Pacific Coast Business Times

From billboards to board bags: Rareform recycles signs into surf gear

A Ventura County startup is turning old billboards that would otherwise be headed to landfills into snazzy surfboard bags. Rareform launched its products a few weeks ago, but the idea has been brewing for much longer. After Alec Avedissian graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, he traveled to El Salvador. While there, he noticed people along the coast putting the vinyl from discarded billboards to a creative new use: roofing material. more

Gates: ‘Compromise has become a dirty word’

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a ringing endorsement to California’s citizen-led redistricting effort, saying in a March 2 speech in Santa Barbara that extreme forces on the political left and right must learn to compromise if America is going to get its fiscal house in order. “We have the power and the means to overcome” the economic and security challenges of the 21st century, Gates told about 700 business and community leaders at the annual Westmont College President’s Breakfast. more

A peek into the future: Super-smart devices that blend into your life seamlessly

Cyber-technologists have long anticipated an era when individuals manage every aspect of their information through userfriendly, interactive “lifestyle” devices that merge seamlessly into our everyday lives. The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show made a strong case that such an era is upon us, if not already in place. … David Newton is a professor of business and entrepreneurship at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. more

There’s Meritt in his work: Serial entrepreneur takes students under his wing

Over the past decade, he’s perfected what he calls the Meritt Model, his method of selecting ideas with a broad market appeal and then using contract manufacturing to move hundreds of thousands of units — all with minimal capital upfront. more

Affinity downsizes, puts HQ up for sale

Affinity Group, once a major employer in Ventura, has made layoffs and restructured, putting its massive ocean-view headquarters campus up for sale for $9.7 million. more

Jordano joins Hall of Fame

Peter Jordano, president of Jordano’s, one of the region’s oldest family-owned companies, will become the sixth member of the Pacific Coast Business Times’ Business Hall of Fame. more

At Westmont breakfast, Rice defends Afghan war, warns of strife in Mexico

Be patient. Stay focused. Don’t underestimate the power of freedom and of immigrants. more

Editorial: U.S. News knows our colleges are tops

Our region’s four-year colleges and universities fared well in the latest rankings from U.S. News &  World Report — yet another indication that over the long haul, the tri-county region’s economy is likely to be stable and that our tradition of successful entrepreneurship remains intact. … The region is also home to two of U.S. News’ top 100 national liberal arts colleges: Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula was No. 71, and Westmont College was No. 99. more

Region’s colleges rank high on U.S. News lists

All five of the four-year universities in the Tri-Counties are among the top 100 colleges in the nation in their respective categories, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News ranks schools separately according to whether they’re considered research universities or liberal arts colleges and whether they’re national or regional in scope. more

Affinity refinances $144M in debt

Ventura-based Affinity Group, which faces nearly $700 million in debt payments in coming years, closed a deal for a new $144 million loan on March 3 to refinance debt due at the end of this month…Affinity Group is part of the business empire built by Montecito resident Stephen Adams…Adams is believed to be the anonymous donor who defaulted last year on a $75 million gift he made to Westmont College in 2006 more

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