Daily Business Report-Oct. 7, 2013
3D Robotics Obtains Financing
To Boost Drone Commercialization
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle manufacturer 3D Robotics announced a $30 million Series B financing round to build its commercial drone business. The San Diego-based company makes aircraft that use open source software. As part of this funding round, 3D Robotics will expand its development and deployment of advanced UAV applications, with a focus on agricultural crop mapping and other commercial aerial survey technology, the company said. “The opportunity to bring ‘big data’ to agriculture through low-cost automated aerial crop surveys could be a game-changer for both farming and the UAV industry alike,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. “Adding UAVs to the precision agriculture toolkit of a 21st century farmer gives them the power to use imaging data to not only increase yield, but decrease water use and the chemical load in both food and environment.”
3D Robotics recently launched Iris, the company’s first ready-to-fly, fully-autonomous quadcopter for the consumer market. The lightweight vehicle can conduct hands-off missions and record high definition aerial video, bringing pro-level UAV features at an unprecedented sub-$1,000 price. Iris is now shipping to developers, with consumer sales to begin in November.
3D Robotics is a privately-held company with offices in Berkeley, San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.
Attorney: Taxpayers Could be on Hook
For Convention Center Expansion
The financing for the San Diego Convention Center expansion is being called into question in advance of the California Coastal Commission vote Thursday, KPBS reports. Coastal Commission staff already recommended against the plan because it will take away recreation space and views of the bay. But now attorney Cory Briggs says the plan’s financing is based on flimsy numbers. Briggs represents the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, a group concerned about coastal development, and San Diegans for Open Government.
The Convention Center expansion is estimated to cost $520 million. San Diego city officials have promised the expansion would not use any more than $3.5 million a year from the city’s general fund. But Briggs said that’s not true. Briggs said the plan underestimates the true cost by at least $33.5 million. Part of that comes from a $13.5 million increase in the price to buy land from a Port tenant called Fifth Avenue Landing. A November 2012 Independent Budget Analyst report mentions this price increase, but Briggs said the bump hasn’t been accounted for in the expansion plan’s projected cost. The plan also doesn’t cover a new kitchen facility, which Briggs said could cost between $20 and $40 million. “The estimates are based on guesses by the people at the city and the Port who really just want an expansion to help their political supporters, even though were at least $33.5 million over their own budget numbers,” Briggs said.
Mission Gorge Road Acreage Sold for Large Development
Archrock Development Group LLC has purchased a 10.2-acre site at 6850 Mission Gorge Road in San Diego for $26.4 million for construction of 444 multi-family residential units. The property would include six themed common courtyards, a fitness facility and pool. One-, two-, and three-bedroom units would be available. The sellers were Equity Residential and BlackRock. Cushman & Wakefield brokered the transaction.
Supervisors to Seek Military Aircraft to Help Fight Fires
County Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob will ask colleagues on the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to support a request to the Department of Defense to transfer seven C-27 military airplanes to the U.S. Forest Service to aid aerial firefighting in the county. Cox and Jacob said defense officials have declared many C-27J Spartans as excess, while the Forest Service is grappling with a shortage of air tankers and is looking to modernize its fleet. The C-27J operated in Afghanistan, but the Air Force planned this fall to retire the fleet. “Rather than end up in an airplane boneyard, these aircraft could serve the American public here on our home front, where the risk of wildfire always runs high,” said Jacob. “They would also add muscle to the region’s firefighting capabilities and allow the Forest Service to get an even bigger jump on backcountry fires before they get out of hand.”
Director Hired for City’s Public Utilities Department
Halla Razak, director of the Colorado River Program for the San Diego County Water Authority, has been hired as director of the city of San Diego Public Utilities Department, effective Nov. 12. Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, who announced the hiring, said he has asked Razak to serve as the city’s representative on the Water Authority board of directors. “Ms. Razak is well qualified to lead the department and oversee our critical water and wastewater systems,” said Gloria. Razak has spent nearly eight years with the County Water Authority and worked for the city for 18 years, most recently as chief deputy director for the Engineering and Capital Projects Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Dayton and a master’s degree in engineering from San Diego State University.
USD Receives Grant to Launch Suicide Prevention Program
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded a $300,000, three-year grant to the University of San Diego to launch a comprehensive suicide prevention program. The grant will allow the university to enhance and strengthen collaborations, trainings and other educational interventions, including increasing the awareness of mental health concerns, suicide risk and create environmental change on campus and beyond that promotes the overall health of the USD community.
AmericanWest Bank Completes Bank Branch Purchases
AmericanWest Bank announced that its purchase of eight Pacific Trust Bank branches has been completed. Included in the transactions were two Pacific Trust branches in Chula Vista, one branch in El Cajon and one branch in the Balboa/Clairemont area. AmericanWest Bank is based in Spokane, Wash. Its total assets now total $4.1 billion with 101 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.
Diverse Careers Sponsors Oct. 24 Job Fair
Job seekers and employers have been invited to participate in the San Diego Career Fair Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel San Diego/Mission Valley, 7450 Hazard Center Drive. The fair is sponsored by Diverse Careers Inc., a job board website and career fair management company. Participating companies include Auto Club of Southern California, Aflac, Farmers Insurance, National University, SeaWorld San Diego, The Art Institutes, The Pollakov Financial Group, Wells Fargo, and others.
Irwin Jacobs’ Vision Extends to New York
The din of construction will soon echo across New York’s Roosevelt Island, where Cornell University will build a $2 billion science and technology campus whose key financial backers include Qualcomm co-founder and philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, the U-T San Diego reports. Jacobs and his wife, Joan, are Cornell graduates. They have donated $133 million in seed money for Cornell Tech, which is being developed with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from Haifa, Israel.
Allison+Partners Adds Account Executive
Allison+Partners has added public relations account executive Julia Yuryev to its San Diego office. Yuryev, who is fluent in Russian, has served clients in consumer products, higher education, real estate, healthmcare, finance and manufacturing. Her previous experience includes working at two boutique agencies where she built her public relations writing, media relations and social media skills. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Kent State University.
Allison+Partners also announced the promotion of three staff members in San Diego. Jenny Corsey has been promoted to account director, Jeannie Horner to account manager and Annie Drury to senior account executive.
Light Up The Sky for Breast Cancer Set for Oct. 19
Light Up The Sky For Breast Cancer, a nationwide event, will be celebrated in San Diego at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Old Trolley Barn Park at Adams Avenue and Florida Street. Participants will launch pink-lighted devices into the sky in remembrance of breast cancer victims. Registration will be at 5 p.m. at the park, where pink lights will be available. The event is designed to occur simultaneously across the country. The sponsors are asking owners of buildings and theme parks to participate by lighting their facilities with pink lights and firing pink fireworks.