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Daily Business Report-April 1, 2015

Daily Business Report-April 1, 2015

The new Nuffer, Smith, Tucker PR firm now includes staff from the Gable PR firm.

PR Competitors No Longer

It would be a good April Fool’s Day joke to say that two of San Diego’s largest public relations firms — Nuffer, Smith, Tucker PR and Gable PR —

would be merging after years of competition.

But it is no joke.

The two longtime companies — NST since 1974 and Gable since 1976 — announced their merger, effective today.

The combined firm will operate under the Nuffer, Smith Tucker name at its office at 4045 Third Ave. in Downtown San Diego.

The merged company will have 26 professionals and annual billings of more than $3.5 million.

Bill Trumpfheller

Bill Trumpfheller

“We started talking about joining forces last year to pursue several large contracts where our complementary areas of expertise could make a difference for the client,” said Bill Trumpfheller, president of NST. “Evolving client needs and opportunities in new and emerging markets led us to explore the benefits of bringing the two firms together. It all added up. We are very pleased to announce the merger and enter a new era of growth with unequaled capabilities and expertise for our clients.”

NST opened on April 1, 1974, and over four decades has partnered with or represented many of San Diego’s most notable brands and organizations locally, nationally and internationally — including WD-40 Company, Chicken of the Sea, Sony Electronics, McDonald’s, San Diego Zoo, San Diego State University and others.

“NST has a strong history in consumer PR and we were impressed with their digital and web development capabilities, public affairs expertise, and growing binational practice,” said Tom Gable, CEO and founder of Gable PR. “Our clients will benefit from having access to these additional resources, and our team adds strengths in other areas.”

Tom Gable

Tom Gable

Gable PR has worked for some of the region’s key economic, business, cultural, civic and community initiatives, and has implemented complex programs for regional, national and international clients. Its clients include Bridgepoint Education, Guild Mortgage, AT&T in San Diego and Hawaii, Fisher & Phillips, and Renovation Realty.

Tom Gable’s book, “The PR Client Service Manual,” is the No. 1 agency management book sold through the Public Relations Society of America.

Trumpfheller will be president of the combined operation. Gable will be vice chairman.

Jamie Lynn Sigler, founding partner of J Public Relations, called the merger “a great move for two iconic companies in the city.” As a combined company, the firm will be able to attract more national accounts, said Sigler.

Sigler’s company, which was launced in 2005, has 43 full-time employees.

“We are the seventh largest travel PR company in the country,” said Sigler, who added she did not consider the merger a threat to her own firm because they are in different markets.

Leading Economic Indicators Up Sharply

The USD Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County rose 1.3 percent in February.  For the second month in a row, all six components of the Index were up.

February’s results were almost identical to those of January:  Initial claims for unemployment insurance, help wanted advertising, and building permits were strongly positive, while consumer confidence, local stock prices, and the outlook for the national economy had more modest gains.

February’s gain was the ninth consecutive increase for the USD Index and the monthly increase was second only to last month as the largest since February 2011.

The outlook remains for strong growth in the local economy at least through the end of the year.

Since last month’s report, the annual adjustment to the employment data was released.  Wage and salary employment increased by 30,200 in San Diego County in 2014. Initial reports suggested a higher job growth number, so the revised data were a little disappointing. Still, the local economy has added more than 30,000 jobs in each of the last three years, something that hasn’t happened since the period 1997-2000.

The strongest growing sectors were leisure and hospitality (+8,200 jobs), health care (+5,300), professional, scientific and technical services (+4,600), retail (+2,900), construction (+2,600), and government (+2,400).

Stone IPA from North County. Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.

Stone IPA from North County. Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.

4 San Diego Craft Brewers Among Top 50 Nationwide

Four San Diego-area breweries are among the top 50 independent beer companies in the United States based on sales volume, according to a list released Tuesday by the Brewers Association,

9th — Stone Brewing Co.

31st — Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

45th —  Karl Strauss Brewing Co.

48th — Green Flash Brewing Co.

The Colorado-based Brewers Association noted that 42 were of the 50 independents on its 2014 list are craft brewing companies.

The largest independent brewery in the United States in 2014 was D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. of Pottsville, Pa., followed by Boston Beer Co.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., based in Chico, ranked third and was the top independent in California.

“The companies on this list include the vanguard of the craft industry,” said Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association. “They are exposing new beer lovers to craft, opening new markets and creating opportunities for the entire category.”

Times of San Diego and City News Service

Education Leaders Ask Governor

To Repeal Limit on Reserves

School board members from throughout San Diego County joined the League of Women Voters of California in urging Gov. Jerry Brown to repeal a new law that they say limits the ability of school districts to maintain adequate reserves to save for a rainy day.

Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 858, which opponents said undermines local control and fiscal prudence by preventing school districts from maintaining the budget reserves necessary to prepare for the next economic downturn, maintain fiscal solvency and protect students in California.

Under SB 858, if the state deposits as little as $1 into the statewide rainy day fund for schools — which could happen sooner than previously expected based on an improving economy — local school districts statewide could be forced to eliminate between $5 billion and $14 billion in savings that took years to build up.

The budget reserve cap component of SB 858 mandates that if the state trigger is pulled, local school reserve funds must be below a certain state limit or cap. For most school districts in California, the new cap on savings equates to about 6 percent, which represents only a few days of cash flow, according to Encinitas Union School District board member Carol Skiljian.

“Reserves are what help school districts weather economic downturns and volatility of state revenues and help us save for specific projects, like textbooks, technology upgrades, modernizing classrooms and maintenance projects,” Skiljan said.

aTyr Pharma Secures $76 Million in Financing

aTyr Pharma Inc. a San Diego biotech company engaged in the discovery and development of Physiocrine-based therapeutics to address rare diseases, announced the successful completion of a $76 million Series E financing led by new investors Sofinnova Ventures and an undisclosed large institutional investor in the biotechnology industry.

