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Daily Business Report-Dec. 18, 2015

Daily Business Report-Dec. 18, 2015

Old Town is a favorite destination for tourists coming to San Diego.

San Diego’s Tourism Economy

Projected to Have Record Year

The San Diego Tourism Authority is projecting a record year for tourism in in San Diego in 2015 — $9.9 billion in visitor spending, 34 million visitors and $266 million in transient occupancy tax contributions to San Diego County city governments.

The region is on pace to surpass last year’s totals in all of those categories, officials said.

“While San Diego has long been a popular travel destination, the region’s appeal to travelers from around the world continues to grow and strengthen,” said Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “In ever-increasing numbers, visitors are taking notice of all that San Diego has to offer, from our iconic attractions and world-class museums to our diverse neighborhood experiences and our innovative spirit that creates a dynamic business climate.”

The record numbers close out a successful year for San Diego’s tourism sector, according to officials.  In July, the SDTA announced that convention bookings during fiscal year 2015 reached a 10-year high with 1 million room nights booked. In February, the SDTA released a new $8.9 million multi-platform advertising campaign, which included television, print, online and billboard advertising. 2015 also saw the expansion of San Diego’s international presence. Earlier this year, the SDTA retained marketing representation in Australia, complementing international marketing efforts already underway in the U.K., Germany, China, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

Also this year, San Diego was one of only four cities worldwide to be named a “World’s Smart City” by the National Geographic Channel.

“We’re very encouraged by the growth of San Diego’s tourism economy over the past couple of years,” said Terzi. “And every San Diegan has a stake in the success of this important industry. Our ability to attract more travelers benefits the entire region through increased spending at our business establishments and more hotel tax revenue that the city can use for police, fire and other important services.”



Jobless rate drops

Jobless rate drops

San Diego County Jobless Rate Falls to 4.8 Percent

Nonfarm jobs up by 11,000 over the month; up 37,800 over the year

The unemployment rate in the San Diego County was 4.8 percent in November, down from a revised 5 percent in October, and below the year-ago estimate of 6 percent, the state Employment Development Department reported today.

This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.7 percent for California and 4.8 percent for the nation during the same period.

Between October and November:

Total nonfarm employment increased from 1,404,700 to 1,415,700, a gain of 11,000 jobs. Agricultural employment declined by 400 jobs, or 3.9 percent.

• Trade, transportation, and utilities recorded the greatest month-over gain, adding 5,500 jobs. Seasonal growth in retail trade (up 5,400) accounted for more than 98 percent of the job growth in this sector. Transportation, warehousing and utilities added 600 jobs, while employment in wholesale trade declined by 500 jobs.

• Seven other sectors also added jobs over the month with three of them increasing by more than 1,000 jobs: government (up 1,800); educational and health services (up 1,400); and leisure and hospitality (up 1,100).

• Other services posted the only month-over employment decline (down 400 jobs). Financial activities and mining and logging remained unchanged.

Between November 2014 and November 2015:

Total nonfarm employment increased by 37,800 jobs, or 2.7 percent.

• Agricultural employment declined by 300 jobs or 2.9 percent.

• Educational and health services recorded the greatest year-over gain, adding 9,200 jobs. More than 90 percent of the increase was in health care and social assistance (up 8,600).

• Eight other sectors also added jobs over the year. The most notable job growth came from professional and business services (up 8,200), led by advances in professional, scientific and technical services (up 7,300).

• One industry posted year-over job losses: other services (down 1,900). Mining and logging reported no change.


Magda Marquet and Francois Ferré Selected as 2016

Inductees into CONNECT Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Magda Marquet and Francois Ferré

Magda Marquet and Francois Ferré

Magda Marquet and Francois Ferré, co-founders of Althea Technologies, have been selected as 2016 inductees into the CONNECT Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame — its highest honor.

Marquet is being recognized as the first-ever female recipient of the award, and the couple, business partners who will also celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in 2016, is being honored for their extensive contributions within San Diego¹s research, health care, and entrepreneur communities.

“Our business is centered on the people and organizations that truly impact the city of San Diego, and without the contributions of Magda and François, the local biotech community would not be what it is today,” said Greg McKee, CEO of CONNECT.

Marquet, co-chair of Althea (a member of the Ajinomoto Group), a provider of contract services to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, has over 30 years of experience in the biotechnology field in the United States and Europe. She is also a co-founder of AltheaDX, a precision medicine company.

During her tenure as the former executive director of Pharmaceutical Development at Vical Inc., she patented several novel methods for the production of clinical grade DNA for use in gene therapy and DNA vaccines.

A highly regarded scientist and businessperson, has received numerous awards throughout her career including the Ernst & Young’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year award kand the UCSD Athena Pinnacle and Chairman awards.

Ferré is director of Althea and also the co-chairman and co-founder of AltheaDx, a privately-held company focusing on personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics. He serves on the board of a number of private companies including Biomatrica and Portable Genomics. He is co-chairman of the Advisory Board of MD Revolution.

