Entrepreneurs at Founders First. Photo from the organization’s Facebook page

San Diego business accelerator Founders First CDC has created a new funding program to boost support for underrepresented entrepreneurs.

The accelerator said it will divide a $30,000 grant to support 10 business under its new Job Creators Quest Grant program. A spokesperson for Founders First said the money should “will reward diverse-led businesses … that have been able to retain and grow their workforce despite the pandemic.”

The money comes from a recent $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and $9 million Series A round of fund raising by the agency. Union Bank and Pacific Western Bank provided some of the funds needed.

Diverse founders can include Black, indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+, military veterans, female entrepreneurs and those businesses located in a low- to moderate-income area. Applications for the new grants close June 25.

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San Diego biotech industry association Biocom says it has established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Member Pledge “to help bring about lasting change in the industry in terms of opening opportunities to underserved populations.” President Joe Panetta explained in a news release, “We remain steadfast in creating and sustaining a more inclusive and equitable industry that extends across the entire country — which means supporting our member companies in this very mission.”

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Houston-based Investment bank England & Company, which focuses on the energy sector, has opened an office in San Diego. It’s the firm’s fourth office in the U.S. The investment bank said Tom Crews, who previously served as managing director for a Boston-based investment banking boutique and worked at a consulting firm in the energy sector, will run the office.

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San Diego global shipping service Airspace is partnering with Bay Area-based, environmentally-focused nonprofit Cool Effect to offset unwanted emissions and reduce the carbon footprint of its operations around the globe.

Airspace will help fund Cool Effect’s Cup of the Amazon project, which aims to help protect the Peruvian Amazon from deforestation and help communities there develop jobs outside of the logging industry.

Managing Director Marcel Andriessen said partnership “gives us a tangible way to offset the emissions of every single delivery we manage. This is only a first step of many we are taking to be carbon neutral.”

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San Diego-based tech firm Blue Sky Network will launch a new telecommunications service that has commercial as well as military uses. The new SkyLink service operates on the Iridium satellite telephone platform and regular cellular networks.

The technology can be used in many different situations, according to a spokeswoman. For example, a law enforcement officer in rural communities can use the service to call for backup where there is no radio or cellular service.

With the new service, a small commercial fishing boat operator can log daily catches, including location and time, to meet government regulations. Click here for more information.

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Centerplate, the food service provider forthe San Diego Convention Center, names Sufi Karaien as its new executive chef. Karaien previously served as the center’s senior executive sous chef under Daryl O’Donnell, who has moved to Tennessee to be closer to his family.

Meanwhile, the center says it reopens for post pandemic events starting Aug. 1. During the shutdown, the center has served as a temporary shelter for the homeless and an emergency shelter for the undocumented who came across the border.

The Monsaraz in Point Loma.

A new boutique hotel, The Monsaraz, opens in Pt. Loma. The hotel, the first in the neighborhood in more than a decade, sports 92 rooms, plus other amenities. The new property was developed by hospitality specialist Lamming Co. 

The hotel joins a number of new properties opening in recent months in the region, including two new ocean-front properties in Oceanside and another luxury beachfront property on the Encinitas-Carlsbad border.

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Finally, some really good news for the local economy…NBC 7 television news recently reported that 5,500 residents applied for a new business license in 2020 — the largest number since 2015 when 2,900 applications were processed.

Many of the applications were for online businesses, but the station reported there is a good mix of applications for brick-and-mortar operations, too, an encouraging sign that all those empty storefronts will be filled with new business.

The television news team reported that through mid-May, the city has processed 2,300 new businesses applications.

The number puts the city on pace to match or beat 2020’s record number of applications. Indeed, the number represents a six-year high for business licensees, according to the report at the station’s website.

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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