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Daily Business Report-Jan. 15, 2015

Daily Business Report-Jan. 15, 2015

ViaSat-1 earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-capacity satellite in (or out) of the world, but may have to hand off the title to ViaSat-2, the next-generation bird, which will double the capacity of its predecessor.

ViaSat Selects SpaceX to Launch

Next Generation Broadband Satellite

ViaSat Inc. is taking another step forward in the transformation of satellite broadband with the selection of SpaceX to launch ViaSat-2, the next generation of high-capacity broadband satellite. ViaSat-2 is scheduled for a late summer 2016 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket, with the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next closest launch vehicle at only one-third the cost.

ViaSat Chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg

ViaSat Chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg

Falcon Heavy is an evolution of the flight-proven Falcon 9 that is used to launch commercial satellites as well as cargo missions to the International Space Station.

Beginning with ViaSat-1, ViaSat began a transformation of satellite communications into a network technology that can provide high-performance services competitive with terrestrial alternatives, rather than being merely a last resort. ViaSat-2 is designed to provide another leap ahead in broadband service quality for residential, mobile, and enterprise satellite services.

“One of the primary objectives for ViaSat-2, beyond higher speeds, is to offer more data with all of our service plans. That’s what customers want from any wireless service,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO. “We can do that by building a network with lots more network capacity at a cost that will attract more customers, and that’s what this new class of satellite is designed to do.”

ViaSat-2 is expected to cover seven times the geographic area and offer twice the bandwidth economics advantage of ViaSat-1, which is already the highest capacity satellite in the world. Planned coverage includes North America, Central America, and the Caribbean basin. The satellite will also provide a bridge of coverage across the North Atlantic, connecting North America with high-capacity coverage in the UK and Europe for high-speed in-flight internet and other mobile services.

Now under construction by Boeing, ViaSat-2 will become the fourth satellite in the ViaSat fleet.

The scrolling marquee outside the Balboa Theatre in the Gaslamp District. (Photo by Chris Jennewein)

The scrolling marquee outside the Balboa Theatre in the Gaslamp District. (Photo by Chris Jennewein)

Mayor Vows Plan for New Stadium to Keep Chargers

And to Find Way to Expand the Convention Center

Mayor Kevin Faulconer vowed Wednesday to deliver a plan for a new football stadium by the fall and also find a way to expand the San Diego convention center.

Delivering his first “State of the City” address, Faulconer said he would assemble a group of civic leaders to recommend a location either in Mission Valley or Downtown and a financing plan that is “a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers.” He said he would then seek voter approval.

“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers  moving to Los Angeles been more real,” he said. “When the next season ends, we’ll be talking about the proposal to keep them here where they belong.”

The mayor spoke to a capacity crowd of over 1,300 at the historic Balboa Theatre. Local and state government leaders, military officers, business leaders and educators were in attendance. Some of the crowd overflowed to the U.S Grant Hotel, where there was a video hookup.

“Both the stadium and convention center are vital to San Diego,” he said. “Together or separately, we can get both done.”

Faulconer’s wide-ranging, 40-minute speech covered topics from street repair and homeless shelters to managed competition and immigration.

Among the highlights:

• Street repair will be the high priority in 2015, and he promised improvements to 1,000 miles. “We’re going to solve some of San Diego’s biggest challenges, and we’re going to start by fixing our streets,” he said.

• Building permanent homeless shelters is important because “San Diegans deserve more than a temporary tent when it’s cold outside.”

• His emphasis on “One San Diego” is delivering results. “If you treat people with respect, you can always find solutions. It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican,” he said.

• Managed competition will help San Diego save money, avoid future financial problems and invest more in neighborhoods.

• San Diego will strengthen its ties with “our partners in Baja California,” and he will meet regularly with his counterpart in Tijuana.

• Under new Chief Shelley Zimmerman, the police department has become “a shining example of community partnership” but still suffers from a recruitment and retention challenges.

Though Faulconer is a Republican, he veered from that party’s mainstream on immigration and climate change. He urged Congress to pass “comperehensive immigration reform that will benefit San Diego.” And he committed to making San Diego the “green-energy capital of the world” and create a “sustainable tomorrow” for residents.