Ferré is a leader in gene quantification and biomarker development and has published several reviews on these topics, including the co-edition of a bestseller book on PCR with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Kary Mullis. Ferré was the winner of the 2005 Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Life Sciences category.

Marquet and Ferre are also the founders of ALMA Life Sciences LLC, an early stage investment firm focusing on the creation and growth of innovative health care companies in San Diego. ALMA’s portfolio includes over 20 life sciences companies and its main focus is prevention with numerous investments in diagnostics and e-health.


Fifty Twenty-Five, located at 5025 Collwood Boulevard

Fifty Twenty-Five, located at 5025 Collwood Boulevard

Student Housing Project Near

SDSU Sells for $69.5 Million

Fifty Twenty-Five, a 260-unit, 942-bed student housing complex serving San Diego State University, has been sold for $69.5 million to FPA MultiFamily LLC. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, which marketed the building, said the seller was undisclosed.

Completed in 2010, Fifty Twenty-Five, located at 5025 Collwood Boulevard, less than a mile from SDSU, has a mix of studio, two- and four-bedroom floor plans averaging 951 square feet with amenities that include flat-screen televisions, high-speed Internet, full-size washers and dryers, walk-in closets and fully equipped kitchens.

The complex also includes a resort-style swimming pool, 24-hour fitness center, study rooms, 24-hour computer center, coffee bar, tanning bed, shuttle service and a 598-space parking garage.


Driverless car concept by Tesla

Driverless car concept by Tesla

With Driverless Cars Coming,

State Issues Draft Regulations

Times of San Diego

The state of California issued draft regulations Wednesday covering the expected deployment of driverless cars by Tesla and Google as early as next year.

The draft rules from the Department of Motor Vehicles call for a specially licensed driver to be in the vehicle and able to take over control. The driver would be responsible for any accidents or violations of traffic laws.

“Given the potential risks associated with deployment of such a new technology, DMV believes that manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing
driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public,” the agency said.

The DMV plans to issue regulations covering fully autonomous vehicles — without the presence of a driver — after further testing.

Google, which has been testing its vehicles with drivers under a temporary permit, said it was “gravely disappointed” that the latest rules do not allow vehicles without licensed drivers on California roads.

“Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this,” the company said in a statement. “We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here.”

Google has been promoting the vehicles as a way for people who can’t drive to more easily be transported, and requiring a licensed driver would make the new technology much less useful.

Eleven manufacturers currently hold permits to test autonomous vehicles in California.

Public meetings are scheduled for Jan. 28 in Sacramento and Feb. 2 in Los Angeles to discuss the draft regulations


Community Court

Program Gets Boost

The San Diego Community Court program will expand its scope in 2016 so that more low-level and first-time offenders can choose paths that lead them away from further criminal activity, the San Diego City Attorney’s ofice reported.

The expansion, which is partly funded by a $415,599 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Smart Prosecution Initiative, will provide services that help address Community Court participants’ underlying needs. In the pilot program’s first year, more than 600 individuals avoided criminal records and paid their debt to society through community service.

Key program enhancements will include:

• Screening of program participants to assess individual needs (such as housing, education, job training and treatment programs) that may put them at risk of committing additional crimes

• A dedicated case manager to provide participants with personal counseling and direction in accessing to service providers and enrolling in treatment programs

As these enhancements are put into effect, eligibility for Community Court programs can be broadened to include people who are arrested on misdemeanor drug charges and for illegal lodging, a charge brought against homeless individuals who sleep on the streets and refuse to accept placement in shelters.


Parallel Parners Buys Phoenix Property

San Diego-based Parallel Capital Partners, in joint-venture with Angelo, Gordon and Co., has acquired Arizona Center — a Class A, 16-acre mixed-use campus in downtown Phoenix — for $126 million.


Miramar College Building Gets LEED Certification

San Diego Miramar College’s Administration building has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for sustainable design by the United States Green Building Council. The USGBC is an organization that recognizes best-in-class “green” building strategies and practices. The Miramar College Administration building, which finished construction in September 2014, is one of a total of 43 projects in the San Diego Community College District awarded or tracking certification.


Kaiser Permanente to Open Independent

Medical School in Southern California

Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente has announced plans to open an independent medical school in Southern California. The school is expected to open for enrollment for the 2019 fall semester. Officials say the school will focus on teaching team- and population-based care aimed at improving outcomes and lowering costs. Meanwhile, Christine Cassel has announced she will step down as president and CEO of the National Quality Forum on March 1, 2016, to join the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine’s leadership team. — California Healthline


Ligand Pharmaceuticals to Acquire OMT Inc.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. of San Diego announced it will acquire OMT Inc. of Palo Alto, a company involved in the genetic engineering of animals. Under the terms of the transaction, Ligand will pay OMT shareholders $178 million, including $92.6 million in cash and $85.4 million in Ligand common stock. Roland Buelow, founder of OMT and a world-renowned antibody researcher, is expected to join Ligand as vice president of antibody technologies and continue working with Ligand on advancing the OMT business. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in January 2016.


