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Beer keeps booming, airport expands and new plans shape up for Balboa Park

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San Diego’s hospitality and retail sectors are gaining their footing in the new economy with a combination of entrepreneurship and revitalization. The first half of 2013 saw the continued emergence of a local brewing industry, big changes at the airport and Balboa Park, a rebranded water park, and renovated shopping centers regionwide. Among the big stories in San Diego’s hospitality and retail sectors so far this year:

Beer boom continues
San Diego’s beer-brewing industry continued to gain recognition as emerging area of job growth and production. The combined specialty foods and microbreweries cluster reportedly includes 1,717 employees with an average wage of $43,500, according to recent San Diego Association of Governments figures.

The brewing industry trade journal West Coaster said there were 71 operational brew houses in San Diego by mid-2013, with an additional 37 planned.

There have been some notable highs and lows in the local beer marketplace so far. Point Loma’s Modern Times Beer became the most funded brewery on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, raising more than $65,000 in a springtime campaign. Downtown El Cajon Brewing Co. closed its doors in April despite an infusion of fanfare and funds from the city of El Cajon’s redevelopment agency.

Airport services expanded
The San Diego Regional Airport Authority has announced expanded air service from the San Diego International Airport this year, including Alaska Airlines’ new nonstop flights to Kauai and Boston, and SeaPort Airlines’ new nonstop service between El Centro and San Diego.

The airport authority is also nearing the completion of its billion-dollar Terminal 2 expansion, which will include new airport security features, 10 new gates, more shopping and dining venues, and a dual-level road to separate arriving and departing passengers.

Balboa Park reimagined
Some loose details about plans for the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial Celebration have begun to emerge.

A press conference held in June by event planners and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner suggested there will be an array of “spectaculars” -- a water and light show over San Diego Bay, a televised concert at the U.S.-Mexico border, park festivals and lectures -- held throughout the year across Balboa Park and greater San Diego to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The cost for the celebration has been roughly estimated at up to $100 million.

Meanwhile, motorists have been adjusting to Filner-implemented traffic management measures at Balboa Park, including the recent removal of parking from Plaza de Panama.

Water park relaunched
Just in time for summer, SeaWorld opened its Aquatica San Diego water park in Chula Vista to the public on June 1.

SeaWorld retooled the water park -- formerly known as Knott’s Soak City -- with new water slides, rides, and animal exhibits.

SeaWorld operates similar water parks in San Antonio and Orlando, Fla.

Restaurants honored
The California Restaurant Association’s San Diego County chapter recently honored the best of the local restaurant industry at its annual Gold Medallion Awards banquet.

Fred Glick of Phil’s BBQ was recognized as the “Restaurateur of the Year,” and Stephane Voitzwinkler of Bertrand at Mister A’s was honored as “Chef of the Year.”

-Compiled by Jennifer McEntee.

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