“After a decade of crises and crashes, San Diego is writing a comeback story,” he said.

— Times of San Diego

Councilmen Todd Gloria and David Alvarez:

‘The Mayor Missed an Opportunity’ 

“In a speech about opportunity, the mayor missed an opportunity tonight, said Councilmen Todd Gloria and David Alvarez in a prepared statement following the State of the City Address:

“San Diegans needed to hear that the city is going to stop hemorrhaging police officers to other jurisdictions. We needed to hear a comprehensive solution to our entire $3 billion infrastructure problem, and we needed to hear that he was going to help more San Diegans make ends meet.

“Since the mayor is not offering solutions, we will work together on several measures to address the real challenges facing the city, including stabilizing the San Diego Police Department to allow officers to again focus on community policing, encouraging small business growth through appropriate city investment, and ensuring the city is supporting the education of local youth with appropriate programming and services.

“On the same day of these State of the City promises, the Independent Budget Analyst released a report stating that the city will be $96.4 million behind the amount the Mayor has proposed for infrastructure expenditures. This should be a wake-up call for all San Diegans. City streets won’t get fixed and fire stations, parks and libraries will be further delayed without a more significant commitment from this administration.

“San Diego must dare to be great. We look forward to working with Mayor Faulconer and our City Council colleagues to deliver real results in the year ahead on the issues that truly impact San Diegans.”

A rendering of the $4.4 million Mission Fed JA Finance Park

A rendering of the $4.4 million Mission Fed JA Finance Park

New Mission Fed, JA Finance Park

Aims to Help Teens Learn Finance

Construction has started on the new $4.4 million Mission Fed JA Finance Park, an interactive learning campus where high school students will learn how to make intelligent financial decisions. A groundbreaking ceremony was set for today at the Capdevilla Gillespie Center for Junior Achievement at 4756 Mission Gorge Place, San Diego.

Designed by Gensler, the 6,300-square-foot, high-tech facility takes “reality-based” learning to a new level by placing students in authentic, tangible, real-world scenarios, where they take control of their financial decisions.

“High schools aren’t always able to offer the types of economics courses that help students learn to budget their money,” said Angie Lasagna, vice president of community relations for Mission Fed. “That is where Mission Fed JA Finance Park can play a key role.”  She said the curriculum at the park better prepares millennials for financial success through the technology they’ve become accustomed to using on a daily basis. On average, she said, 44 percent of teens look at their phones more than six times an hour.

The Mission Fed JA Finance Park will feature three specialized areas and a new outdoor terrace:

• The Situation Room: Each student will receive a unique “life-situation” of their adult life to include job, salary, age, marital status, FICO score and monthly taxes. The room will feature state-of-the-art technology, such as a “Tablet Wall” and large “Green Screen” for video production.

• Shops in the Park:  After students received their life situation, they have to make the best choices for their “family” based on their “income.”  This starts by visiting the “Circle of Life.”  There will be 14 shops and five freestanding kiosks, where students have to buy a car, shop for groceries, purchase a home, establish a savings account, make investments and donate to charity.

• Career Center:  The Career Center will be home to a digital database of lectures, salaries, job openings and tools to help students plan for a successful future in their field, beyond their one-day park experience.

• Outdoor Terrace:  The spacious patio area will consist of several large decks and terraced steps for comfortable seating and lunch.

The Balfour Beatty Construction team and 28 different trade contractors are involved in the construction of the park, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

Scripps Doctors First in S.D. County to

Implant Wireless Heart Failure Monitor

Doctors at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla are the first in San Diego County to implant a new miniaturized wireless sensor directly into the heart of patients to manage heart failure. The CardioMEMS HF System is the first and only FDA-approved heart failure monitoring device proven to significantly reduce hospital admissions when used by physicians to manage heart failure.

The system features a sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery during a non-surgical procedure to directly measure pulmonary artery pressure. Increased artery pressures appear first, before weight and blood pressure changes that are often used as indirect measures of worsening heart failure. The new system allows patients to transmit daily sensor readings from their homes to their health care providers, allowing for personalized and proactive management to reduce the likelihood of hospitalization.

