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.