The Year in Review 2009
The top stories, revisited
Scroll down to read the top Business Times stories of 2009 by topic and to view a month-by-month timeline of highlights (and lowlights) from the year.
Top stories by topic:
• Stimulus funds flood the region
[published Nov. 6, 2009] Stimulus dollars have poured into the Tri-Counties since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in February … [read more]
[published Nov. 13, 2009] The tri-county region has lost more than 30,000 jobs in the past two years, with Ventura County suffering the worst declines … [read more]
BANKING & FINANCE
• $50M dash for cash sealed Affinity deal
[published Sept. 4, 2009] Just three days before scooping up failed Ventura-based Affinity Bank on Aug. 28, San Diego-based Pacific Western Bank gave a $50 million signal that it was in acquisition mode [read more].
[published Nov. 6, 2009] Pacific Capital Bancorp lost $40.7 million in the third quarter but held its capital position steady … [read more]
[published Sept. 11, 2009] When Banco BuenaVentura was rolled out in Oxnard less than a year ago, it catered almost exclusively to the area’s Hispanic community, but in light of its Sept. 21 closure … [read more]
A wave of bankruptcies and foreclosures is slamming tri-county residential and commercial developers who started projects a few years before the credit markets crashed … [read more]
• Franchise paradise — Business model gains ground in recession
In a down economy, franchising is becoming more popular, with owners looking to franchise their businesses and potential entrepreneurs looking to buy franchised businesses … [read more]
FLASHBACKS FROM 2009
• The Business Times reports a bleak forecast for the year, following 1,780 jobs cuts in the region in December 2008. Most sectors will be flat or down in 2009, except for bright spots in health care and technology, which are expected to get government backing, says local economist Bill Watkins. As the state contemplates that it might run out of cash by February, the public sector prepares to drastically shed jobs as well.
• Job losses continue into the second month of the year, as Ventura County sheds 500 jobs in 15 short days. Some of those jobs are continued fallout from the acquisition of crippled lender Countrywide Financial by Bank of America. Others come from the global downturn in manufacturing and yet others come from the biotechnology and solar industries.
• Although the state legislature managed to plug California’s $42 billion budget gap by March, road infrastructure projects are put on hold and state workers are still uncertain about the future of their jobs. Ventura County prepares to take a permanent $1 million hit to its transportation budget and Santa Barbara County prepares for a temporary $1.5 billion hit from a three-month gas tax deferral. SLO County is also forced to defer the $600,000 per month gas tax it receives.
• Former Vice President Al Gore and an array of world leaders, including energy mogul T. Boone Pickens and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, spend three days in Goleta at the ECO:nomics conference.
• The Business Times publishes its first Green Coast special section. The report highlights the region as a leader in green technology and innovation.
• Tri-county universities could lose more than $320 million in state funding, following California’s May 19 special election. Voters statewide crushed five of the six propositions designed to prevent a $21 billion state deficit,
rejecting the bundle of legislation that included spending limits, increased reserve funds, sustained tax increases and restored education funding. The only proposition to pass May 19 was 1F, a measure that limits legislative pay increases in deficit years.
• The Jesusita Fire roars through the South Coast, leaving an $120 million on damages in its wake.
• The Business Times reports in June that tight credit markets and slumping revenue are forcing more entrepreneurs into bankruptcy. By June, tri-county bankruptcy filings have shot up nearly 65 percent over the year prior. The court doesn’t break out business bankruptcies in its data, but just a few filings include small firms and entrepreneurs as diverse as a flooring contractor, a filmmaker, a chiropractor and a Santa Barbara firm that makes molded foam cases for consumer electronics and the U.S. military.
• After state lawmakers fail to strike a budget deal by their June 30 deadline, the region’s public universities brace themselves for massive budget cuts. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, says it could be forced to trim its budget by more than $33 million in its fiscal year and the University of California, Santa Barbara predicted that it would be forced to make between $40 million and $45 million in budget cuts.
• The death of international pop legend Michael Jackson has the world mourning and people flooding to his Neverland Ranch near Los Olivos. The Business Times does a feature on local contractor Tony Urquidez, who worked on projects at Neverland and formed a friendship with Jackson.
• The Business Times predicts that Bank of Santa Barbara, then owned by a Michigan parent company, is headed for sale. Later that month, it reports that Ventura County Business Bank is doing everything it can to raise capital. [See page 10A for full banking recap stories.]
• Westlake Village-based Dole Food Co. files regulatory papers Aug. 14 to raise as much as $500 million by selling shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Other large private companies, as well as analysts, watch curiously; a successful IPO could mean the markets are coming back to life.
• In the biggest single round of venture capital financing announced this year in the Tri-Counties, Carpinteria-based medical device maker ValenTx raises $22 million on Sept. 8.
• After much consumer anticipation, and nervousness on the part of other upscale grocers, Whole Foods opened a store in Santa Barbara on Oct. 7.
• Hoping to carve out a role for nanotechnology in treating life-threatening diseases, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a medical research institute in San Diego County form a multimillion-dollar partnership to house a research center at UCSB.
• Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke makes a rare and fleeting appearance at the posh Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta to deliver a speech on U.S.-Asian trade relations.
• Nov. 3 elections throughout the Tri-Counties steered away from business regulation but toward more liberal candidates. In Santa Barbara, residents rejected Chamber of Commerce President Steve Cushman in favor of Helene Schneider. Two height limit ordinances, in Ventura and Santa Barbara, were turned down, as was a sales tax increase and a measure to limit large retail stores in Ventura.
• Pacific Gas & Electric announces that it is preparing to seek approval to study a future wave energy project located off the California coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base.