Additional new investors taking part in this round of financing include certain funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.; Federated Investors Inc.; Deerfield; Rock Springs Capital Management; EcoR1 Capital; Sphera Global Healthcare and two additional undisclosed institutional investors. Current venture capital investors and a current public investment fund also took part in the raise.

The company plans to use the proceeds to further develop its pipeline and advance its lead program through clinical trials, including an ongoing Phase 1b/2 trial of Resolaris, an investigational new drug representing aTyr’s first Physiocrine-based product candidate in the clinic.

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina expansion rendering

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina expansion rendering

Marriott Marquis San Diego Breaks Ground

On Largest West Coast Event Space

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina has broken ground on a massive meeting space expansion that will result in the largest event space on the West Coast.

The Downtown San Diego hotel will be expanding to nearly 240,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event venues, and is scheduled for completion in summer 2016.

The San Diego meeting and wedding venue will be using its bay and Downtown surroundings as backdrops during the reconstruction. In place of the current ballrooms, two stacked, 36,000-square-foot ballrooms are being built to overlook San Diego Bay, each able to accommodate up to 4,500 guests.

For event planners looking to take celebrations outdoors, the Marina Terrace invites guests to soak up San Diego’s climate with 26,450 square feet of paved space overlooking the marina. Ample seating areas will create the perfect atmosphere to relax and unwind or mix and mingle while connecting guests to the beautiful outdoors.

In its newest addition, the luxury San Diego hotel will be building the Marina Walk, connecting downtown and the San Diego Bay. Along the path, visitors will enjoy views of the marina, parks and the waterfront. Finishing touches of this landscaped walkway will include bike racks, benches, public art and decorative paving.

Rhombus Energy Solutions

Acquires Michigan Company

Rhombus Energy Solutions Inc., a San Diego energy technology company, has acquired Energy Development Associates LLC, a Dearborn, Mich., company that develops electric vehicles. EDA has had many owners, including Ford, Ballard, Siemens and Continental.

“This acquisition moves us closer to serving customers globally with advanced power management innovations,” said Rick Sander, co-founder and CEO of Rhombus. “With the skillset, high power products, and deep industry knowledge that EDA brings, we now can offer a full power range of energy conversion products. The companies are accretive in every way.”

NuVasive CEO Resigns Over Expense Policy Violations

San Diego-based NuVasive, which makes spine-surgery products, said its long-time CEO Alex Lukianov has resigned after an investigation found he had not complied with the company’s expense-reimbursement and personnel policies.

Lukianov will be replaced as interim CEO by Greg Lucier, a board member since 2013. Lucier is the former Chairman and CEO of Life Technologies and a General Electric executive prior to that.

“The results of an independent investigation overseen by the board of directors revealed that Alex had not complied with certain of the company’s expense reimbursement and personnel policies,” said independent director Jack R. Blair. “Although the amounts involved appear to be immaterial to the company’s financial results, his actions in this regard were not representative of the high standards by which NuVasive operates.”

Lukianov had led the company since 1999, taking it through an initial public offering in 2004.

The company, which is the third-largest maker of spine surgery products, also announced that it anticipates first quarter 2015 revenue will be in excess of $190 million and remains on track for 2015 profitability goals.

NuVasive’s stock price was off 2 percent at $45.09 in early trading on Wednesday.

Times of San Diego

Submerged wreckage of a U.S. Navy Curtiss SB2C Helldiver aircraft. (Photo: Eric Terrill/Scripps Oceanography)

Submerged wreckage of a U.S. Navy Curtiss SB2C Helldiver aircraft. (Photo: Eric Terrill/Scripps Oceanography)

Scripps Researchers Part of Team

Discovering Wrecked WWII Bomber

Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, were part of a team that has found a U.S. Navy Curtiss SB2C Helldiver aircraft lost in World War II and missing for over 70 years. The plane was discovered resting in the tropical waters of the Republic of Palau. The find is one of several made in recent years by a group of university-based oceanographers working with a nonprofit organization that seeks to recover lost aircraft and aviators listed as missing in action for decades.

The carrier-based dive-bomber was flying missions in support of Operation Stalemate II, a fierce battle that took place during a U.S. Marine landing on Peleliu. The dive-bomber was lost with two aviators onboard. The location of the aircraft and a detailed site survey will be turned over to the government of Palau and the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the U.S. agency responsible for recovery and identification of remains and the notification of families.

The aircraft was found by a multi-disciplinary team leveraging a public-private partnership between Scripps and the University of Delaware, and the nonprofit organizations Coral Reef Research Foundation and the BentProp Project. State-of-the-art undersea technologies including unmanned undersea vehicles and high-frequency sonar were used to search the seafloor after a high-probability search region was identified through months of archival research and the team’s scientific analysis of historic data that BentProp has collected in the past 20 years.

“The testbed we developed in this public-private partnership appears to be paying dividends in our ability to find crash sites associated with those missing from past conflicts,” said Scripps oceanographer Eric Terrill, a co-leader of the search mission.

Five other aircraft targets are also on the team’s priority search list for this year’s expedition.

The academic and nonprofit teams were brought together three years ago under a chance meeting while the oceanographers were conducting marine research in Palau, and they were able to obtain seed money support from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to apply emerging undersea technologies for purposes of finding aircraft associated with MIAs and provide a platform for public Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach.

“It’s a great feeling to be involved in an effort that develops and applies new scientific and technical approaches to a problem of national interest,” said Terrill, “and that in some small way, our efforts may help bring closure to those who have lost loved ones.”

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