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Editorial: Three big deals could signal Conejo comeback

By   /   Monday, September 13th, 2010  /   Comments Off on Editorial: Three big deals could signal Conejo comeback

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The Conejo Valley stretch of the Highway 101 corridor is looking like an early winner as the economy emerges from the Great Recession.

We’re basing our judgment on one key factor — capital flows.

In just 10 days in late August and early September, capital raises worth more than $200 million were announced for the Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village area. Though the capital comes from just three transactions, the money will help grow businesses in a part of Southern California that we’ve previously described as a strong candidate to become the next Century City.

As reported in this issue of the Business Times, Velocity Capital, a relative newcomer to the area, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $175 million to originate and service small-balance commercial real estate loans. Velocity’s filing holds out the promise that the Conejo Valley, a longtime center for Countrywide Financial Corp., will continue to be a hub for innovation in financial services.

Speaking of innovation, Row 44, a Westlake Village-based technology company that’s bringing wireless Internet services to Southwest and possibly other airlines, has raised an additional $10 million in capital, bringing its haul for the year to roughly $37 million.

Finally, California United Bank of Encino is acquiring California Oaks State Bank, creating a financial institution with $650 million in assets that can serve as a bigger and more effective business banking enterprise for the entire East Ventura County area.

Capital raises have all sorts of economic benefits. They have multiplier effects as the money is put to work to hire people, rent vacant space and buy office supplies and equipment. They help put a signature on a region that’s already home to Dole Food Co., J.D. Power & Associates, Amgen and large operations for Baxter International and Verizon.

Moreover, the new capital flowing into the area will take the sting out of setbacks such as the departure of Farmers Insurance from a longtime operations center in Simi Valley.

Just a few years ago, we questioned how long the East Ventura County region could ride two large horses — Amgen and Countrywide. The answer is that the area is incubating new companies that play on the region’s strengths in finance and technology but create a more diverse mix of corporate headquarters.

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