Bishop Ranch bounces back from recession, U.S to follow, CEO says

Sunset Development head predicts turnaround but says it will take time

If Bishop Ranch is an economic indicator, the U.S. economy is on the rebound.

Sunset Development Co. -- which owns Bishop Ranch -- saw 16 companies go bankrupt in the business park and a number of others delinquent in their rent. Now, there are no delinquencies and no bankrupt businesses, according to Alex Mehran, Sunset Development president and CEO.

"The great recession that began in the fall of 2008 is over," Mehran said Thursday, speaking to the Kiwanis Club of the San Ramon Valley at Round Hill Country Club in Alamo. But, he said, the country has lost 8 million jobs, and "We're not gaining them back at any kind of pace."

Mehran said the country is engaged in a national debate over how to solve the problem. Some think what he called "stimulators," like President Obama's job creation bill, are the way to go, and others support "inflators," basically printing more money and letting the Federal Reserve loosen credit to banks to free up money.

Those on the opposite side of the fence, Mehran said, think the problem can be solved by cutting taxes and government spending.

"My guess is we're going to have a little bit of inflation," he told the group. "I think we'll see another stimulus before this is over and I think we'll have some cutting of entitlement programs as well."

California has been hit with two problems at once, he said, explaining that companies have been moving out of the state and pointing to some 500,000 aerospace jobs that have been relocated to places like Texas and Florida.

At the same time, job losses have cut real estate demand, leading to construction job losses, and what Mehran called "a death spiral."

He thinks Governor-elect Jerry Brown can help solve the problem, although Mehran didn't elaborate.

Meanwhile, Sunset Development's new project, San Ramon City Center, is on hold, waiting for the economy to bounce back.

"I suspect we'll start seeing the tea leaves a little better in 2011, 2012," Mehran said. "I think it's desperately needed."

That project would include a new San Ramon City Hall and library, office and retail space and condo units within walking distance of each other.

"We want to create an atmosphere of community," Mehran said.

At Bishop Ranch, Mehran is doing what he can to help boost the economy, with programs for small businesses and a business-to-business program.

"We literally take them by the hand and introduce them to each other," he said.

Bishop Ranch is also pursuing sustainability projects like L.E.E.D. (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), which is being handled by Merhan's son, Alexander, who explained that ratings run from silver to platinum.

"We're shooting for silver (or) gold ratings for all our buildings," the younger Mehran told the crowd.


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Posted by Harald A. Bailey
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Dear Dolores,

You have now opened the subject of economic development and job creations in our corridor with this feature. One person's opinions are a great start, but our corridor has exceptional resources among corporations, institutions and universities to illustrate the complete story.

Strangulation of government by cost-cutting measures will only insure another recessionary dip and job losses. Stimulus transfer payments that do not equal real growth in profit-making GDP growth will also be recessionary and create job losses.

Let's invite the exceptional professionals of our corridor to explain economic advancement, commercialization and job growth as a balanced cost-control/investment program. Let's have the global corporations and institutions in our corridor characterize our profitability as a global producer.

You're brilliant, you have started such dialog!

Thank you,

Harald A. Bailey

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Posted by CW
a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Who is this man think he's fooling? The economy isn't better or even getting's getting WORSE! We have our illustrious president and congress to thank for that! Why should we be surprised? They are all professional politicians who never ran their own businesses but think they are smart enough to run our lives.

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Posted by Harald A. Bailey
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

Dear Dolores,

Reality for California, as reported in WSJ, Reuters and other business journals, our economy is truly improving by warranting >50% of new investment capital in new USAmerican industries and technologies. We are retaining and growing our technology companies. We are maintaining taxation near the national average. We are growing jobs and salaries via our technical expertise that support a higher standard of living and offset of tax impact.

We are likely leading a reluctant USAmerica into the value of a global economy by being a Pacific Rim economy as a leading contribution to USAmerican GDP. As a global economy, California has the most immediate ability for growth through service to world markets.

Certainly, as Californians, we can see that which is obsolete in our economy as expendable industries. Traditional automobiles, home building, and more are end-of-life and new technologies and advancements in agriculture, healthcare, energy, communications and transportation are rapidly commercializing in California.

In our corridor we have the leaders of such advancements as residents. Let's invite their viewpoints and perspectives.

Joyous wishes at Thanksgiving,

Harald A. Bailey
Member, CDSI Research Fellowship

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Danville
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:57 am

I don't know about Mr. Mehran's enthusiastic economic observances -- it's certainly not unilateral. It seems he is making his case from a VERY narrow point of view -- bankruptcies in his buildings? I know of two local sets of dear friends, one in real estate, that had to pack up their lives and move out of state in order to try and make a go of it. Lots of my clients may be starting to make a few more dollars, but they are afraid to spend it, afraid we could slip back again as an economy, so they're not spending and putting the money through the system -- they are cutting back orders, stringing out payments, delaying purchases, etc. So, I don't share his unbridled enthusiasm. I see a "mild up-tick" at best right now, hoping it gets better in 2011.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Nov 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

Economic cycles are an inherent part of capitalism. This down cycle is so much deeper and longer lasting because the up cycle was built on massive leverage that had to collapse of its own weight. Economic conditions are improving, but conditions have a long way to go because the economy went to the edge of collapse.

One example of the upturn: check out the parking lot at Target any day of the week now. It is packed. Another example: check out the profit reports from Tiffany, Coach, Nordstroms and other high end retailers. They are outstanding.

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