Small business owner. Photo courtesy Small Business Administration

San Diego lagged other U.S. cities when it came to starting a business during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s according to a recent study published by personal financial services website WalletHub.

America’s finest city ranked No. 39 on its list, lagging far behind No. 1 Laredo, TX, and No. 2 Durham, NC. The study used 21 key measures, including such factors as the five-year business-survival rate, the number of local COVID-19 cases and office-space affordability, to establish the rankings.

Interestingly, four cities from California arch-competitor Texas ranked in the top ten, including Austin and Fort Worth, while Florida and North Carolina had two each: Orlando and Tampa and Charlotte and Raleigh. For a complete rundown on the study, go here.

The study notes that “Americans are born with an entrepreneurial streak. From the Gold Rush to the Industrial Revolution to the Internet Age, intense periods of innovation have molded our economy. That said, now is one of the toughest times ever for business owners … due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made 61 million small-business owners regret starting a business.”

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Local women’s coworking office provider Hera Hub is launching what it calls a hybrid, or corporate flex plan, in response to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hub founder Felena Hanson said the new plan will allow businesses to provide workspace for their workers while allowing for more flexibility. Hera Hub has three locations in San Diego, plus sites in Temecula and Irvine.

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A veteran attorney with expertise in management, communications and advocacy has been name executive director of the Lawyers Club of San Diego. The attorney, Laura Handzel, succeeds Elaine Lawrence who recently retired after leading the group for the past 10 years. The club, founded in the early 1970s “to advance the status of women in the law and society,” now has 1,100-plus members, mostly attorneys, judges, elected officials, business owners and law students. Men, as well as women, are members. According to the club, Handzel has worked at the federal, state, and local levels to implement sound law and policy, and has conducted grassroots advocacy in at-risk communities across the United States. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s law school. For more information, visit lawyersclubsandiego.com.

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A renovated room at the Ocean Park Inn. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The landmark Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach has reopened after a year-long renovation. The work includes an updated exterior, pool deck and lounge. Hotel executive Elvin Lai, whose family has operated the landmark hotel since 1967, said a fourth and final phase of the renovation will include a guest-only surf and pool bar. The work is expected to be completed in 2022.

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San Diego large animal and big cat sanctuary Lions Tigers & Bears is hosting local screenings of a new documentary “The Conservation Game” on May 7 and 8. In the documentary, a retired police officer stumbles upon a bombshell discovery when he suspects that some of the world’s highest profile celebrity conservationists may be tied to the illegal trade in big cats. One of the tigers featured in the film, Nola, is now held at the local sanctuary. For showings and tickets, click here.

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Ocean Beach resident Rebecca Goodman becomes one of the first recipients of interest-free loans made through the new Hebrew Free Loan of San Diego. The program aims to help local Jewish residents by providing interest-free loans. Goodman had previously defrayed her undergraduate degree costs through a loan from Hebrew Free Loan San Francisco. After relocating to San Diego pre pandemic, Goodman lost her job. With the help of a $10,000 loan, she is studying to become a licensed clinical therapist. For more information about the program, visit hflsd.org.

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Well, this is something a little different. Coldwell Banker West, one of the region’s largest residential real estate firms, has opened a new office inside a tearoom in Oceanside. The tearoom, Bliss Tea & Treats (and the new real estate office), can be found in a storefront on Mission Boulevard at North Cleveland Street. Coldwell branch manager Jason Nagy said the idea was to collaborate with a business that could provide space for sales activities while allowing the tearoom to boost its business in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. The tearoom receives help with its rent and other overhead as part of the deal. “Our agents consider Bliss a hub where they can drop by, make calls and drink a bit of tea before heading out to appointments,” said Nagy. “It’s also a unique setting for client meetings, and the unique vibe that has been created is really fantastic.”  For more information, visit coldwellbankerwesthomes.com, and to see what’s on the menu at Bliss, visit BlissTeaTreats.com.

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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