Home for sale signs

Home for sale signs

Home Prices Rose 4.8 Percent in December

The median price of a home in San Diego County rose by 4.8 percent in December, compared with the same month a year ago, while the number of homes sold jumped by 6.2 percent, a real estate information service announced Wednesday.

According to CoreLogic DataQuick, the median price of a San Diego County home was $440,000 last month, up from $420,000 in December 2013. A total of 3,290 homes were sold in the county, up from 3,099 during the same month the previous year.

A total of 19,205 new and resale houses and condos changed hands in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. That was up 22.8 percent from 15,643 in November and up 4.3 percent from 18,415 in December 2013.

The median price for a Southern California home was $415,000 in December, up 0.7 percent from $412,000 in November and up 5.1 percent from $395,000 in December 2013.

“One month doesn’t make a trend, but December’s uptick in home sales might indicate renewed interest in housing thanks to lower mortgage rates and job growth in recent months,” said Andrew LePage, CoreLogic DataQuick analyst. “The gain came despite a continued decline in the share of homes sold to investors and cash buyers. If demand continues to build we’ll need more supply to keep up with it. One of the big questions hanging over the housing market is whether higher demand and home values will lead to a lot more people listing their homes for sale, as well as more new-home construction, which remains well below average.”

— City News Service

City Heights Community Law Project Receives

Grant from Price Philanthropies Foundation

California Western School of Law’s Community Law Project has received a $21,500 grant for its legal clinic in City Heights from the Price Philanthropies Foundation.

The Community Law Project provides free legal information in a variety of areas to low-income residents. In City Heights, the project offers free weekly clinics at Hoover High School and Rosa Parks Elementary.

“The California Western Community Law Project at City Heights is thrilled to be supported by Price Philanthropies in its ongoing work to help the underserved community in City Heights,” said California Western Associate Dean for Experiential Leaning Linda H. Morton. “The grant will aid in delivering critical legal and educational services to the City Heights population, and will provide California Western students the opportunity to experience the rewards of helping those in need.”

The Community Law Projects provide free legal information through clinics in City Heights, Downtown, and Lemon Grove. Law students work one-on-one with clients and volunteer attorneys in a variety of legal areas, according to their interests. This unique opportunity allows volunteer students to experience the benefits of helping those in need while learning essential lawyering skills from experienced practitioners.

Automated Passport Control

Kiosks Unveiled at Lindbergh Field

 Automated Passport Control kiosk

Automated Passport Control kiosk

Eight new Automated Passport Control kiosks were introduced at San Diego International Airport on Wednesday, which allow passengers to submit their customs declarations and personal information electronically.

The airport joins 30 other airports around the world that are using the self-service kiosks, which will expedite the re-entry process for U.S., Canadian and eligible Visa Waver Program international travelers.

“San Diego International Airport welcomes nearly 30,000 arriving international passengers each month,” said Thella F. Bowens, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “Now, for many of those passengers, getting through Customs will be much easier and quicker.”

The kiosks generally reduce processing times by 25 to 40 percent.

“This technology will help our officers efficiently process an ever-growing volume of international travelers,” said Bill Snyder, port director, Port of San Diego, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “The kiosks are designed to reduce wait times and congestion in the Federal Inspection Services area while maintaining the highest standards of security.”

While similar in nature to the Global Entry kiosks installed at the airport in 2012, these new kiosks do not require pre-registration or membership.

The kiosks offer easy instructions for scanning passports, allowing the kiosk to take photos and answering customs declarations questions on the touch screen. The kiosks print a receipt which must be shown to a CBP officer upon exit.

Merck & Co. Partnering

With Moderna Therapeutics

Merck & Co. is partnering with Moderna Therapeutics to develop antiviral vaccines and passive immunity therapies based on Moderna’s modified messenger-RNA technology. The three-year research deal could generate up to $100 million-plus for Moderna and raise the company’s partners and investors to more than half-million dollars in the new year.

The collaboration with Merck includes the possibility of a one-year extension. The partnership will focus on the development of five product candidates — new mRNA-based treatments and vaccines — against four undisclosed viruses.

