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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Investor Spotlight

November 4, 2014

RA Capital Advisors

San Diego builds products and innovations that bring value to the rest of the world. However, San Diego’s story is a bit different from other regions across the country. Whereas many regions rely on a few large companies for the majority of their economic growth, San Diego’s story is one of building innovative, highly-valued companies from the ground up.

Companies like RA Capital Advisors get that. Having served the San Diego business community for more than 25 years, they have worked with clients across many of San Diego’s high-growth industries, including defense, energy, and manufacturing.

This week, we sat down with RA Capital Advisors' Joel Reed to hear more about the competitive advantages of doing business in the region.

1.  Tell us about RA Capital Advisors
RA Capital is a boutique investment bank providing financial advisory services to businesses both domestically and internationally.  We focus on mergers, acquisitions dispositions and private financings, and have completed over $60 billion in transactions since founding our business in the San Diego area over 25 years ago. 

RA Capital has handled many large and high profile transactions, including helping our clients:  use innovative technology to create substantial energy savings for commercial aircraft, combine their businesses into one of America's premier defense technology companies, finance construction of the largest fleet of ocean-going container ships, and realize many other entrepreneurial dreams. We bring that same experience to helping small and middle market business owners successfully build their companies, and realize their value when the time is right.

2.  What are some advantages to doing business in SD?
Why RA Capital Chose SDSan Diego is a vibrant center for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.  Being in San Diego allows you to see great companies grow from the ground up.  We have enjoyed working with companies as they grow new technologies or business ideas into successful companies like Sirius XM Radio, Sandel Avionics and The Titan Corporation. Many of our diverse clients have focused on specialized manufacturing, national security, aerospace, energy, and healthcare.  San Diego offers these employers the opportunity to create challenging and rewarding jobs in a city with an outstanding quality of life, that is a preferred destination for many professionals and technologies.  As companies such as Qualcomm, SAIC, and others have grown, they have generated many new businesses, reinvigorating the community.  Facing the Pacific makes San Diego a great fit with our affiliate partners' offices in India and Malaysia, and local high tech companies often find our European affiliate offices to be a source of beneficial connections.

3.  San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
Manufacturing and innovation are essential to the success of our community and our economy.  D&K Engineering, located in Rancho Bernardo, is a very exciting example.  D&K is a global product realization company specializing in the design, engineering and manufacturing of complex electromechanical products and equipment.  Through innovation, collaboration and process discipline, D&K partners with organizations to create and build innovative products while reducing cost, accelerating time to market and ensuring product quality. As D&K puts it: they bridge the gap between concept and reality. 

4.   What do we anticipate for San Diego and RA Capital in five years?
San Diego and its regional partners will emerge as a premier global city, exporting and exchanging products, technology and talent with its Asian neighbors and the rest of the world. Continuing innovations in technologies will require building upon our world class institutions of higher learning and expanding our highly skilled workforce. San Diego will build intelligent infrastructure to support this growth, while maintaining the unique beauty of our surrounding area and offering a lifestyle that attracts the active, intellectually curious individuals who create innovation. RA Capital will grow locally, while continuing to expand its global capabilities and be part of supporting this regional growth. We will help San Diego companies find the capital they need to grow, acquire the companies that complement their businesses and extend their reach around the globe. And, as we have always done, we will use our global experience and personal commitment as trusted advisors, to create value for clients, their owners, their employees and the San Diego community.

RA Capital Advisors LLC is a Member of FINRA and SIPC.

October 28, 2014

Uber logo

Uber, the ubiquitous transportation platform, has revolutionized the way San Diegans get around. But it’s more than just a logistics platform. Although Uber is available in more than 100 cities around the world, they have found a way to leverage San Diego’s unique assets, tapping into both the concentration of military personnel and cross-border economy.  They are a high-tech company that has mastered the cross-over between innovation and quality of life – something San Diego knows well.

