From Gritty to Groovy

Planners and developers plow ahead on K street

City planners and private developers in Sacramento envision a downtown shopping and entertainment hub pulsing with revenue and pedestrians. The mind’s eye replaces vagrants with decorative park benches and rundown storefronts with shiny new facades. And rather than dispersing at sundown, restaurant patrons and theatergoers would linger into the wee hours.

Nov 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Alfalfa fields near the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Steamboat Slough.

Spending Water Like Money

When conservation alone can't solve the state's water problems

For many environmentalists and residents of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the solution to California’s water supply sounds brilliant in its simplicity: Use less than we do now, particularly in areas of the state that have precious little of their own to begin with, thereby eliminating the need for spending billions of dollars on new water storage. But don’t try selling that idea to the bulk of California’s most powerful water stakeholders, many of whom contend that all the low-flow toilets and drip irrigation systems in the world won’t mean much without more dams and reservoirs to capture water during wet years and reap the benefits in dry times.

Oct 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Cache Creek Casino Resort began as a bingo hall but has slowly added amenities, such as this year-old 18-hole championship golf course, in its push to become a destination resort.

Full House

Have casinos reached market saturation in the Capital Region?

Red Hawk Casino opened in December, just weeks after economic woes sent the stock market plunging. The launch of the new venue just off Highway 50 coincided with a sharp drop in gross gaming revenue at Nevada’s Lake Tahoe casinos, and California casinos also felt the sting as gamblers gave Red Hawk a try.

Oct 1, 2009 Adam Weintraub
Newton Wallace purchased Winters Express in 1947 and has since handed the reigns to his son, Charles.

Wintry News

A community newspaper stays afloat in Winters

Newspapers across the nation have been in a painful freefall for the past couple of years, cutting budgets, pages and staff nearly as quickly as they can relay information. The culprit, of course, is a lackluster economy that has severely hindered advertising revenue piggybacked on a readership that’s demanding free content in new mediums. So it comes with a few raised eyebrows to find Winters Express, a small weekly, still plodding along.

Oct 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Manufacturer Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. recently completed a major expansion in an enterprise zone and added jobs.

Baiting Clean Tech

How local economic developers are getting creative

On paper it looks like the Capital Region has the makings of a world-class clean-tech hub: access to policy makers at the Capitol, access to innovative research churning out of UC Davis, and housing that’s affordable for green-collar workers. What this equation doesn’t account for, however, is how fast California is losing its competitive edge to other states and the global economy.

Oct 1, 2009 Ken James

Litigation Litany

When employers and workers can't get along in today's economy

Even in the best economy, employers fight a financial tug of war with the people who work for them. One side wants more pay and benefits while the other side wants to trim costs. When the economy takes a nose dive, though, the tug of war can get a lot rougher. State and local government jobs are getting much of the attention in Sacramento this year as furloughs and layoffs have increased tension with workers. But Sacramento’s private sector has seen temperatures rise, too.

Oct 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi
The Jelly Belly Candy Co. opened a manufacturing plant in fairfield in 1986; as of December, it employed 480 workers.

(Photo courtesy of the City of Fairfield)

Assembly Line

Can the state increase regulation and create manufacturing jobs

This summer, the Milken Institute released its second report on manufacturing in California. Seven years the institute sounded the alarm that California was losing its manufacturing edge, the driving force for postwar prosperity from the aerospace industry through high technology. The institute said policy makers should pay attention to the state’s manufacturing decline.

Sep 1, 2009 Tony Quinn
The Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct (shown here near Westley in Stanislaus County) stretches about 400 miles, carrying water from Northern California to users in the south.

Hydrating the System

The state's water woes and its faltering economy

Most recognized California as “the Golden State” long before lawmakers adopted the official nickname in 1968. But while California’s standing as the land of big ideas and golden opportunities is well-earned, so too is its recent reputation as a state in perpetual crisis. In few places is this more evident than the state’s ongoing debate over its aging and unsustainable water management system.

Sep 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Steve Currall, incoming dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis

Passing the Buck

Are MBA programs a beneficiary of a falling economy?

Many things can claim victim status in the wake of the current economy, but local MBA programs aren’t one of them.

Despite significant tuition costs, ranging from $12,000 to $40,000, MBA programs are at worst holding steady in enrollments, and many are actually enjoying surges — not just in applications but in qualified applications.

Aug 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli
Christi Black, managing director, Ogilvy Public Relations found new digs at 1414 K St.

The Tenets of Leasing

The pros and cons of relocating in today's market

The smart landlords are doing whatever it takes to keep old tenants and lure new ones. That includes free rent, bigger allowances for tenant improvements, free signs and plain old cash. “If there is less than two years remaining on the lease, a savvy landlord really should be talking to them about extending,” Frisch says. “Oftentimes landlords and property managers don’t start that conversation until it is much later in the lease term.” But if a tenant is in good enough financial shape to keep paying the rent, very few landlords will renegotiate a deal with more than two years left, Frisch says.

Aug 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi
(Photo illustration: C.J. Burton)

Organizational Misbehavior

Are you grooming or stifling tomorrow's leaders?

With the national economy stumbling along like a wounded animal, the only steady growth these days is in the number of workers being shown the door. But while layoffs can be demoralizing, those workers who remain on the job may find “the Great Recession” to be a huge career booster.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen