Co-Founders and cousins, Lenny Sciarrino and Lenny Pellegrino of Granite Gold.

By Tom York

Here’s another local success story in this very challenging year of COVID-19.

The Poway-based, family-owned stone-care business Granite Gold traces its history across three generations, all the way back to the 1950s. After the coronavirus struck with full force in March, the current owners decided to pivot from stone cleaner to anti-bacterial spray to help fill the surging-but-unmet demand for household cleaning products.

The new product, MicroGold, has become one of the best-sellers among anti-COVID-19 sprays. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency verified that MicroGold kills the coronavirus, and added it to its list of proven coronavirus spray cleansers.

The production line has gone crazy this year, according to a publicist for the company. Sales of the company’s new spray cleaner jumped 75%. And company revenues have tripled, she said. MicroGold is sold at major retailers everywhere and online at familiar shopping sites.

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Speaking of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a surprising result. Home sales in San Diego as well as other regions of the country are booming. And that trend is expected to continue for many years ahead, according to a report from web-based home equity lender Renofi. The average price of a San Diego home is predicted to double over the next 10 years. The report predicted the average price would jump to $1,145,000 in 2030 from $696,000 in 2020. Statewide, the price is expected to jump to $1,048,000 from $589,000, the Renofi report said. Nationwide, the average home price–now at $257,000–would be $382,000 ten years out.

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Solana Beach biotech company Evoke Pharma says it has launched its first commercial product. The brand-name product, Gimoti, hits the market just four months after getting FDA approval. That was in June. A company spokesperson says that Gimoti is the first approved nasal spray sufferers can use to help relieve symptoms associated with diabetic gastroparesis–a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty, resulting in bloating, nausea, pain and vomiting. The spokesperson said 16 million people in the U.S. suffer from the disorder. Evoke is a specialty pharma company focused on the developing drugs to treat GI disorders and diseases.

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Cable TV and internet service provider Cox Communications in partnership with the James M. Cox Foundation has awarded $250,000 in separate grants to two local nonprofits, San Diego’s Monarch School and Family Health Centers. A spokeswoman said the money was given to help slow the strain on hospitals and community organizations as COVID-19 cases increase. The K-12 Monarch School, with 300 students in the Barrio Logan district, got $150,000 to help students experiencing homelessness, and to help support distance learning as well as emergency housing, food assistance, and mental health services. Family Health Centers received $100,000 to boost its coronavirus response efforts, including testing at various sites countywide as well as funds to help process 1,000 tests weekly. The Cox Foundation is the charitable arm of Cox Enterprises, the parent of Cox Communications.

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The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center says it has contracted with World Trade Center San Diego to bring an export specialty center to the region. The center will advise small businesses in an effort to boost the number of firms in the region with the ability to export. Nikia Clarke, executive director, said the WTCSD will receive more money from the SBDC to expand its export portfolio of small businesses, hire a full-time worker and tap into SBDC’s business network to bring more companies into MetroConnect, its export accelerator program.

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It’s not front-page headlines here in San Diego, but a long-simmering dispute between far-away Armenia and Azerbaijan hit close to home last week.  The geopolitical conflict erupted into a full-fledge shooting war in recent weeks, with neighboring countries in the region lining up to take sides. In one case, Turkey is helping Azerbaijan with military support, including the use of drone strikes. Carlsbad satellite services provider and defense contractor Viasat found itself in the eye of that storm when several hundred noisy Armenian demonstrators armed with placards and flags showed up outside the company’s headquarters to protest the sale of drone parts and other aid to Turkey that are used to fight Armenia. The demonstration was an apparent success. Leaders of the group met with Ken Peterman, president of Viasat’s government systems business unit, who later announced that the company has ceased shipments of military-related products to Turkey.

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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