Christopher Ballard, general manager of Uber San Diego, explains why the company thrives in San Diego:

1) Tell us about Uber
Uber is a technology company that is changing the way the world moves, works and lives. By seamlessly connecting riders to the safest, most reliable ride on the road, we’re making all of San Diego more accessible to locals and visitors alike at prices anyone can afford.  And our growth in the city has been tremendous. When we launched in San Diego in early 2012, we partnered with a handful of drivers covering the Gaslamp. Today, we have thousands of drivers partnering with the Uber platform, with average pickup times of less than five minutes across San Diego.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?
Why Uber Chose SD We like to say Uber is a technology company at the intersection of lifestyle and logistics, and that’s definitely the case in San Diego.  San Diego’s quality of life attracts ambitious, dynamic and tech-savvy people from across the country and the world who regularly ride and drive with the Uber platform.  We’ve also tapped into the tremendous talent, commitment and dedication of our city’s vast military community as part of our national UberMILITARY initiative, which started in San Diego.  We are committing to onboarding 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses over the next 18 months as driver-partners with the Uber platform.  

Also, San Diego has the unique distinction of being a border region.  Having recently launched Uber Tijuana, we see a major opportunity in providing riders more choice in transportation options throughout the Cali-Baja Region.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
HouseCall is revolutionizing the home services space.  Founded by ex-Qualcomm employees, the app allows people to book home services jobs directly with the service provider.  As someone who doesn’t have a lot of time left in the day for household chores like cleaning the house or fixing a sink, having the option to press a button and receive immediate service from a vetted professional is a major way to stay productive.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?
I see Uber weaving itself further into the fabric of city life in San Diego and cities across the globe.  Right now, we’re connecting riders to drivers in less than five minutes.  Once you get that right, the possibilities for on-demand delivery are endless, and the need to own a vehicle is diminished. Ultimately, we’re trying to make it so that car ownership isn’t necessary in San Diego.  It’s an ambitious goal, but one we think is achievable.  If we can make it so that it’s cheaper to take an Uber than own a car, we can boost productivity, reduce congestion, and help make San Diego an even better place to live.  We also hope to facilitate stronger economic and social ties between Tijuana and San Diego by making seamless cross-border transportation a reality.

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October 21, 2014

San Diego County Water Authority

Water is an essential part of the region’s economic health. From genomics to advanced manufacturing and beer, many of San Diego’s strongest industries are also those that use the most water.

Amid one of the most severe droughts in the State’s history, local governments and water agencies have put in place restrictions to conserve and increase regional water flow to preserve the health of our economy and people. The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) launched a When in Drought campaign to educate county residents and businesses about the need to conserve our water supply.

The good news is that when it comes to these diversification efforts, San Diego is leading the pack. Thanks to the efforts of the SDCWA, the region no longer relies on one source for 95 percent of its water supply, instead looking to new sources such as recycled water as well as water storage to bolster these efforts. The recently-completed San Vicente Dam raise doubles the reservoir’s capacity. Another answer may be right in our backyard: when complete in 2015, the Carlsbad Desalination plant will be the largest of its kind in the Western hemisphere, and provide another local source of water.

This week, we got to learn a little more about the region’s water supply – and what it means for our economic competitiveness - from Mark Weston, the newly-elected chair of the board of directors at the San Diego County Water Authority. Mr. Weston serves as the Poway representative.


1) Tell us about the SDCWA.
San Diego County is a wonderful place to live, but there are not local enough water supplies to support the region’s 3.1 million people and $206 billion economy*. That’s where the Water Authority comes in. We import water from distant sources and distribute it in five very large diameter pipelines to 24 retail water districts and cities. We also are helping to develop local water resources such as seawater desalination, and we are assisting our member agencies advance potable reuse, water recycling and groundwater. And, we promote water conservation to make the most of every drop. Established in 1944, the Water Authority service area stretches from Camp Pendleton to the Otay Water District on the U.S-Mexico border. Over the past two decades, the Water Authority – in partnership with the community – has diversified the region’s water supply sources. We no longer rely on a single supplier for 95 percent of our water, a strategy that is helping reduce the impact of the current statewide drought on our community.

2)  What makes San Diego’s water supply unique?
Our region is effectively at the end of two major pipelines that bring water from the Colorado River and Northern California. After the county’s imported water supplies were cut by 31 percent in 1991, the Water Authority SDCWA on the region's water supply and the region – with support from our member agencies and the business community – developed an aggressive plan to diversify our supply sources. The strategy included the nation’s largest agriculture-to-urban water transfer as part of the historic 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement. In addition, the Water Authority has promoted water conservation as a way of life, helping to reduce the region’s per capita water use by more than 20 percent since 2007. The Water Authority also has been a strong supporter of water recycling. And, in fall 2015, we expect to start buying water from the landmark Carlsbad Desalination Project.

3) Water is an essential component of our future. Pick a San Diego company that is paving the way when it comes to water conservation.
San Diego Zoo Global recycles more than 16 million gallons of water annually and uses that water to support its horticultural collections. In addition, the Zoo uses water-saving technologies such as low-flow toilets, water reclamation ponds and evaporation-reducing mulch around plants. San Diego Zoo Global is also doing a great job spreading the word about the need for water conservation through: new signs at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park that emphasize WaterSmart practices; water conservation reminders during bus and tram tours; and social media posts that highlight California’s water supply challenges while encouraging its legions of supporters to conserve water.

4) What do you anticipate for the Water Authority in the next 5 years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?
By 2020, the Water Authority anticipates achieving its long-term goals for creating a fully diversified water supply, and we also expect the region will meet the state Legislature’s mandate to reduce water use by 20 percent by 2020. But that doesn’t mean our job is done. The serious statewide drought and a changing climate will continue to challenge local and state water suppliers. For instance, if this winter is dry, it may mean reductions in the amount of imported water delivered to San Diego County by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. While MWD is still our region’s largest water supplier, our diversification efforts will reduce the impacts on our community of any water allocations by MWD. About this time next year, the Carlsbad Desalination Project will generate 50 million gallons of water a day, enough to meet about 7 percent of regional demand in 2020. In addition, we will continue supporting our member agencies’ efforts to enhance groundwater supplies and water recycling. Several member agencies are developing or studying potable water reuse projects, and we have identified potable reuse as the region’s most likely next source of local supply. Finally, we will continue partnering with residents and businesses to conserve water, particularly outdoors.

*2014 estimated GDP, according to National University Systems Institute for Policy Research 

October 14, 2014

D&K Engineering

On October 3rd, more than 28 San Diego companies opened their doors to the public as part of National Manufacturing (MFG) Day. As one of the founding members of the local event, the team at D&K Engineering was behind the day’s success. More than 100 people lined up to tour its Rancho Bernardo headquarters where many of the world’s most innovative products are made.

With a wide-range of expertise - including kiosks, medical devices, 3D printers and more – D&K Engineering is redefining the way we think of product manufacturing. Its products and expertise illustrate the way manufacturing has evolved to become a high-tech process that creates applications that change the world. This product intuition has helped them yield results: the innovator saw its manufacturing business grow by 90 percent from November 2012 to November 2013.  This is the type of growth that lands a company on the Inc. 5000 list five times.

For this week’s Investor Spotlight, we sat down with D&K Engineering’s CEO Scott Dennis to learn about why the innovator chooses to grow in San Diego.

1) Tell us about D&K Engineering

D&K Engineering provides end-to-end R&D, product development and manufacturing services for high-innovation content, hardware-based products.  We help enterprises become leaders in their industries by creating and manufacturing breakthrough hardware-based products that lead to profitable, enduring lines of business for our clients.  We achieve this by employing world-class R&D and manufacturing talent, deploying state-of-the-art product realization processes and leveraging our global infrastructure and supply chain to design and manufacture innovative products on a service basis. San Diego based ecoATM is a great example of one of D&K Engineering’s many end-to-end client relationships (R&D through manufacturing).  As the engineering and manufacturing engine behind ecoATM, we helped them quickly achieve market leadership by designing and delivering a fully-automated kiosk that was deployed to the market and generating revenue within a 12-month period.  Today, ecoATM is the leader in the electronics eCycling kiosk industry.

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

Why D&K Engineering Chose San Diego

Although D&K Engineering provides services to companies around the world, San Diego is an ideal location to call home.  Some key advantages of doing business in San Diego are the broad base of industries located in the region, the deep pool of R&D and manufacturing talent available, geographic proximity to Mexico and easy access to Asian markets and supply chain. San Diego’s industry base includes many market-leading and emerging companies in a wide variety of industries such as medical, life science, wireless, 2D and 3D printing, kiosks, and defense.  Most organizations in these industries partner heavily with service-based companies to assist them with developing new, innovative products and manufacturing them on an ongoing basis.    

The education level and specialized skills of the talent pool in San Diego is a competitive advantage for our business. Not only does the region provide a talented pool of experienced workers, but its world-class university system, including UC San Diego, San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and others, continually provides a great pool of new engineering and business talent.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

There are many San Diego based companies that are innovators and global leaders in their perspective industries. A few of these companies include:  iboss, a web security company developing innovative security solutions and a prominent member of San Diego’s growing cybersecurity industry; Hologic GenProbe, a medical device company developing diagnostic products to help improve patients’ lives; Illumina, a medical device manufacturer developing advanced DNA sequencing solutions and products used in the advancement of personalized medicine. 

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years?

D&K expects continued regional and global growth in both our engineering and manufacturing services business over the next five years. With the goal of achieving a global leadership position in the product realization services industry, D&K offers San Diego the advantage of having a global industry leader in their own back yard that can help expand the burgeoning pool of technology based companies who call San Diego home. 

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October 7, 2014

Meet Gafcon, one of the companies shaping Southern California’s skyline. Consistently ranked among Engineering News Record’s 100 Top Project Management Firms, Gafcon is the company behind some of the region’s most iconic locations, including the Del Mar Fairgrounds.Gafcon Logo

Founded in 1987 by Pam and Yehudi Gaffen, the company now has more than 100 employees at its offices in San Diego and Los Angeles. They seek to use their construction expertise to build vibrant communities.

We recently sat down with CEO Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen to hear firsthand why the company thrives in San Diego.

Tell us about Gafcon

Never losing sight of an owner’s objectives and perspective, Gafcon anticipates a challenge, delivering with certainty while making the complex simple. We take command of multilayered projects by applying decades of specialized experience. Gafcon is confident in our project management teams and our deliberate approach, and are committed to the communities in which we live and work.

Our mission—27 years in the making—is to safeguard success. Gafcon project management teams consistently focus on an owner’s best interests. Our technology and management tools maximize the value in every investment. And every goal is achieved by adhering to The Gafcon Way: A process that ensures transparency, facilitates confident decision-making, and constantly strives for perfection. Our people, our technology and our processes are unique within the industry. Combined, they are a driving force that delivers certainty.

Our most important measure of success: Longstanding client relationships built on trust, personal attention and mutual respect.

What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

I migrated to San Diego from South Africa in search of a better place to raise a family.Why Gafcon Chose San Diego   I had received a call from a business associate asking if I was interested in working in San Diego.  I didn’t even know where San Diego was.  Once here, I quickly realized that one of the great things about San Diego is that it’s small enough to build relationships, yet large enough for opportunity.  27 years later, it is those relationships and opportunities that have helped our business grow and thrive.  I also found that San Diego businesses are also very supportive of the community at large. Being a valued “Corporate Citizen” is foundational for sustainable success and for Gafcon this has resulted in long term repeat relationships that have been mutually rewarding. 

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Gafcon is a partner with AECOM on projects in San Diego and Los Angeles. AECOM is a true global leader. Over the years, they have been entrusted with the management and control of hundreds of major capital programs across all continents and market sectors, including transportation/infrastructure, environmental, facilities, mining and minerals, and energy. Engineering News Record ranked AECOM as #1 in the Top 500 Design Firms in education.  We have enjoyed our partnerships with them.

What do you anticipate for your company in five years?
In the next five years, Gafcon is looking towards geographic expansions into northern California and Texas. We are also looking to diversify into new markets, including infrastructure (water and transportation) and private mixed-use projects.

We reinforce our brand which is focused on delivering complex projects that power vibrant communities.  The underpinnings of this mission are: creating value for our clients, seeking new knowledge, delivering with the highest  quality, looking beyond the obvious for solutions, becoming our clients partners  and last but not least working hard and playing hard.

In San Diego, we will continue our focus on the education sector, and look forward to expanding on projects that improve the city’s infrastructure as well as deepening our involvement and contributions to the social, business and philanthropic fabric of our community.


