Pacific Coast Business Times Proudly serving Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties Tue, 28 Jul 2015 23:04:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Venoco asks Goleta for permission to move two truckloads of oil per day Tue, 28 Jul 2015 23:04:55 +0000 Venoco has asked the city of Goleta for emergency authority to move two truckloads per day of oil from its Ellwood facility to Santa Maria for the next 17 days.

Venoco said it was making the request so that lines and other facilities could be cleared in order to complete mandatory inspections.

Venoco said it would file for permits with the California Coastal Commission shortly.

In a letter, California State Lands Commission Executive Officer Jennifer Lucchesi said she supported the temporary permit.

Such a permit would “reduce the risk and magnitude” of any spill that took place while the inspections were being completed.

Venoco, which is privately held, operates several offshore platforms and the Ellwood facility is located onshore within the Goleta city limits.

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Bauerlein to keynote 2015 Spirit of Small Business awards Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:36:42 +0000
Ike Ikerd, general manager of Clean Seas. (Nik Blaskovich photo)

Ike Ikerd, general manager of Clean Seas. (Nik Blaskovich photo)


The Pacific Coast Business Times is pleased to announce our 2015 class of Spirit of Small Business award winners. The annual special section, now in its 13th year, celebrates small-business ownership and entrepreneurship in the Tri-Counties. The report published with the July 24 print edition of the Business Times. The honorees will be celebrated at an awards luncheon on Friday, Aug. 14 at Bacara Resort & Spa from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ali Bauerlein, co-founder and chief financial officer of Goleta-based Inogen, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

There were nine winners this year, all profiled in the print edition. They are:


Minimus: Harriet, Joel and Paul Shrater, co-founders


Meridian Consultants: Joe Gibson, Mark Austin and Tony Locacciato, founding partners


CompuVision: John Hunt, founder and CEO


SM Tire: Craig Stephens, president


Anderson Burton Construction: Joni Anderson and Fletcher Burton, founders


Salty Girl Seafood: Norah Eddy and Laura Johnson, owners


The Painted Cabernet: Maria Wilson, founder


Green Seas: Ike Ikerd, general manager


Pura Stainless, Roger and Jenifer Moore, co-founders

• For a copy of the section with profiles and photos of all the winners, pick up the July 25-31 print edition of the Business Times. Click here for newsstand locations, or call (805) 560-6950 to subscribe or order copies.

• To purchase tickets to the Spirit of Small Business Awards luncheon held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 16 at Bacara Resort & Spa, click here.


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UCSB named West Coast hub for Photonics Institute Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:00:39 +0000 UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency will play a lead role in a $110 million federal program to develop new electronic products using the next generation of chip technology.

UCSB will become the west coast hub for the newly formed American Institute for Manufacturing of Photonics (AIM), teaming with lead institution State University of New York Poly. The UCSB team will be led by IEE director John Bowers, a pioneer in the field of photonics or the use of light to transmit vast quantities of data at once-unheard-of speeds.

“AIM and UC Santa Barbara are leading a revolution,” said Bowers in a statement provided to the Business Times. UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang cited 30 years of leadership in the field of photonics at the campus, including three of UCSB’s Nobel prizes.

The institute was formally announced July 27 and it is the sixth public-private partnership launched under the Obama Administration’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program.

The home base for the new center will be in Rochester, N.Y., where Vice President Joe Biden was on hand for the official kick off. The institute will “”secure U.S. leadership in the manufacture of next-generation Internet, health care and defense capabilities,” according to excerpts of his speech released in advance.

The Defense Department will contribute $110 million to a fund that is expected to exceed $600 million when private and state commitments are added up.

New York pledged $250 million to support the effort, according to reporting by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Massachusetts and California also pledged state funds, the report said.

The Defense Department has long been a supporter of efforts in advanced photonics and imaging in areas such as radar and electronic warfare.

The grant is a shot in the arm for upstate New York, which has lost manufacturing jobs to Asia, Mexico and the southwestern U.S.

Corporate partners in developing manufacturing programs will include Intel, Hewlett Packard, Agilent, Lockheed and Raytheon, a major employer in Santa Barbara County.

Photonics has been a rich source of startups for the tri-county region, with companies such as Aurrion, Agility, Calient Networks, Soraa and others being spun out of research conducted by Bowers and others.

Getting the next generation of computer chips is important because photonic integrated circuits hold out the promise of using less energy than the current generation of switching devices.

Creating the new technology involves combining lasers with integrated circuits to improve speed and capacity. “UCSB is a worldwide leader in integrating lasers into silicon,” said UCSB College of Engineering Dean Rod Alferness in a statement.

Other participating universities include MIT, Stanford, University of Arizona, Cal Tech, Columbia University, the University of Virginia and UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.

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FDA approves Amgen’s Kyprolis Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:40:40 +0000 The Food and Drug Administration approved Amgen’s Kyprolis for second-line treatments of multiple-myeloma on Friday.

Thousand Oaks-based Amgen’s new treatment for multiple-myeloma could pay off big for the company now that the treatment can be accessed by more patients in the second line of treatments.

