Biz Briefs

Dec. 25, 2014 Business News & Announcements—Compiled by Camas Frank

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments is among the best in the nation according to a new report released last week by “Transportation for America,” a new guidebook for the staff and board members of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. The guide showcases best practices from across the country to showcase ways organizations can help their communities prosper. SLOCOG is highlighted in the guidebook as a national leader and a model for others to follow. Specifically, the report praises SLOCOG’s “Community 2050 Regional Blueprint” for its land use scenario planning. “We’re working to improve the lives of people in the San Luis Obispo region,” said Ron DeCarli, executive director of SLOCOG. “We already see this happening, but it is great to know that our successes are being recognized nationally, and can serve as a model for other states and regions.” The Innovative MPO is available online at www.t4america.org/the-innovative-mpo.

Organizations looking to put on special events in Morro Bay can apply now for grants to assist them in staging their shows. The Morro Bay Tourism Bureau has applications posted on its website, see: www.MorroBay.org/grants. Hard copies are available at the Visitor’s Center, 255 Morro Bay Blvd., (daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau Office, 850 Shasta Ave., (Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). The Tourism Bureau is the business arm of the Tourism Business Improvement District and has a primary goal of increasing motel occupancy, and so has traditionally supported events with the potential of bringing in visitors for overnight stays. The deadline for completed applications is 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.

SESLOC Federal Credit Union has sponsored the “Zoomtown ATM” at the SLO Children’s Museum. Zoomtown is the name of the museum’s second-floor mini village, where the ATM has been a popular stop since the museum reopened in 2008. “We were so excited when the ATM exhibit became available,” said Kelli Beck, senior vice president of marketing and service management at SESLOC, “because the exhibit gives us the opportunity to promote youth education in a fun atmosphere of learning, creativity and innovation. It was a natural fit.” The ATM, familiar for its brightly-colored keys, engaging display and interactive screen, allows kids to slide a numbered ATM card and enter a PIN to begin a transaction. The screen prompts children to calculate simple banking transactions that debit from their “pretend account,” teaching them to basic banking and math terminology.

SLO County has received new credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services with an upgrade from AA- to AA+ for revenue bonds, implying AAA rating for general obligation bonds, the highest rating issued. “We’re coming out of the economic downturn in better shape than we entered into it, and these ratings reflect how effective our fiscal policies have been over the past seven years,” said County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector Jim Erb. The County also maintained an A rating for the Nacimiento water revenue bonds, but the Lopez Dam revenue bond rating was lowered from an A+ to an A due to a change in how S&P reviews and analyzes the bonds, Erb explained. S&P is touted as the world’s “leading provider of independent credit risk research and benchmarks, publishing more than a million credit ratings on debt issued by sovereign, municipal, corporate and financial sector entities. This year, it raised the County’s ratings for certificates of participation, lease revenue refunding bonds, and pension obligation bonds based on S&P’s local general obligation criteria and its view of the County’s improved economy and strong operations through the recession, according to the ratings report.”

The SLO Chamber celebrated the opening of Moylan Terrace with a special ribbon cutting ceremony. The townhome housing project is named for George Moylan of the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo. Moylan Terrace townhomes are a set of 80 “contemporary townhomes” with six different floor plans. The project is in walking distance from bus routes, retail shops, hiking trails, golf courses and more.

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center was recognized by the Hospital Quality Institute earlier this month for its participation in the Partnership for Patients through the California Hospital Engagement Network. Sierra Vista earned recognition in four categories — Fully Engaged Hospital, Improvement Hero, Improvement Champion, and Contributions to HEN. The 3-year project’s goals were to focus on continuous quality improvement, eliminate patient harm and build a safety culture among each of the participating hospitals. Overall, the CalHEN initiative in California positively affected 8,611 lives and resulted in $69.8 million in cost avoidance during the duration of the program, according to the Hospital Quality Institute. Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center’s participation resulted in reducing or avoiding harm to 78 patients at a cost savings of $490,000. Sierra Vista said it would continue to monitor the initiative’s goals.

The City of San Luis Obispo released its “Five Year Fiscal Forecast” with key revenue sources, namely sales tax and transient occupancy tax seeing growth over past years. Jordan Levine, economist and director of economic research for Beacon Economics said, “Over the next five fiscal years we are optimistic about the City’s direction and are predicting continued positive growth. From real estate to local spending, each sector of the local economy is on the right track.”
The City’s 2013-15 financial plan represented the first time in five years that the City Council passed a budget that did not require cuts.