San Diego Business Watch — Business is still business in San Diego

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The kids are back at school and soccer moms have some time to breathe, but business is still business in the San Diego area. From top rankings for one company to the naming of a head figure at SeaWorld, it’s a busy first business week in San Diego.

Top Ranking for

Inc. magazine has ranked NO. 289 and NO. 1 in the Travel Industry, on its 29th annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. Companies such as Microsoft, Zappos, Intuit, GoDaddy, Zipcar, Clif Bar, American Apparel, Oracle, and many other well-known names gained early exposure as members of the Inc. 500.

“Fast growth at any time is a big achievement; fast growth during the past few years is just short of miraculous,” said Inc. Editor Jane Berentson. “The Inc. 500 consists of these just-short-of miraculous companies, the ones that through ingenuity and ambition have increased revenue, hired employees, and grown fast in difficult economic times.”

The 2010 Inc. 500, unveiled in the September issue of Inc. magazine (available on newsstands through November 16 and on, is a group of companies that are smaller but much faster-growing than last year’s crop. Aggregate revenue is $11.3 billion—down from last year’s $18.4 billion—but median three-year growth is 1,231 percent, substantially up from last year’s 880.5 percent. The companies on this year’s list employ more than 45,000 people. Complete results of the Inc. 500, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at was founded in 2004 by Kevin Schneider and Elliot Springer with the idea of creating an online platform by which to provide resort networks across the globe with qualified leads for their timeshare and vacation sales presentations. The popularity of the Do Not Call list (DNC) and a rapid increase in online travel bookings prompted to quickly work toward replacing the call centers historically used by timeshare and vacation club companies to solicit travelers. provides customers with deeply discounted vacation packages, nightly accommodations, and other travel services in exchange for their participation in a brief sales presentation while on vacation. Through the combination of their proprietary online booking technology and a San Diego-based customer service center, they have proven year after year to tens of thousands of families, couples and individuals that there are a variety of affordable domestic and international travel options available.

New Degree Offered

San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education, Inc., a provider of post-secondary education services focused on providing higher access to higher education, recently announced that Ashford University has introduced an Associate of Arts degree in Military Studies. The new degree was designed to meet the educational needs of military and civilian students.

About 18 percent of Ashford’s students are active duty military. For those students, a college education is a key factor for advancement in the military. The AA in Military Studies is for military students who only require an Associate’s Degree for promotion. Due to its strong base in liberal arts, the AA in Military Studies also serves as a springboard to BA programs and further educational opportunities.

“This program builds on the strength of general education to provide an exciting and challenging associate degree that is designed to meet the needs of those serving our country at home and overseas,” said Dr. Curt Lowe, dean of Ashford’s College of Liberal Arts.

For civilian students, the AA in Military Studies can lead to several interesting career opportunities. Many law enforcement and correctional positions require Associate Degrees. Graduates will also be prepared for positions in areas such as veteran affairs, office and administrative support, security, banking, business ownership and civilian military jobs.

“Built on a liberal arts foundation, this interdisciplinary program advances peace maintenance as a core of military theory,” said Mary Alexander, program director for Ashford’s College of Liberal Arts. “Students gain understanding of the history, culture and current world political conditions and how these shape military responses and strategy.”

Ashford University’s Associate of Arts in Military Studies is currently available online only. This degree does not lead to licensure or certification of any kind.

Bridgepoint Education’s postsecondary education services focus on offering Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral programs in such disciplines as business, education, psychology, social sciences and health sciences.  Bridgepoint Education’s regionally accredited academic institutions – Ashford University and University of the Rockies – deliver their programs online as well as at traditional campuses located in Clinton, Iowa, and Colorado Springs, Colo.  For more information about Bridgepoint Education, visit .

New CEO @ SeaWorld

David F. D’Alessandro, former chairman and chief executive of John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., will join SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as the company’s Chairman of the Board.  SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment owns and operates 10 U.S. theme parks, including SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens.

D’Alessandro, 59, retired from Hancock in 2006.  He led the financial services and insurance firm through a period of transformation from private mutual company to major publicly held corporation.  D’Alessandro guided Hancock through a 2005 merger with Manulife Financial that created North America’s second largest insurance conglomerate and the fourth largest in the world.  The company achieved operating earnings growth under D’Alessandro’s leadership that averaged 14 percent per year and average annual sales growth in excess of 15 percent.

D’Alessandro has authored three national best-selling books, including Brand Warfare. He was named Adweek’s Marketer of the Year and Hancock advertising campaigns won numerous awards during his tenure, including a CLIO and the Cannes Film Festival best commercial award.  A former Boston Red Sox partner, he was named to the Sporting News Most Powerful People in Sports list nine consecutive years, acknowledging Hancock’s sponsorships of the Olympic Games, Major League Baseball and The Boston Marathon.

A graduate of Syracuse University, he holds honorary doctorates from three colleges and serves as vice chairman of Boston University.

“We are delighted to have an executive of David’s caliber join SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment,” said Jim Atchison, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “The growth and success achieved by John Hancock under David’s leadership illustrates the remarkable business instinct and spirit of innovation that has marked his career and now will help take our company forward.”

“SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is one of the nation’s great family travel businesses,” D’Alessandro said. “I am honored to be part of this organization and I hope my experience will bring value and help the company provide high quality entertainment experiences to its millions of guests.”

D’Alessandro will serve as a non-executive chairman, providing strategic guidance and counsel via the company’s board.  He will remain in Boston and work several days each month out of SeaWorld’s corporate headquarters in Orlando.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment plays host to 23 million guests each year.  A portfolio company of The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX), the company operates SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, Busch Gardens parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia; Water Country USA in Williamsburg and Adventure Island in Tampa.  SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment employs 20,000 people nationwide.

Big Medical Conference

The Second Annual Medical Device Connectivity Conference & Exhibition, organized by The Center for Business Innovation (TCBI), will be held September 28-29  at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego. This conference and exhibition will feature nationally recognized experts from healthcare provider organizations, academia, manufacturers and elsewhere.  The attendees will include high-level IT, clinical engineering and biomedical engineering executives from hospitals and healthcare systems across the US, as well as representatives from medical device companies, consulting firms, academia, healthcare associations, health plans and government agencies.

“The only conference devoted to the topic of medical device connectivity, the program will offer a unique opportunity to get immersed into every aspect of connectivity, workflow automation and enabling technologies. The keynotes and panel discussions on the first day frame the conference’s focus on connectivity and tackle two of the biggest issues facing health care: industry standards and regulatory issues. Program tracks on the second day provide a survey of connectivity applications, clinical capabilities and outcomes, and explore the gap between regulated vendor-managed systems and the customer-managed and controlled environments in which these systems are used,” says Tim Gee, principal, Medical Connectivity Consulting, the conference chairperson and a keynote speaker.

Continued pressure to improve patient safety and outcomes, and the adoption of EMRs, are the principal drivers for connectivity today. Connectivity became more closely tied to EMR adoption as a requirement of meaningful use. In addition to the general scope of connectivity, this conference zeros in on the point-of-care, whether in the hospital, the patient’s home, or anywhere in between.

Supporting organizations of the conference include: the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE), Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), Healthcare Technology Foundation, International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), RFID in Healthcare Consortium, West Wireless Health Institute and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Full details on the event, including registration, are available at  For additional information, please contact TCBI:  Ph: 310.265.2570  Email:

Photos from Eleven*Nicky and SportsBusiness via Flickr and Zaui via Wikimedia

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