Kyprolis was approved for third-line treatments in 2012. The FDA’s approval comes less than a day after Amgen submitted additional data to the FDA about Kyprolis’s possible benefits as a second-line drug.

Multiple-myeloma is a blood cancer that forms in plasma cells and typically grows in bone marrow. According to the American Cancer Society, 27,000 Americans will be diagnosed with multiple-myeloma in 2015, and 11,000 will die from the disease. The National Cancer Institute said there were 90,000 Americans living with the disease in 2012.

Kyprolis works by preventing the breakdown of proteins in cancer cells, which cause the cancer cells to die. It was the cornerstone of Amgen’s $10.4 billion buyout of Onyx Pharmaceuticals in 2013.

“The expanded indication of Kyprolis provides patients with relapsed multiple myeloma a new therapeutic option, helping to address a real unmet need for this common blood cancer,” Sean Harper, executive vice president of research and development at Amgen, said in a news release.

Normally, the FDA takes 10 months to approve drugs or treatments for new uses. On March 30 though, the FDA announced it would use its expedited approval process, which can approve new treatments in as little as is six months.

Like many recent Amgen drugs, Kyprolis has been criticized for its high cost because it typically costs $10,000 per 28-day cycle.

The FDA approved Kyprolis using data from an Amgen study whose results were announced in December. The data showed that patients treated with a combination of Kyprolis and two other drugs lived 50 percent longer without their disease worsening than patients just treated with the other drugs.

Amgen will study the benefits of Kyprolis as a first-line treatment in its new CLARION study.

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Smart innovation key to business success Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:15:40 +0000 Smart business leaders know that there is an important distinction between risk taking and intelligent risk taking. It is the former that may make the headlines, but it is the latter that often leads to the greatest rewards.

There is an increasing awareness within the business community of the world of difference between innovation and smart innovation … and, in many cases, between innovation and progress. And it’s a good thing that these distinctions are becoming clear, as knowing the difference may very well separate winners from losers in the 21st Century.

Too often, people make the mistake of assuming that innovation automatically translates into progress, but that is not always the case. Innovation often causes disruption, and not all innovation provides true value to either the customer or the organization. Some innovation can cost employees jobs while others may come with significant upfront costs for the employer – costs that are difficult to recoup if the innovation doesn’t light up the pinball machine as intended. Restaurants who innovate too much may lose long-standing customers who love the comfort that the establishment provides, and poorly-focused innovation for an enduring product may damage that company’s brand (remember “New Coke?”).

The best kind of innovation is one that addresses a need, solves a problem that matters, and serves as a catalyst for growth. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review said that leaders hoping to boost their ability to drive growth through innovation need to simultaneously “direct it strategically, pursue it rigorously, resource it intensively, monitor it methodically, and nurture it carefully.” Those five truths provide solid footing for any company committed to the task.

Here are three other touchstones to consider:

•A 2013 study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited reported that just one quarter of millennial employees believe that business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster the development of new ideas. This number should be of concern. Companies can combat this statistic by challenging all employees throughout the organization to play an important role in the drive for smart innovation. Often times the frontline employees, not those in the C-suite, are the ones who hear what customers are saying and their input in the process allows the staff to take ownership, helps drive better value, and help ensure a successful outcome. Doing so requires creating an environment where employees have the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas in an unstructured setting in the coffee room, at company sponsored social events, during lunch breaks, etc. It means investing in training and encouraging employees to attend conferences and seminars where new ideas from outside of the industry could trigger great ideas for inside the industry. It also means making sure that all employees, whether they are in the field or sitting behind a desk, have the opportunity to hear customer feedback as that is a great source of idea generation. You never know where you might find a new Rembrandt so don’t take the brushes away.

•Focus on innovation that provides true value to the customer. Doing so can give an organization the kind of competitive advantage that results in top-line growth and bottom-line results. Our company, for example, sits squarely at the intersection of healthcare and technology, two industries where innovation is central to success in the wake of the increased consumer demands and regulatory requirements being placed upon us. While no one individual or one company has a patent on innovation, it is the one vital quality that our industry must embrace if we are to continue to move the needle forward. The emergence of electronic medical records is one example where healthcare and technology have come together to create positive innovation in quality and efficiency. Such opportunities exist across all industries throughout corporate America. Find yours.

•Research conducted by Accenture revealed that more than 90 percent of executives believe long-term success depends on their ability to develop new ideas. But it is only when those ideas are turned into action that true innovation occurs. To take that critical step, employers need to be willing to dedicate the right resources to make it happen. Otherwise, executives may be calling it a waltz but they are merely shuffling their feet. Once done, companies need to continually assess what works and what doesn’t and then be flexible enough to adjust when necessary. Much of this comes down to company culture. Never underestimate the important role of organizational culture in enabling organizations to translate innovative activity into tangible performance improvements.

More than ever, business leaders need to pursue and embrace the kind of innovation that benefits the consumer, makes the system work more efficiently, and helps create a winning culture within the workplace. Some call it “the evolution of convenience, efficiency and effectiveness.” In short, smart innovation.

• Tom Peterson is president and chief executive officer at Westlake Village-based Clear Vision Information Systems.

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Proposed peaker plant in Oxnard bad idea because of flood vulnerability Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:00:03 +0000 Reliability is the key point emphasized in the Pacific Coast Business Times editorial July 17 (Oxnard peaker plant should be approved).

During the CPUC evidentiary hearings held in May regarding the NRG proposal, the city of Oxnard provided proof based on state of the art scientific evidence that storm surge patterns and sea level rise modeling indicate that the plant location may be inundated by coastal flooding by 2030, within the early life of the proposed plant.

Additional scientific evidence shows that the newly discovered earthquake fault between Goleta and Santa Monica puts the coast at the Mandalay Generating Station at risk for a tsunami event. These are potential hazards and all California coastal jurisdictions must consider such dangers when doing coastal and emergency planning and preparedness.

So why choose vulnerability over reliability?

You make the assertion that “it is a cost-effective way to transition from the ugly existing power stations at Mandalay Beach to a source of power that will increase grid reliability across the Ventura and Santa Barbara county portions of Southern California Edison’s territory.” What is this statement based on?

I understand that another company proposed to build the replacement power source in an inland industrial location, close to the existing transmission lines. SCE rejected this proposal.

As SCE has had a long relationship with NRG, one might reasonably ask if this relationship is too cozy at the expense of Oxnard and the ratepayers?

The public is not allowed to see the details of the other proposals and to assess whether or not they might be better for the entire region as well as Oxnard.

The current criminal investigations of misdeeds at the CPUC by some current and former commissioners, including improper, private communications and dealings with energy companies and investor-owned utilities, do not engender confidence in the process.

For too long, consumers and ratepayers have had little influence over the process of rate setting, siting, permitting and contracts for energy production and distribution. But thanks to the tireless work of many advocates, the fairness and appropriateness of the entire process is being scrutinized here in Oxnard and everywhere in our state.

At the July 15 CPUC public participation hearing, hundreds of local residents appeared. Most speakers were opposed to NRG’s proposal.

While a small number were in support, their concerns were understandably about the need for jobs. Let it be noted that NRG’s proposed new plant will only require 17 permanent jobs. However, there will be construction jobs in our region wherever the replacement plant is built. And there will be plenty of good jobs with the demolition of the Mandalay station. There will be no job loss if NRG’s proposed power plant is not built on Oxnard’s beach.

We should question use of the phrase “social justice crowd” and so forth. Is this meant to denigrate people who want to see social, economic and environmental justice? I hope not. California’s economic future and the health and prosperity of all of its residents depend on social justice, which will give an equal chance for everyone to excel and compete in the national and world economy.

We do not just accept the existing power company’s vague promises to remove and clear threats to leave their rusting behemoths on our most beautiful but abused coast.

Finally, if reliable electricity is what we want and need, responsible decision makers will not put critical infrastructure on the coast.

I am proud to say that the city of Oxnard is officially taking a strong stand against further unwise and risky exploitation of our coastal resources.

• Carmen Ramirez is the mayor pro tem of the city of Oxnard. She writes as an individual council member and not on behalf of the Oxnard City Council.

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Haggen finds it’s tough to be third competitor for tri-county shoppers Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:45:47 +0000 The point of anti-trust regulators forcing Albertson’s and Safeway to sell off 146 supermarkets in order to allow for the two companies to merge was to create a viable third competitor in the market.

That role was eagerly claimed by Haggen Inc., an independent grocery and pharmacy chain based in the state of Washington whose bold expansion was financed in large part with cash from a private equity fund that is its majority owner.

Haggen scooped up all of the stores, including more than 20 Albertson’s or Vons and Safeway locations in the Tri-Counties. It rolled out its big green logo with a lot of fanfare.

But lately, the green light is flashing yellow. The company has reduced hours for workers and had spot reductions. Consumers are complaining that prices aren’t as good as they are elsewhere.

And then Albertson’s sued Haggen over a multi-million dollar payment for inventory. Haggen says the suit is baseless and that it shouldn’t have to pay.

Between workforce problems, cranky consumers and the lawsuit, the Haggen rollout is not looking nearly as smooth as it was billed to be when the ambitious schedule was announced this spring.

And the problems with Haggen and Safeway-Albertson’s-Vons are a gift to Kroger, the nation’s biggest grocery company and the parent of the Ralph’s chain in Southern California.

The bottom line is that Haggen has stumbled coming out of the gate and it must regroup fast if it wants to retain customers and polish up its brand in the Tri-Counties.

If it can’t regain its footing, somebody else will want to operate in the most desirable locations.

But the goal of having a three-way contest for grocery store dominance will not have been reached.

Deal will be missed

Ann Deal was the real deal.

She built her brassiere and lingerie company, Fashion Forms, from scratch in Ventura, creating a line of clothing with mass appeal. Along the way she was a philanthropic soul, serving with our editor on the board of the California State University Channel Islands Foundation.

Operating a small company in the big world of fashion is hard. But Deal always had an upbeat attitude, a cheerful presence and a wonderful way of lighting up the room.

She’s moving her company to Austin, Texas, another great area for culture and educated workers. But she and her company will be missed.

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