NASSCO Completes LNG Bunkering

For the Perla Del Caribe Containership

General Dynamics NASSCO on Dec. 11 successfully completed bunkering of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the Perla Del Caribe, the world’s second containership to be powered by LNG.

Bunkering services were provided by the California-based company Clean Energy as well as Baker Hughes and Envent during a 48-hour period at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Representatives from NASSCO worked collaboratively with several regulatory agencies to prepare for the event, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, the San Diego Fire Department, and the Air Pollution Control District.

The Perla Del Caribe received 210,000 gallons of LNG, which is nearly double the amount bunkered for its sister ship, the Isla Bella, the world’s first LNG-powered containership. The Isla Bella was built by NASSCO and delivered in October of this year.


Affirmed Housing Starts Construction

On Affordable Housing Apartments

Affirmed Housing has started construction on Cypress, a 63-unit affordable apartment complex in Downtown’s East Village in partnership with the San Diego Housing Commission. Cypress will offer resident services by St. Vincent de Paul Village Inc. and is being built to meet a LEED Gold level of sustainability.

Located at 1435 Imperial Ave., Cypress will offer 62 studio units with supportive services for homeless individuals, and one manager’s unit.  The efficient homes will range from 275 to 350 square feet, and have access to a large, 4,000-square-foot common area. Shared amenities at Cypress will include a community kitchen, tech tables, lounge areas, and outdoor open space.  The community will also have a solar array to offset 60 percent of its common area usage, and will offer rents at 30 percent and 40 percent of the Area Median Income. The six-story development was designed by by Carrier Johnson.


Personnel Announcements

William Rivera Joins California Southern as Loan Officer

William Rivera

William Rivera

California Southern Small Business Development Corp., the county’s largest state and federally funded loan guarantee program,  has hired William Rivera as a loan officer.

Rivera has more than 20 years of banking and finance experience, most recently as a vice president and branch manager with California Bank and Trust.

Rivera comes to Cal Southern after 17 years with California Bank and Trust. His career at the bank initially began as an assistant vice president and customer service manager where his responsibilities consisted of managing the daily operations of a $30 million branch.

Rivera was later promoted to the role as credit analyst and became branch manager in 2006, where he managed commercial client portfolios with annual revenues from $10 million to $50 million. Most recently as branch manager in City Heights, Rivera originated, serviced and managed all types of commercial loans and lines of credit including commercial real estate loans.


Mike Hensley Named General Manager

Of Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel

Mike Hensley

Mike Hensley

Mike Hensley has been named the general manager of  Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel, a 200-room property overlooking the historic district in Old Town San Diego. Hensley is in charge of day-to-day operations, marketing and managing the property fiscally and physically.

With more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Hensley has managed some of San Diego’s and Mission Valley’s largest hotels. Before joining Hacienda Hotel, Hensley was the general manager at Four Points by Sheraton San Diego, Mission Valley Resort and the Hawthorn Suites San Diego and has worked with brands including Hilton, Starwood and US Franchise Systems.

Hensley started in the hospitality industry in high school.




Libby Award winner Camryn Thomson. Photo via

Libby Award winner Camryn Thomson. Photo via

San Diego Teen Wins PETA

National Award for SeaWorld Protests

Times of San Diego

For the second straight year, a San Diego teen has won PETA’s national award for animal-rights activism in its youth division, especially for protests against SeaWorld.

Camryn Thomson, 16, follows 2014 honoree Zach Affolter of Westview High School as “Star Street Teamer of the Year.”

“Her proudest moment was when she dressed up as the orca Tilly, who has been held captive at SeaWorld for more than 30 years, for a protest against the abusement park,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a news release.

“At 9 years old, she wondered what happened to pigs before they became food on her plate. After a quick search of PETA’s website, she hasn’t eaten animals since.”

Thomson was the choice over fellow finalists Lincoln Dow of Houston; Lia Vallina of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Jeremy Sagaribay of Asheville, North Carolina.

In its 10th year, peta2 — PETA’s youth division — recognizes kids in various categories with Libby Awards (“Libby” standing for “liberation,” as in animal liberation).

PETA said Thomson was honored for her efforts to promote kindness to animals.

A member of peta2’s Youth Advisory Board, Thomson “offers constant feedback and ideas to help make peta2 bigger and better,” the group said. “She’s also on the front lines at every SeaWorld protest she can get to. Classmates refer to her as ‘the girl in the prison uniform at the SeaWorld protest’ — which she did in solidarity with (orca) Tilikum.”

Thomson also work to push her school — Clairemont High School — to adopt “modern, high-tech dissection software that students can use instead of cutting up animals,” PETA said.


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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.

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