinator. Welch worked in the design and construction business for more than 40 years.

La Jolla Institute Extends Partnership with Japan Pharmaceutical Firm

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology has extended its partnership with the California-based subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK), the Japanese specialty pharmaceutical company. The collaboration that began in 1988 combines the institute’s expertise in basic research with KHK’s drug discovery and development capabilities, allowing for the more rapid commercialization of new treatments.

San Diego Moves Up in Best Cities for Job Growth Report

Geography’s recently released study places San Diego on the 27th spot for the 2013 Best Cities for Job Growth among large cities, climbing up nine slots from the previous year. With job growth expected to continue in the information industry, it’s not surprising that San Diego also ranked 36th among large cities, moving up 20 spots on the Best Cities for information jobs list, according to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.


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