Merck will lead the discovery and development of candidates and commercialization of any products resulting from this license and collaboration agreement. Merck has agreed to pay $50 million upfront toward licenses to access Moderna’s technology, and will make a $50 million equity investment in the biotech. Moderna will be eligible for undisclosed per-product development and commercial milestones under the license as well as tiered royalties on commercial sales.

Port Approves Funding for Environmental Education

The Board of Port Commissioners has approved spending $384,024 to provide environmental education to more than 21,000 students within the San Diego Bay watershed.

The fund will be provided by the port’s environmental fund and will pay for environmental education from six organizations: I Love a Clean San Diego, The Ocean Foundation, Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek, San Diego Coastkeeper, Ocean Discovery Institute and Living Coast Discovery Center.

The educational programs are to focus on San Diego Bay and its natural resources, endangered species, pollution prevention, energy and water conservation, improvements to sediment and water quality, habitat restoration, and stormwater and watershed protection.

The programs also must be directed to kindergarten through 12th grade students.

SmartDrive Systems Announces Business Expansion

SmartDrive Systems, a San Diego-based company that offers a video-based program that helps commercial vehicles and transit agencies to avoid unsafe driving habits and to prevent accidents, announced a record fiscal third quarter with greater than 130 percent growth over the same period last year.

The company attributes its progress to continued product innovation, strategic partnerships and customer acquisitions across a number of key vertical markets. In 2014 alone, its customer base has grown by 45 percent, said Steve Mitgang, CEO.

The company, launched in 2004, serves transit agencies and private fleets, enabling fleet managers to take control of operational costs while improving safety. Its open data platform identifies driving risk, captures video, vehicle, audio and driving data and automatically offloads that video for review by driving experts. To-date, SmartDrive’s database has captured and analyzed more than 80 million risky driving events, according to Mitgang.


Personnel Moves

Gable PR Promotes 3 Staffers

Emily Forgeron

Emily Forgeron

Katelyn O’Riordan

Katelyn O’Riordan

Paige Nordeen

Paige Nordeen

Gable PR announced the promotions of  Emily Forgeron to vice president, Katelyn O’Riordan to senior account executive and Paige Nordeen to account executive.

Forgeron has been a member of the Gable PR team since August 2011 and had served as director of public relations for all Gable PR accounts. She will take on additional new business development and agency management responsibilities in her new role. Forgeron has more than 16 year of experience on the agency side and in corporate, in-house environments. Prior to joining Gable PR, she served as an account manager at Porter Novelli.

O’Riordan joined Gable PR in November 2011 and worked on launching creative PR campaigns, event management, and securing local and national print, online and broadcast coverage for clients, including AT&T, Bridgepoint Education’s academic institutions and Renovation Realty. In her new role, O’Riordan will take on additional client and media relations, and new business development.

Nordeen joined Gable PR in July 2012 and has supported agency teams on a range of clients, including AT&T, Guild Mortgage and San Diego nonprofit organizations with research, media relations, writing and social media. She will take on additional account management, writing, media relations and event management responsibilities for clients.

Tom Gable is CEO of the firm.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack Promotes 3 to Partner

Loren Freestone

Loren Freestone

AnneElise Goetz

AnneElise Goetz

Jason Ross

Jason Ross

Higgs Fletcher & Mack announced the promotion of Loren Freestone, AnneElise Goetz and Jason Ross to partner at the San Diego-based law firm.

Their advancement brings the organization’s partner total to 49.

Freestone has been at Higgs for 12 years, holds more than 16 years of experience and is a member of the firm’s business litigation and employment practice. He represents and advises large and small employers, corporations, health care practitioners and companies in complex civil business disputes, litigation and trial.

Goetz joined Higgs in 2011 and is a corporate transactional attorney specializing in real estate and health care law. Her work ranges from complex, multi-million dollar real estate acquisitions to representing local family-owned companies in contract negotiations. She is a past Chair of the Leadership Development Committee in Lawyers Club.

Ross has been at Higgs for nearly seven years, and his practice primarily involves defending businesses and employers in complex business, employment, and class action litigation. He represents employers in employment litigation, including claims for wrongful termination, discrimination, and harassment, amongst others.

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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: