Daily Business Report-Oct. 11, 2013
Convention Center Expansion Wins
Coastal Commission Approval
Pending litigation challenging the financing plan could delay project
The $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center won unanimous approval from the California Coastal Commission on Thursday, despite recommendations from its staff that it would harm access to San Diego Bay.
The approval stood as the last permitting requirement for the convention expansion project to move forward. Although the project’s financing has been ruled legal, that ruling is under appeal and could delay the anticipated start of construction in late 2014 with completion in 2018.
Upon completion, the expansion will include an additional 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, creating the largest contiguous exhibit hall on the west coast, an 80,000-square-foot ballroom, five-acre rooftop park and 500-room addition to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. “The proposed project is a regionally-significant, environmentally-sustainable project that will benefit meeting planners, attendees and locals alike,” backers said.
The expansion was deemed necessary in order to keep large conventions like Comic-Con, which attract millions of dollars in hotel tax revenues.
The commission hearing attracted a throng of supporters, including local elected officials and business and labor leader. A small group of opponents agreed with the commission’s staff.
“I am thrilled with today’s approval and want to thank everybody who has been supporting this project. Many of our clients who have been outgrowing the current facility will now be able to book well into the future,” said Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.
With the expansion now ready to move forward, questions linger about a competing project from the San Diego Chargers, which had opposed the city project and instead proposed incorporating convention facilities in a new stadium six blocks away in Downtown’s East Village, the U-T San Diego reports. Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani remained unyielding following the vote. “The result is no surprise, given the influence of the powerful groups supporting the project,” he said in a statement. “Still, it was disappointing to see the Coastal Commission ignore its own staff’s recommendation, and now attention will turn to an appeals court ruling on the legally dubious tax that was invented to pay for all of this.”
Major San Diego Mayor Candidates to Appear at Oct. 24 Forum
The four major candidates for San Diego mayor will discuss land use, neighborhoods and urban planning and design during a public forum Oct. 24 from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at the Wyndham Hotel, 1355 N. Harbor Drive, in Downtown. The Breakfast Dialogue is sponsored by Citizen’s Coordinate for Century 3. Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, Councilman David Alvarez, Councilman Kevin Faulconer and former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher will participate. Gene Cubbison, political reporter for NBC 7/39, will be the moderator.
The forum’s topics will stimulate discussion on urban design and development and how each would move forward a neighborhood focus. Each of the mayoral candidates will in advance receive a copy of C-3’s recently published “Sustainable Paradise,” which delineates the organization’s “vision for the future of the San Diego/Tijuana Metropolitan region.”
Tickets (including continental breakfast) are $25 for C-3 members and $35 for nonmembers. For reservations, visit www.c3sandiego.org or call (858) 277-0900.
Carlsbad Firm Working on Building Robot Capable
Of Working with Soldiers, Firefighters and Others
5D Robotics Inc. of Carlsbad and Charles River Analytics have been awarded a $100,000 research and development contract by the Small Business Innovation Research program to create an autonomous robot that can interact with humans as a team member by physically following its teammates and reacting to visual and gestured commands. The project is called Multinodal Interface for Natural Operator Teaming with Autonomous Robots — or Minotaur.
Under the program, 5D Robotics will integrate its proprietary 5D Behavior Engine, including its “Follow Me” and “Guarded Motion” capabilities, with Charles River’s vision-based tracking and gesture recognition technology to process specific commands. The company said 5D software enables any robot to autonomously follow its teammates through complex environments while avoiding collision with people or objects. “Integrating Charles River’s visual recognition technology means the robot can now take cues from its human teammates and follow directions autonomously,” the company said in a release. “Similar to how soldiers, police, and firefighters might get visual cues from their teammates via hand signals, the Minotaur project will enable those same recognition and response behaviors in robots.”
Future commercialization, the company said, could mean human-robot teams in a variety of sectors including law enforcement and emergency response, with later applications in senior care support and hospitality.
New Chancellor Named for National University System
Michael R. Cunningham has been named Chancellor of the National University System, succeeding Jerry C. Lee, who has retired. Cunningham joined the National University System on July 1 as president of its flagship institution, National University. He added the responsibilities of chief operating officer on Sept. 1, and will continue to serve as president of National University. Cunningham came to the university from San Diego State, where he had been dean of the College of Business Administration. Cunningham had been teaching strategy and entrepreneurship courses at SDSU, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and New York University.
National University Named Title Sponsor of 2013 Holiday Bowl
National University has been named the title sponsor of the 2013 Holiday Bowl, bowl president Bill Geppert announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The National University Holiday Bowl, as it will be known, celebrates its 36th game this year when it pairs teams from the Pac-12 and Big 12 Conferences. The game is set for Monday, Dec. 30, with a 7:15 p.m. kickoff at Qualcomm Stadium and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Bridgepoint Education was title sponsor of last year’s Holiday Bowl.
City, Mesa and Miramar Colleges to Share $3 Million
The San Diego Community College District will receive nearly $3 million to boost student success and completion at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges — more than double the amount the colleges received in 2012-13. The funds are being made available by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and will support additional counselors and advisers, orientation programs, and assessment efforts. Of the $2,978,736 total, City College will receive $914,362; Mesa College $1,341,084; and Miramar College $723,290. The funds, based on enrollment and matriculation numbers, will be used this academic year to serve the 25,000 new students expected at the three colleges. The colleges have agreed to match the funds on a 3 to 1 basis.
Research Gives Hope in Fight Against Drug Resistance
New UC San Diego research findings could have a major impact in the struggle against drug resistance. By tinkering with their chemical structures, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have essentially re-invented a class of popular antimicrobial drugs, restoring and in some cases, expanding or improving, their effectiveness against drug-resistant pathogens in animal models. The potential for combating drug resistance is highly significant as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated at least 2 million Americans fall ill to antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, with at least 23,000 dying as a direct result of those infections.
Writing in the Oct. 7 Early Edition of PNAS, Lars Eckmann, professor of medicine, and colleagues describe creating more than 650 new compounds by slightly altering structural elements of metronidazole and other 5-nitromidazoles, a half-century-old class of antimicrobial drugs used to combat everything from an ulcer-causing stomach bacterium to a gut-churning protozoan found in contaminated water.
FDA Approves Sotera Wireless Device
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared Sotera Wireless’s patented continuous non-invasive blood pressure technology (cNIBP). The technology is a new feature of the ViSi Mobile wireless patient monitoring system that allows clinicians, for the first time, to continuously monitor all patient vital signs. Physicians can use cNIBP measurements to better manage patients with hypertension, which affects 67 million, or one in three, American adults.
“Blood pressure is one of the most important vital signs and yet it is considerably undervalued, largely because most clinicians are limited to periodic cuff-based measurements,” said Tom Watlington, Sotera chief executive officer. “By providing data collected around the clock without disrupting a patient’s sleep, we believe the ViSi Mobile System with cNIBP will help improve diagnosis and management of hypertension, saving lives and dollars.”
Local United Way Chosen for a Nationwide Initiative
United Way of San Diego County has been chosen as one of only six United Way programs to be part of a nationwide “Collective Impact” initiative funded by a $1 million donation from Target. The announcement was made by United Way Worldwide and the national Strive Network. Each United Way will partner with a successful Strive member. San Diego will work with the flagship site in Cincinnati. The local United Way will receive a year of strategic coaching and support from United Way Worldwide and Strive for its multiple collective impact efforts, where all partners use the same data, benchmarks and goals – and ultimately, work together to ensure students’ success.
Philip Linton Joins CBRE
Phillip Linton has joined the UTC office of CBRE as first vice president, focusing on owner-occupied office and industrial properties. Linton was with Cassidy Turley, where he negotiated the sale of more than 200 properties, including the 200,000-square-foot South Bay Corporate Center in National City. He received his education at the University of Vermont and Brooklyn Law School.
Arctic Research Suspended Under Government Shutdown
Effects of the government shutdown are being felt far beyond U.S. borders — as far as Antarctica, in fact. With funding uncertain and furloughs in effect, the National Science Foundation has suspended research expeditions to its three Antarctic bases, KPBS reports. For researchers studying this remote part of the world, the timing of the government shutdown couldn’t be worse. Antarctica’s warm season is just around the corner. It’s the time of year when scientists typically begin flocking south for their one annual shot at conducting important field work on a U.S. research base.
But without government employees to keep these bases up and running, research can’t move forward. “Those people make our science possible,” said Matthew Siegfried, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. He expected to be part of a December expedition that now faces cancellation if Congress doesn’t reach a compromise to reopen the government by early next week.
Siegfried has been spending the holidays at McMurdo station for the past two years, maintaining remote GPS equipment and retrieving data on subglacial lakes under the supervision of Scripps glaciologist Helen Fricker. But this year, the Scripps scientists have been told that the project they’re working on is suspended for now. If Siegfried’s trip does end up getting canceled, it would have to be pushed back a full year. And by then, he says crucial data could be permanently lost.