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Business Spotlight: UCPath Center

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

(Photo Credit: Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce)

Officials from the University of California celebrated the completion of the UCPath Center located in the Meridian Business Park on Friday, January 31 with a ribbon cutting attended by Senator Richard Roth and Assembly Member Jose Medina.

UCPath Center is core part of the University of California’s Working Smarter Initiative to increase administrative and operational effectiveness. Located just a few miles from UC Riverside, the site will house up to 480 employees who will have a role in overseeing operations and staffing the call center that will serve 190,000 employees from UC’s 10 campuses and five medical centers.

An online UCPath Portal will allow faculty and staff to make the majority of their changes to personal, benefit and withholding information themselves. More complicated issues will be handled through an online, highly responsive case management system.

The building is certified gold for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED Gold Certified) by the U.S. Green Building Council. This certification ensures that that the building is designed to reduce consumption of energy and water while being healthier for occupants.

In May 2012, UC Path executive sponsors selected Riverside as the official site for the center based on several factors. Evaluation criteria included the proximity of a strong pool of UC talent to staff the center, local housing and cost of living, the availability and condition of scalable office space, and the support of local leadership.

To learn more about UCPath, click here.

ePlan Review Shows Significant Savings for Business

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The City of Riverside’s electronic plan review system, ePlan Review has recorded significant cost savings for both businesses, residents and the City in the first five months of operation (Aug. 1, 2013 – Dec. 31, 2013).

The City of Riverside launched ePlan Review as part of its Business Ready program, providing a way for businesses and residents to save valuable time and money during the plan check process by limiting the number of trips to City Hall and the amount of paper copies required for standard submittal. The electronic system also enables the City to provide more streamlined routing and expeditious processing of plans.

The savings include both monetary savings as well as environmental reductions in paper consumption and miles traveled. The following is a report of savings as project from the August to December 2013 data:

City of Riverside’s Savings:

Per Plan Review

Annual Savings

Total average hours spent reviewing paper plans

14.00

868

Savings in plan review man hours using ProjectDox

2.80

174

Total average plan review cost to review paper plans

$895

$55,475

Savings in plan review cost using ProjectDox

$179

$11,095

Applicant Savings:

Per Plan Review

Annual Savings

Total Miles Driven

180

11,160

Total Number of Drawing Sheets Saved

900

55,800

Pounds of Paper Saved

120

7,440

Applicant’s savings in total Cost of Paper Saved

$810

$50,220

To learn more about the ePlan Review system, click here.

Aerial Video Captures the Beauty of Downtown Riverside

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Riverside Firefighter Eric Peniata from Fire Station 3 captured a beautiful aerial video of downtown Riverside. The video is an excellent display of downtown’s most cherished landmarks and unique assets.

To see more of Peniata’s work, click here.

Business Spotlight: Riverside Auto Center

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

The Riverside Auto Center is comprised of 13 independent auto dealerships and has been an important part of the local Riverside business community for almost 50 years. The Auto Center is also a significant employer in the City with a combined workforce of over 1,500 employees and the dealers are a major contributor to the City’s local tax base as vehicle sales are one of the City’s largest sources of sales tax generation.

The Riverside Auto Center was one of the earliest auto centers constructed in the United States and originated in a discussion among five dealers.  It was opened in February, 1965 on a 55 acre site with seven dealers at a cost of 8 million dollars, was totally financed by the dealers with no public subsidy. Dick Clark was part of the dedication ceremonies for the center, and you could buy a new Mercury for $2,150 with a 4.5% interest loan. Total sales tax collected the first year of operation was $1.1 million.

The Auto Center recently installed a new state-of-the-art, LED sign to replace the previous obsolete and inefficient incandescent State Route 91 sign. The new sign, located adjacent to the freeway, is a substantial improvement to the Riverside Auto Center’s advertising capabilities.

The major dealers in the Auto Center include: Acura of Riverside, BMW Riverside, Carmax, Dodge Moss Motors, Dutton Motors, Fritts Ford, Lexus of Riverside, Riverside Chevrolet, Riverside Honda, Riverside Mazda, Riverside Nissan, Toyota of Riverside and Walters Auto Sales. Many of these dealers were listed as Top 25 Producers in the third quarter 2013 Sales Tax Update, further proving the significant impact the dealers have on Riverside sales tax revenues. 

Third Quarter 2013 Shows Significant Retail Sales Gains

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

The City of Riverside third quarter 2013 sales tax update shows gross receipts for July through September sales were 7.9% higher than the same quarter one year ago. Actual sales rose 9.8% net of accounting anomalies. Robust sales and leasing activity from both new and used car dealers lifted automotive group returns. The top 5 sales producing business types were: Auto Lease, Electronics/Appliance Stores, Light Industrial/Printers, Used Automotive Dealers and New Automotive Dealers. Auto and Transportation sales tax shows steady growth from the same quarter a year ago as well.