September 30, 2014

Ask any company why they chose San Diego, and chances are, they will mention these two things: the strong talent pool and the community collaboration. Whereas many innovative technology companies take care of the first item, it's places like the YMCA of San Diego County that help foster a collaborative community. By incubating strong communities, they help ensure that San Diego is a place where people - and companies - thrive.

We sat down with the Y's President & CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty to learn about how the YMCA of San Diego County - the second largest Y in the U.S. - helps support the region's dynamic economy.

Tell us about the YMCA
Our Y is driven to help families thrive as we serve more kids and families than ever before. We provide child care resources, financial assistance and active, healthy fitness programming for all ages that reflect our core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. The YMCA of San Diego County is here for families at each and every stage of their journey. We focus our work in three key areas, because nurturing the potential of kids, helping people live healthier and supporting our neighbors are fundamental to strengthening communities. This year, we have secured new sites and are expanding existing sites to be able support even more families in the years to come. Since 2010, we have secured an incredible $43M in capital campaign contributions alone and we are especially thrilled to be very close to completion on the Copley-Price Family YMCA by the end of 2014. The Y is so much more than a gym. We touch the lives of nearly one out of every eight people in our community. For 132 years, we’ve been proud to help our neighbors learn, grow and thrive. 
YMCA on San Diego's talent pool

What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?
The communities of San Diego County are so incredibly diverse and we are thrilled to be able to serve all. Throughout San Diego County, countless people know the YMCA. But there’s so much more to our Y than one might think. From exercise to education, from volleyball to volunteerism, from preschool to preventive health, the Y doesn’t just strengthen our bodies. It strengthens our community. We are the second largest Y in the US in part because of our location. San Diego attracts the best and brightest minds. We are able to keep great leaders because of all the attributes of the region.

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
I immediately think of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Not only are they committed to energy efficiency but environmental stewardship is an essential part of its culture and day-to-day business. They are vested in the quality-of-life of our region, and they give back and volunteer to improve our communities. For nearly fifteen years, San Diego Gas & Electric has been the exclusive sponsor of the YMCA’s Character Development program, a year-round focus on teaching and demonstrating the core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility in all Y programs.

What do you anticipate for your company in five years?
Research shows that families who spend more time together are stronger and happier. Over the next five years, the Y will focus on strengthening families in even bigger and better ways. The Y is committed to providing the memberships, programs, activities, facilities, and resources to help more families in San Diego County thrive.

 With 20 membership facilities, three overnight camps and multiple locations focused on childcare and youth and family services, we see opportunity to improve our services. We aim to expand to  over 400,000 existing members and program participants, progressively engaging new families among the 3.2 million residents of San Diego County in youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.  By 2020, we want to have more Y family branch locations within 5 miles of every resident in the region. Additionally, we want every Sunday night to be YMCA Family Night. We will provide tools to help families track how much time they spend together and help them make plans to spend more time together. We hope you’ll engage more deeply with the Y as we officially launch our “Family Strengthening” vision in 2015.


The Y- more than you know:

September 23, 2014
Ace Parking Logo

Keith B. Jones is more than your average business owner. As managing principal and partner of Ace Parking, he knows San Diego very well. Jones’ family and Ace Parking have called San Diego home for three generations. 

He has witnessed San Diego evolve into a world-class city. The way he sees it, if we want to continue to be a “gateway to the Pacific” we must rethink the way we see space in downtown San Diego and beyond.

EDC sat down with him to talk about why Ace is proud to call San Diego home and how he sees the future of the region.

Tell us about Ace Parking

Ace Parking is the last of the family owned and run parking companies that operates across the United States. Our clients hire Ace Parking because we are the industry leaders in delivering memorable customer service experiences, increasing parking revenue returns and embracing new technologies to ensure objectives are being met. We are able to differentiate ourselves from our competition because there really is a heart and soul behind our family firm. We approach all of our clients as if we are going to do business together for the next 30 years, therefore we strive to always operate with integrity and honesty.

What are some advantages of doing business in San Diego?

Why San Diego - Ace Parking

When I travel across the country to do business, it’s great to say that I'm from San Diego and that's where my company’s corporate headquarters are. I love promoting San Diego and talking about more than just our weather. People are interested and intrigued when I say we are not a cul-de-sac at the end of the road; San Diego is actually a Mega Gateway Region to the Pacific and the rest of the world, thriving with innovation. I love the fact that my office has been located in downtown San Diego for over 65 years.

