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SLO Biz Pulse: What’s Up ….. What’s Not

May 26,2014
Growing Passenger Traffic Heats Up Search For More Flights To SLO

The latest airline passenger count from April at San Luis Obispo airport shows traffic up 17.5% from a year earlier, the fifth month in a row that  passenger numbers are up double digit. “It just shows improvement in the economy and how the local  community supports their airport” says airport manager and Cal Poly grad Kevin Bumen. “It’s a great selling point when we talk to airlines about adding more service here.”
Bumen says while there is no word from United about possible flights between SLO and Denver after a several year lobbying effort – they are  waiting around to knock on other doors. Bumen says he recently met with Frontier Airlines who also flies to Denver from Fresno and Bakersfield. Plus he is on the prowl for more. Could we get a Southwest, Alaska or SF-based Virgin Airlines who says they want to expand the number of their West Coast communities?The company flies mostly to larger cities but also some smaller ones like Palm Springs, about thew same population as SLO. They fly an Airbus 319, 124 seat jet.

Bikes Pump Up SLO Economy

San Luis Obispo, considered a mountain biking and road biking paradise, is also home to growing number of firms that make cycling their business. Global bike component maker Sram,who bought SLO-based Truvativ back in 2004, continues to expand here. Local spokesman Anthony Medaglia says “we’ll be moving into two adjacent buildings across from the airport next March with a combined 20,000 sf, more than double our current facility size.”  The buildings are under construction.The SLO Sram center here is a product development center,not manufacturing he says.”Our facility specializes in development of drivetrain components including cranksets, bottom brackets, chainrings, and front derailleurs.  We are one of eight product development centers in the global Sram organization.”
“Since then (2004) we’ve grown from just a few employees in the San Luis Obispo facility to over thirty and are continuing to add more to our team.”

Education: JG Boswell Foundation To Give $8 Mil To Cal Poly

San Joaquin Valley farmer James G Boswell’s foundation will give Cal Poly $8 million to establish the “J.G. Boswell Agricultural Research Center” at the SLO campus the college announced in the past week. Plans for the new research center include facilities such as laboratories to support sensory, food safety, plant pathology, enology and genomics. This will allow students from Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science department to do front-line agricultural research.The Center is planned for the middle of Cal Poly’s campus, on the site now occupied by the remainder of Building 52, a decades-old science building that was partially demolished several years ago to make way for the construction of the new Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics. Construction on the $25 million Boswell Center is expected when the balance is raised. In addition to the Boswell Foundation’s $8 million pledge, Cal Poly has secured pledges of up to $5 million, for a total of $13 million.

SLO County Budget Up/Bond Rating Higher

Fitch Ratings has recently upgraded San Luis Obispo County’s Pension Obligation Bonds series making it less expensive for the county to borrow money. ”An upgrade at the end of an economic downturn is quite an accomplishment” said Jim Erb, County Auditor.
Also this month. the County announced that for the first time in years in FY 2014-15, the County is projecting a budget surplus of approximately $5.8 million. Back in 2009 there was some $30 million in red ink. County administrator Dan Buckshi says “Numerous signs, including increases in home prices, building permits, sales tax,property tax revenues, and Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT), are reflective of an improving economy. The small surplus allowed staff to recommend a budget that begins to restore, and in some cases, increase service levels to support the vision, mission, and community wide results.”

Col Poly N EmB PlanEmbarcadero North Plan: Morro Bay Could Add Rooftop Restaurants

What do you do with that area north of the power plant in Morro Bay, now that plant is shut down? Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Architecture and Environmental Design have been carrying out an exercise to envision the Embarcadero North area with its uncoordinated mix of industrial uses, power plant, trailer parks ,sand dunes and open space. Three teams of students offered their vision to the city Planning Commission in May that all call for a large roundabout at the terminus of Hwy 41 and Hwy 1. All tie this access impaired area back to Downtown and the Embarcadero but offer alternative scenarios for the revitalization and reutilization of the power plant based on intensity of urban development.The most intense and wildest is leaving the landmark stacks and building a minor league stadium next to them.Nearby would be boutique hotels and rooftop restaurants  connected by green space and paths.  Lower intensity plans offer a vision of smaller visitor enterprises, campgrounds, park land and pathways that tie it all together.

Drought Hurts Farm Jobs

With a large agricultural and farming base, San Luis Obispo County has been severely impacted by the statewide drought, losing 200 jobs from December 2012 to December 2013. The job loss resulted in a negative growth rate of 3.4%. The State of California is currently experiencing the one of the worst droughts in its 163-year history, as the lack of rainfall has nearly depleted water reserves throughout the State.

Avocado Crop Will Be Down This Year

Savor that guacamole,the California Avocado Commission Pre-season estimates indicate a 2014 crop volume of approximately 300 million pounds. That compares with a 500 million pound crop last year but a comparable crop size to the 10/11 crop year.

SLO County Jobless Rate Falls To 6-Year Low

The unemployment rate in the San Luis Obispo County was 5.2 percent in April 2014, down from a revised 6.1 percent in March 2014, and below the year-ago estimate of 6.3 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 7.3 percent for California and 5.9 percent for the nation during the same period. The 5.2 percent rate is the lowest in SLO County since May 2008  – before the Great Recession.The current report says in April there were 1400 more nonfarm jobs than there were a year ago.The report says the county’s labor force has declined by almost 1% in the past year.

Foot Golf Could Help Rounds At Local Course

Like the rest of the nation’s golf courses who are seeing lower rounds of traditional golf being played,Los Osos-based Sea Pines Golf Course is experimenting with new variations on the game to attract a younger crowd. They added Frisbee Golf a few years ago and now are installing a FootGolf course in coming months.Somewhere between soccer and golf  – similar rules apply to FootGolf, except one kicks a soccer ball nine holes instead of putting a golf ball. The hole is bigger to accommodate the size of a soccer ball.There are some 25 California courses that are adding the sport this year including in Visalia and Madera in the Valley.

Mortgage Rates Fall Again

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this past week for a fourth straight week. The low rates could give a boost to the spring home-buying season, which has started slowly. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year loan declined to 4.14% from 4.20% last week.

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