Adjusted for one time reporting events, sales and use tax receipts for all of Riverside County increased 5.9% over the same period just above Southern California regional totals which were up 5.3%. 

To read the full Q3’2013 Sales Tax Update prepared by HdL Companies, click here. 

Downtown Riverside Continues to Thrive in 2014

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

(Photo Credit: Press Enterprise, Stan Lim/Staff Photographer)

Downtown Riverside has seen continued investment over the past several years and new interest in dining and entertainment continues to grow. Within the last year alone, downtown has seen several new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops open their doors bringing in new customers to experience the vibrant atmosphere in the historic core.

One of the new restaurants to open in 2013 is Heroes Restaurant & Brewery (3397 Mission Inn Ave.) whose owner, Nick Montano chose to open his restaurant in Riverside after experiencing the growing energy in downtown. Montano is fully committed to making Heroes a place for all Riversiders to enjoy, saying “Every community we go into we dive head first.” He has made this clear having already established a partnership with UCR Athletics to host the live broadcast of the Coach’s show every Tuesday with future collaborations in the works. Heroes also held a fundraiser for Toys for Tots at the restaurant in December and plan to build even more relationships with the community.  

The restaurant opened in October 2013 and experienced their first ever Festival of Lights which took them by surprise, “Festival of Lights was crazy but we have come back to reality now” Montano remarked. Heroes is a restaurant for all to enjoy including families, sports fans, college students and craft beer aficionados. The Brewery piece of the restaurant came to life in December when they launched the first three of their craft brews. Nick said, “We’re at the tip of the iceberg with what we plan to offer to the community.” Now a total of five beers brewed on site are available and the they plan to host beer festivals, beer of the month and special release beer tasting nights in the near future. 

Investment in downtown is continuing into 2014 with Mezcal Cantina y Cocina, a new restaurant opening at the corner of Main St. and University Ave. and a craft cocktail bar, W. Wolfskill from the owners of The Salted Pig opening at 4281 Main St. The entertainment options will continue to grow with the Fox Performing Arts Center and Municipal Auditorium under the management of Live Nation. These world-class entertainment venues will host many high profile performers this year including Bill Engvall, Willie Nelson, Wayne Brady and more to be announced. 

Downtown Riverside continues to be a destination with so many dining, entertainment and nightlife options to choose from and more to come throughout 2014.

The Press Enterprise published an excellent article about the growth of downtown on January 16, click here to read the full article.

RPU Recognized as Finalist in NAIOP-IE REXIE Awards Public Partner of the Year

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

NAIOP Inland Empire Chapter hosted the annual Real Estate Excellence Inland Empire Awards (REXIE) to honor the best of the best in commercial real estate for 2013. Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) was named a finalist for Public Partner of the Year for the Utilities’ Temporary Economic Development Rate which has successfully helped to create or retain over 2,500 jobs within RPU’s service territory since 2010.

RPU offers its Economic Development (ED), Business Retention (BR) and Temporary Economic Development (TED) rates to attract and retain large, expanded electric load and new commercial customers. Building on the success of the existing ED and BR rates, RPU recognized a need for a new rate tool that would target at medium sized commercial electric customers. The TED rate was launched in 2013 to stimulate the slowly recovering local economy through business expansion and relocation. This rate, which is available through 2015, offers qualifying RPU electric customers a 30 (through 2013), 20 (through 2014), and 10 (through 2015) percent discount (up to 60% in energy cost savings over the first three years of operation). End users such as restaurants and distribution centers have been able to take advantage of this new rate. Not only has the TED rate program helped reduce commercial property vacancies, the program has also helped these businesses save nearly half a million dollars in energy costs, thereby reducing their operating costs during the first three years of operation.

Specifically, RPU’s new TED rate has resulted in the following successes:

  • New Jobs 436
  • Real Estate 1,000,000 square feet occupied
  • New Private Investment $5.8 million
  • Estimated Annual Electricity Revenue Pre‐Discount $714,715
To learn more about the RPU Economic Development Rate and Temporary Economic Development Rate, click here.

CIO Lea Deesing Details How Tech Aids Economic Development

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

(Photo Credit: GovTech Magazine)

Riverside Chief Innovation Officer Lea Deesing was featured in StateTech Magazine for her work leading the City’s Information and Technology to foster economic development in the community.

