By Tom York
Business at 5-month-old Rancho Santa Fe-based startup Zappogen, which makes devices and chemicals to disinfect unwanted pathogens, has been on a tear thanks to the opportunities brought on by the coronavirus.
According to a news release, the company expects revenue to exceed $10 million in its first year. The business has partnerships with a number of local businesses, including Welk Resorts, Dave’s Hot Chicken and Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
Zappogen was co-founded by South Africa-trained MD Jack Shevel, now a San Diego resident. Shevel, possessing over three decades of experience in hospital management, founded another company, Netcare in 1996, which he says “drastically” improved private healthcare for millions of Africans. Shevel runs his new business with son, Sean, and daughters Daniella, Jessica and Gabi.
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There is a new business accelerator on the immediate horizon. The Rady School of Management says it will launch StartBlue, a new accelerator with a focus on solving ocean-related challenges, in late 2021 at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. According to a news release, the accelerator will invest in startups that are “devising solutions” to ocean-related challenges that can then be integrated into science, industry and government. The accelerator is being funded by the federal Economic Development Administration, which is providing $328,542, a sum that will be matched by members of the Scripps Director’s Council among other sources. Over the coming months, 10 teams will be selected to become the first class for the eight-month program.
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After a decade-long hiatus, Alaska Airlines has re-launched seasonal service to popular Mexican destination Cancún from San Diego International Airport. The Cancún service will operate four times a week until April 12 and provide a nonstop route to Mexico without the need to switch planes in a regional hub. The airline has also launched nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale, according to a spokesperson for the airport, with three weekly flights available.
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Local commercial real estate developer IQHQ says it recently raised an additional $1.7 billion in equity from existing partners. The money was raised just nine months after its first $770 million development fund. IQHQ says it is now positioned to pursue planned projects that include 4.4 million square feet of life sciences space in other markets, including San Francisco. IQHQ made headlines recently when it acquired five of seven blocks of the Navy Gateway project where it will develop a $1.5 billion biotech campus. The property had been owned by high-profile local developer Doug Manchester.
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Clean energy technology startup Nuvve Corp., which recently raised $70 million in a merger agreement with Newborn Acquisition Corp., has announced a collaboration with Canadian-based bus and vehicle maker Lion Electric. The deal will enable electric utilities to store power on large trucks and school buses until it is needed on the grid. The Nuuve announcement closely follows a deal reached with school bus manufacturer Blue Bird to install storage technology on its electric buses. Gregory Poilasne, CEO and chairman of Nuvve, said, “There are many use cases for vehicles like school buses, delivery fleets, and refuse trucks parked for many hours during the day and overnight that make their batteries ideal for what V2G can do to stabilize the grid.” V2G stands for vehicle-to-grid, the technology that the firm has developed. Nuvve and Lion have already demonstrated the technology in pilot projects in California and New York.
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The North County coastal enclave of Leucadia will soon have a new type of convenience store that will cater to partygoers in a hurry. The name of the store and concept is MRKT SPACE. North County resident Matt Power says he opened a similar concept store two years ago in Australia, a country where the convenience store is a popular fixture. Power says the store will focus on stocking the essentials needed for entertaining, such as beer, wine and cheese, plus hot coffee and prepared foods such as pizza and pasta. He says he’ll try to feature products sourced from the region. The store will open in May in the Beacons development on Highway 101.
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And last, but certainly not least. The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll when many hotels were forced to close under the state-mandated shutdown. The closures resulted in the layoffs of thousands of workers, many of whom remain unemployed. In September, the San Diego City Council passed legislation requiring hotels–among other large businesses–to rehire those employees based on seniority. Now in a growing controversy, Carlsbad’s elected leaders are all set to enact a similar ordinance on Dec. 8. The ordinance would apply to hotels employing 200 or more workers within the city limits. Only five properties are affected, including La Costa, the city’s high-profile recreation resort, the Aviara Park Hyatt, which sits above Batiquitos Lagoon, and the Legoland Hotel located at the famous theme park. The proposal has caused quite a stir in local political circles, given that labor unions have recently contributed to the campaigns of councilmembers who appear poised to OK the measure. Opponents include the city’s Chamber of Commerce and veteran pro-business Mayor Matt Hall, who has received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the hotel industry. A statewide bill for a “right to recall” was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.