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

I'm a big fan of other family companies, and I think the Spanos family is truly on top of their game. A.G. Spanos is now the CEO of the Chargers and it's amazing to see how dedicated this family and organization is to the San Diego community. They truly do want to live, work and play here. We must recognize the power of being an NFL city and do more to help them achieve their business goals within our region, so they can stay committed to having their team located in San Diego.

Another local company doing amazing and visionary things is OliverMcMillan. Dene Oliver, CEO, and Paul Buss, President of OM, are both at the top of their game. Their firm is widely admired for building exciting, breathtaking mixed-use projects all across the country. OliverMcMillan is a great ambassador of San Diego and is now considered the gold standard in transformational design and urban mega-block redevelopment in the United States.

 What do you anticipate for your company in five years?

In five years I want to remain a thriving, civically engaged family owned and operated company.  My belief is that if you uphold your team members and clients as paramount to your organization, then good things will happen both to the organization and to our customers.

What do you anticipate for San Diego?

San Diego needs to embrace that we have pressures on our infrastructure and must work as a community. We need to start making progress toward building up and growing up. If we accept regulation and prohibitive growth policies, then great opportunities that are currently in our region and those that may otherwise be attracted to our region will be forced to go elsewhere. The civic leaders we have in our community are very intelligent and capable individuals.  I'm excited to be part of the strategic dialogue as we transform our region.

September 15, 2014

Last week, we launched our Investor Spotlight series, which is designed to give everyone a closer look at the companies and people that make our economic development work possible. By connecting the dots, these investors give us a better understanding of how San Diego is leading the next wave of global growth. 

Pristine Environments Logo

This week, we sat down with Brian Snow, CEO of Pristine Environment, a facility management company that counts some of the world's biggest - and most cutting-edge - companies as its clients. When the world-renowned Venter Institute set out to develop the world's first Net Zero Lab that is also a LEED platinum certified , they called on  Pristine Environments and its sustainability team lead by Yann Palmore for help.. With a commitment to sustainability in mind, they collaborate with local companies and organizations, including SDSU and SDG&E, that share similar values.


1) Tell us about Pristine Environments
Pristine Environments’ manages, maintains and optimizes the performance of mission critical facilities for corporate real estate owners in nearly 75 Million of specialized buildings throughout North America. From life sciences, aerospace, datacenters, oil & gas, luxury retail, sports technology + fitness and commercial real estate, our team of  nearly 1,500 professionals keeps these industries buildings and facilitates operating efficiently, sustainably and on budget. 

Why Pristine Environments Chose San Diego

Most recently our building intelligence and energy solutions practice completed the construction of the worlds’ first “Net Zero Energy” laboratory campus in the world. Located in La Jolla, the J. Craig Venter Institute, the world’s leading genomics research organization, developed a new research  facility that is the first LEED Platinum building to achieve Net Zero. Remarkably, the building produces more energy than it uses and conserves and collects nearly as much water as it uses. Our facilities’ teams are providing these types of bleeding edge solutions to our clients throughout North America to help dramatically lower their energy and carbon foot print and to create a more intelligent built environment. 

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?
As the CEO of the company, I relocated to San Diego last year after having acquired a company located in the region, since our firm at the time did not have a presence in the western states. I had choice to stay working from our main corporate office in Washington DC or relocated to be closer to our new west coast offices. The decision to move to San Diego was much more than weather driven, I realized very quickly that running a company with offices all over North America was more efficient from the west coast. Taking advantage of the time zone difference has allowed me to create a better work life balance for my family, my working colleagues and myself. 

But now that I have been in San Diego for over a year, I have come to appreciate the depth of knowledge, experience and talent in this market that is uncommon. Most of our national customers have mission critical operations in Southern California and because the demands and regulatory challenges in our state are uniquely complex, being close to our clients and   operations, allows me greater insight into the solutions we need to stay competitive nationally. 

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
Lankford & Associates has been a prominent real estate developer in San Diego for over 30 years and are responsible for developing a number of well recognized buildings in the region. As the downtown core real estate market has become more of a tourist and business center, Lankford & Associates, has set out to redevelop a portion of downtown called “Makers Quarter” in East Village—the vision, passion and energy for this project has been driven by Stacey Lankford Pennington who has a goal of recreating this part of downtown into a blended mix of hip urban retail, a destination for innovative companies that want the ultimate balance between work, life and urban living. 

4) What's in store for Pristine Environments in the next five years?
Our company has made a long -term commitment to the region having moved a significant portion of our corporate finance, human resources, and IT operations to San Diego. This includes our CFO and his entire national accounting team along with our COO and Chief Sustainability Officer. We anticipate our investment in the market to continue as we look for additional investment and acquisition opportunities to acquire additional operating companies in the western region of the country. Our client base, which we referenced above, is continuing to grow throughout the region in numerous specialized sectors. Clients like Apple, SDG&E, SDSU and Scripps to name a few, have committed long term strategic capital and other resources to this region—we  expect to continue to serve these clients through their growth and benefit from the intellectual capital that our region is so well known for having created. 

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September 9, 2014

EDC has great investors. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, we have investors that are contributing to the local economy, creating jobs, mobilizing the community-at-large, and serving as the backbone of San Diego’s vibrant economy.  

Introducing the Investor Spotlight Series: Every week, we will take a closer look at one company or organization that is underwriting our economic development efforts. Not only do these companies accelerate our economy, but together, they are writing our regional narrative and illustrating how San Diego serves as a magnet for investment, talent and innovation. Their business decisions drive our region's economic growth and answer the question: Why San Diego?

Steve Stoloff, Founder and CEO, VaVI

To kick this series off, we spoke with Vavi Sports & Social Club CEO Steve Stoloff. Since 2002, VAVi Sport & Social Club has brought together adults who want to have fun in San Diego through a variety of sports leagues, social events, vacations and volunteer opportunities.  An Inc. 5000's fastest growing company, VAVi  has chosen to locate in San Diego, but the year round sunshine isn’t the only reason the region is the headquarters for this sports and active lifestyle company.  Behind the curtain is an entrepreneurial and innovative company that’s helping organizations across the country rethink the way they produce large scale events.

Here’s what Steve had to say:

1) Tell us about VAVi

VAVi brings fun to life!  We are Southern California’s largest organizer of co-ed social sports and activities for active young professionals. Over 90,000 members in San Diego participate in our softball, kickball, dodgeball and soccer leagues and attend our social events like the New Year’s Eve Beach Party at the Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach.  We also launched several 5k obstacle races, including the Del Mar Mud Run and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge 5k (better known as the ROC Race).  We also are very active in the community, and in the past few years, we’ve raised nearly $200,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation through our events and activities. 

2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?

VaVI Sports and Social Club

San Diego is the perfect home for a sports and active lifestyle business.  With perfect weather year-round, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and get active.  Our event calendar runs from January through December, with small breaks for the holidays.  We partner with similar organizations all across the country, and they have to shut down the majority of their activities during the winter months – that’s simply not the case here!   San Diego is also a great sports town, and the sports business community is thriving.  Organizations like San Diego Sport Innovators help bring like-minded entrepreneurs together and those connections accelerate innovation and growth!

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Carlsbad is home to the Action Sports and Olympics Division of the Wasserman Media Group.  Steve Astephen, John Lee and the Wasserman team represent athletes at the top of their game – they represented 25 athletes in the recent Winter Olympics held in Sochi, and 7 of their athletes medaled!   They are a leader in the Sports and Active Lifestyle industry, and are very active in the local business community. 

4) What’s in store for VAVi in the next five years?
I expect VAVi to continue to be the leader in adult recreational sports for many years to come.  In a world that’s increasingly digital, people need an outlet to unplug and have some fun.  Experiences are increasingly becoming a new form of luxury, and our events provide great conversation for the proverbial water cooler (not to mention, the photos are great Facebook fodder, too).   We are continuously adapting and innovating, so some of our events may no longer exist, but I’m sure we’ll come up with new ideas to take their place. 

5) What’s next for San Diego?

I expect San Diego to continue to grow and thrive just like VAVi.  Many of the brightest innovators and entrepreneurs in the country call San Diego home, and with organizations like EDC helping to support local economic development, I’m excited to see what the next five years has in store.

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