When asked how the City is using IT to spur economic development, Deesing said:

“I report directly to the economic development branch of the city, and IT is treated as a core operational asset toward economic and job growth. Being the “City of Arts and Innovation” is not just a title — we actively seek ways in which we can innovate to compete for economic growth to attract new businesses with high-paying jobs, bring homebuyers to the area, retain college graduates and more.

Jim Clifton’s book, The Coming Jobs War, says it all — we need local tribal leaders to come together to find ways to create jobs. Technologists are no exception. We must all collaborate and contribute to propel our organizations into prosperity. We’re all critical to economic development, revenue generation and the future.”

An example of these efforts is shown through the SmartRiverside High Technology Tenant Improvement Program. Under this program grants may be awarded to small technology companies with sales of less than $20 Million per year in an effort to help offset tenant improvement costs for small technology companies, allowing them to redirect capital. Learn more about the Tenant Improvement Program, here.

When asked what her vision is for Riverside as a smart city Deesing emphasized the importance of partnerships:

“We must focus on narrowing the digital, economic and opportunity divide within our region. One key element in realizing economic prosperity is to give our residents and businesses opportunities that come with high-speed Internet access.

With continued focus on economic development, collaboration, innovation and leadership, Riverside is well positioned to continue its journey toward economic growth and prosperity in our region. We have all of the necessary ingredients in place to get there.”

To read the full article from State Tech Magazine published January 23, 2014, click here.

Business Spotlight: Olfactor Laboratories Inc.

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Mayor Bailey tours OLI's Insectary

Olfactor Laboratories Inc. (OLI), located at 1140 Citrus Street, is developing the world’s first products based on ieCrowd’s patent-pending technologies capable of blocking mosquitoes’ (and other blood-seeking insects’) ability to detect carbon dioxide. ieCrowd’s technology has been supported by federal agencies, large foundations, non-profits, and experts from around the world and has been considered one of the “biggest breakthroughs” against mosquito-borne diseases.   

At its inception, OLI acquired the exclusive, worldwide license rights to a compound set from the laboratory of Dr. Anandasankar Ray at the University of California, Riverside. The work at the UCR campus was focused on identifying compounds capable of manipulating CO2 receptors and was featured in the world-renowned scientific journal Nature (2011).

Today, based on an OLI developed patent-pending list of compounds that can disrupt a mosquito’s host-seeking behavior, OLI’s products can effectively prevent mosquitos and other vector insects from finding blood-meal hosts – and therefore have the potential of dramatically altering the transmission rates of deadly, insect carried diseases among human and other animal populations.

OLI  has developed a small, square patch called the Kite Patch that emits chemical compound essentially makes the wearer invisible to mosquito by blocking a mosquito’s ability to sense a human. In a recent crowd-funding campaign, OLI raised over $550,000 from 11,254 supporters, surpassing their goal of $75,000.   In addition to its crowd-sourced capital, Kite received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other investors. Learn more about Kite Patch, here.

OLI is one of several companies developed through the Innovation Economy Initiative (IE Initiative), a business acceleration program designed to assist in the commercialization of emerging technology companies by providing in-depth business guidance, entrepreneurial education and access to capital and service providers. In 2010, the City partnered in launching the IE Initiative by providing a $390,000 grant from redevelopment funds. Since that time, IE Initiative founder Amro Albanna established ieCrowd and has branded his location as the Innovation Center. ieCrowd’s mission is to “find the world’s biggest innovative breakthroughs and transform them in to real innovative solutions that can impact the lives of people around the world”.

Learn more about OLI on their website, here.

Business Spotlight: OctoClean

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

OctoClean is a family-owned, family-run business with a goal of redefining the janitorial industry. Chuck and Yvonne Stowe began a janitorial company called Service Pros in 1991, which proved successful and led the Stowes to decide to expand their business into a larger-scale franchising model. In November 2000, OctoClean was established with 12 existing franchises. Today, OctoClean has expanded to more than 50 franchises in Southern California and continues to grow.

Having doubled its gross sales between 2003 and 2008, OctoClean has positioned itself as an emerging leader in the janitorial services industry. OctoClean’s business plan calls for continued aggressive growth in both the number of active Franchise Owners and the markets in which OctoClean’s services are offered. OctoClean provides services to medical campuses, educational campuses, office buildings, and construction sites. They also provide general janitorial services including carpet care, window washing and floor care.

OctoClean’s Chief Operating Officer Matt Stowe is a member of the Seizing Our Destiny Champions Council and has embraced the vision of Seizing Our Destiny by creating a new partnership between OctoClean and Path of Life Ministries to provide employment readiness training for those in the transitional housing program, fulfilling a key component of the company’s mission to empower and enable people to be successful business owners. 

To learn more about OctoClean, click here.

This article contains content directly from the OctoClean website.