Biz Buzz: Columbia ends SLO team sponsorship

Sporting goods manufacturer Columbia has ended its sponsorship of the High Road professional cycling team based in San Luis Obispo.

Ellen Cohune, a spokeswoman for High Road, said Columbia signed on during the 2008 Tour de France and committed to staying on as a lead sponsor through the 2010 racing season. Competition has ended for the year, so Columbia has fulfilled its contract, she explained.

Through the last few years, the squad was called Team HTC-Columbia. HTC manufactures mobile communications devices and is headquartered in Taiwan.

The squad is being called HTC-High Road for the time being. Team founder Bob Stapleton said in a news release that a search is on for a new co-sponsor.

High Road has also reached a deal with Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill to provide the team with its bike frames, forks and helmets. High Road officials would not disclose the dollar value of the deal.

Specialized will supply the men’s and women’s teams starting in January. The men will compete on the S-Works Tarmac for road racing, the S-Works Roubaix for cobblestone classics and the Shiv TT for time trials. The women will ride on Amira model bikes for the road and the Shiv TT in time trials. All the frames are built out of carbon, which is lighter and stronger than metal.

Scott, a Swiss firm, has been the bike manufacturer used by High Road for the last several years. Its contract came up for renewal, and the team decided to make a change.

— Tad Weber

Mention of SLO in book boosts sales

Sales were brisk at San Luis Obispo’s two biggest bookstores for a new release that came out on Tuesday.

That’s because a chapter in the book is devoted to San Luis Obispo and why it is “the real American dream.”

“Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,” by Dan Buettner, hit bookstores nationwide. A clerk at Borders near Madonna Road said people were coming in all day to purchase a copy. While he could not give a sales total, the clerk said the initial order was almost cleaned out.

Lindsey Miller, marketing director for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, bought her copy at Barnes and Noble downtown. She had more than a reader’s interest: Miller helped Buettner and researcher/co-writer Steve Marsh learn about San Luis Obispo during their 18 months of research.

That involved showing them the town, introducing them to certain local residents, such as Ken Schwartz and Pierre Rademaker, and answering lots of e-mail queries.

“Sometimes Steve would e-mail me a huge list of questions that would take days to answer,” recalled Miller.

The result? San Luis Obispo is the only American city included in the book. Buettner cites the city’s no-smoking stance, promotion of bicycling for transportation, regulations that restrict urban ills such as signs and drive-throughs, and support for the arts and open space.

“Thrive” takes a global look at cities and countries where residents are happy, and Buettner offers reasons for why that is the case.

— Tad Weber