Sun Genomics’ Floré precision probiotics product. Courtesy of the company

By Tom York

San Diego’s gut health startup Sun Genomics, which is developing a series of direct-to-the-consumer probiotics based on whole genome sequencing, has announced the final close of $9.25 million Series A fundraising.

The investors participating in the round include K3 Ventures, a firm notable for its early-round investments in SpaceX, Airbnb and TikTok. Pangaea Ventures led the round.

As part of the announcement, the San Diego bio-startup also listed a series of accomplishments, including an immune health supplement, the results of a study with Arizona State University and an appointment of a VP of Growth and of a scientific advisor from UC San Diego.

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The FAA has awarded San Diego International Airport two grants worth $18 million. A news release says the amount is the largest ever awarded for that agency’s Quieter Home Program. The FAA has determined that residences lying within a 65 to 69 decibel level around the airport could be eligible for sound insulation treatments. The grants will be used to insulate from 200 to 400 homes each year in areas most impacted by jet noise.

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Meanwhile, the number of air travelers flying in and out of San Diego has dropped considerably due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But those who do manage to make it to the airport are in for an artistic treat. The airport is showcasing the work of Margaret Noble as a performing arts resident. According to a release, the audiovisual work is a collection of animated “scrolls” accessible through personal devices such as phones, tablets and laptops. For more information, wing on over to arts.san.org.

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Digital car buying advisory startup CoPilot has released a report detailing how COVID-19 has impacted commute times nationwide. The group found that Oceanside commuters were able to reduce their commuting time by 12% during the pandemic, while Temecula workers found their commutes reduced around 14.5%. Californians spent 11.6% of their work week—about 5 hours—in commutes before the pandemic. The total number of workers commuting by car had grown over the past 10 years, reaching 118 million in 2018. Before the shelter-in-place orders, about three-quarters of the workers drove to work alone.

The Triton cruises off Point Loma. Courtesy of the charter company

There is a new boat charter in town, and the center piece of the operation is quite the vessel. Triton Charters opened for business last month after the arrival of San Diego’s newest—and biggest—catamaran: The Triton. The boat, which is 75 feet wide and can hold up to 105 passengers, recently pulled into port at Shelter Island to conclude a 28-day trip from Galveston, Texas. That size, by the way, makes it the largest catamaran to enter the San Diego market, according to a company spokesperson.

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Real estate investment firm Elion Partners has acquired a 110,663-square-foot last-mile industrial distribution building on Pioneer Way in El Cajon. The $16.3 million acquisition marks the firm’s official entry into the West Coast real estate market. The company has offices in Miami, New York and Seattle. The firm said it is pursuing an investment strategy focused on first, middle and last-mile properties, targeting infill locations in high-growth urban markets throughout the country.

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Sycuan Casino Resort reopens its Elicit Asian Restaurant & Lounge after a recent five-month shutdown. The casino dining spot sports an expanded menu, which includes pho, ramen and yakisoba options, new sushi rolls and a variety of bao buns like braised beef, chicken katsu, pork belly and more.  Patrons can indulge in a $25 All-You-Can-Eat Sushi offering on Thursdays.

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Retail may be all but down as the pandemic continues, but one national retailer has arrived to buck the trend. New Jersey-based discount retailer Burlington Stores has opened a new store on Dennery Road in San Diego. The store will employ up to 100 associates, a publicist said. But the store  continues to hire, so click on the link for details.

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Ed Muna, a 30-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, announced the launch of a new firm National Lease Advisors, which will offer portfolio advisory services to small-and mid-size companies that have been historically overlooked by the industry.

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To keep pace with hiring demands and help get job seekers eager to get back to work, San Diego’s McDonald’s restaurants will host a drive-up hiring day initiative on Sept. 16. The event offers candidates a new, convenient and safe way to find work. Interested candidates simply drive up to select San Diego County McDonald’s locations to interview on the spot. No prior scheduling required. Interviews will be conducted using proper distancing as required during the pandemic. Applicants can stay in their vehicles or go to designated interview areas.

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Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have announced that they will increase the support of California wildfire relief efforts with up to $1 million in cash and in-kind product donations, greatly increasing a $250,000 donation to the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross in August. With the new commitment, the agencies will receive $350,000 each to help with feeding and sheltering individuals affected by the fires in California, Oregon and Washington, along with product donations valued up to $50,000.

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Finally. According to a SANDAG report just released, bicycling in San Diego has jumped 42% since the pandemic hit with full force in March. Apparently, cooped-up residents are looking for ways to stay active and get outside — so bicycling is just what the doctor ordered, says Joshua Bonnici, a spokesman for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Bonnici said bike shops are greatly benefiting from the trend. “They have been besieged with service calls for bikes brought out of storage, and people purchasing bikes,” he said. “My bike shop was backed up three weeks when I needed a repair in April.” Bonnici also notes that e-bikes are a great option for older riders, where minimal power is required. Using routes that are flat and open, or with wide roads and slower speed limits, can allow riders of any age and experience enjoy riding on two-wheels!

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.

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