Business

Biz buzz: Air taxi service may come to SLO now that competitor is gone

SATSair, an air carrier on the East Coast, may consider initiating services on the Central Coast, now that a competitor that had looked at launching air service locally has stopped operating.

Point2Point Airways, a North Dakota-based regional air company, had met with at least two business organizations in San Luis Obispo County earlier this spring to discuss initiating a taxi-like aviation service. However, the company suspended all operations this week, citing weak revenues, according to Associated Press reports. The phone numbers listed on the company's Web site have been disconnected.

That opens up the door for SATSair, which has flown in and out of more than 500 airports on the East Coast.

"The Central Coast is a market-rich opportunity, and it is something on our radar as an expansion area," confirmed Phil Quist, vice president of business operations at South Carolina-based SATS-air. "Now that Point2Point is not coming in, we have been receiving calls asking if we are coming. Given the right economic opportunity, we may consider coming sooner than later." SATSair sells flight time both on a pay-as-you-go basis, at $595 per occupied hour, or in blocks of time. A five-hour package could cost a user $2,795, or $559 per hour, while a 50-hour package runs about $22,000, or $440 per hour, Quist said.

An air taxi service is something that appeals to companies such as San Luis Obispo-based Earth Systems Inc., which offers geotechnical engineering services and

environmental assessments through its offices on the West Coast. Earth Systems president Michael Smith heard Point2Point make a presentation in late March to about 60 attendees of a Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa meeting.

"The presentation really sounded like something that might fit our needs," Smith aid. "We have seriously been considering this kind of service because we have offices throughout the state that are not located near a convenient airport."

— Ermina Karim

Businesses learn how to cater to 'foodies'

Nearly 70 local restaurant operators, winery staff members and other tourism-related employees learned how to promote the Central Coast as a culinary destination at The Carlton Hotel on Wednesday.

Brian Baker, vice president of marketing for Kendall-Jackson winery, spoke enthusiastically to the crowd about how tourists are increasingly drawn to "food and wine regions" such as Napa Valley and Santa Barbara.

Experiencing local food and wine is as much a tourist activity as hiking or golfing, he said.

The afternoon event was organized by the county Visitors & Conference Bureau in an effort get tourism industry workers involved in promoting the area as a "foodie" destination. VCB Executive Director Jonni Biaggini said she plans to use some of Baker's advice, which included organizing events such as a restaurant month, where restaurants run specials to encourage people to dine out.

Baker referenced various restaurants that were already "foodie" destinations, including F. McLintocks, Jocko's, Splash Cafe, Big Sky Cafe, Villa Creek and McPhee's Grill.

"They use regional cuisine," he said. "The Central Coast is about 'local seasons with Old World seasonings.' "

Promoting the Central Coast's assets, such as local restaurants, festivals, farmers markets and wineries, are the best ways to grow food-related tourism, said Baker. For more information, visit www.sanluisobispo county.com.

— Dawn Rapp

Loobliner Building's beauty earns award

The historic Loobliner Building in downtown San Luis Obispo won the Mayor's Award in the 17th annual Beautification Awards given by the Downtown Association.

Approximately three dozen businesses — and the city of San Luis Obispo — were recognized for their efforts to improve the aesthetics of downtown in 2006.

The Loobliner Building on Monterey Street is across the alley from the Court Street shopping center. The building needed retrofitting to make it earthquake-safe, but instead Loobliner owners Steven and Rosy Carroll demolished the building and rebuilt it as a new, three-story commercial and office space of 7,100 square feet.

See a complete listing of the award winners at www.sanluisobispo.com.

The award was established to encourage businesses to take pride in their surroundings, according to the association. Nine association members make up the beautification committee.

— Larissa Doust

Paso's Ford Lincoln Mercury reopensPaso Robles Ford Lincoln-Mercury is now open for business at its new location, 2401 Oakwood St. off Highway 46 East. The new facility includes a two-lane "quick lube" service equipped to handle recreational vehicles, a service department and a 4-acre lot of new and used vehicles. The company is offering facility tours. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held today in concert with the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 239-3673 or visit www.paso roblesford.com.— Tonya Strickland

Quiz show will join KCBX radio's lineupKCBX will change its programming lineup beginning Saturday.

The public radio station will add a program called "Wait, Wait … Don't Tell Me," which is a news quiz show from National Public Radio. It will run at 11 a.m., so other regular programs will switch to new times.

The locally produced "Freedom Jazz Dance" will move to noon, and "Minstrel Song Show" will move to 2 p.m. "Thistle and Shamrock" will move to 4 p.m.

"Prairie Home Companion" will move to 5 to 7 p.m., which is when it airs in most parts of the country.

For more information on the changes, call 781-3020.

— Dawn Rapp

Marketing firm moves, adds two employees

Marketing firm 20|20 Creative Group recently added two employees and moved to a new location at 954 Toro St. in San Luis Obispo. The move allows more room for new employees and extended services. The new employees are designer Matt McPherson and marketing assistant Allison Farquhar. McPherson previously worked as an art director at Digital Coast Graphics. Farquhar worked for the marketing department of a local family-operated builder, S&S Homes of the Central Coast. 20|20 has nine employees.

For more information, visit www.2020designgroup.com.

— Tonya Strickland

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