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OCBJ INSIDER

Is Irvine turning into the electric truck capital?

The city already landed RJ Scaringe’s Rivian, which counts close to $6B in funding and major backers including Amazon and Ford.

Last week word came from Lordstown Motors (Nasdaq: RIDE) that it will be opening a service center in Irvine, the first such facility for the company outside its home state of Ohio.

The maker of electric light duty trucks, which went public last month via a reverse merger with a SPAC and counts a market cap of $4.2B, cited the state “aggressively promoting more widespread adoption of electric vehicles,” for its decision to open a hub here.

No reports that’s the company is looking to grab talent from fellow truck maker Rivian, which is in the midst of a huge ramp-up in local staffing, but another EV firm here is crying foul. Karma Automotive filed a lawsuit at the end of October against Lordstown, citing theft of intellectual property, breach of contract and poaching employees.

The suit’s similar in nature to one that Tesla filed against Rivian in July.

Last week’s Insider noted the growing ranks of Peloton enthusiasts among OC’s executive ranks, but not everyone is on the stationary cycling bandwagon.

“I’ve become much more involved in outdoor exercises, daily Crystal Cove beach walks with my family, biking Newport coast, and using my connected fitness rower—the Hydrow,” Byron Roth, CEO of Roth Capital Partners, OC’s largest investment bank, told the Business Journal earlier this month, when asked for his 2020 hobbies.

Roth is also a financial backer in Hydrow, which makes rowing machines that permit a user to view videos of world-famous waters while getting training tips from professional rowers. He invested in Hydrow though a side business, Rx3 Ventures, alongside Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

Byron Roth

The Insider thought that perhaps a change in heart in fitness methods may have occurred last week, when a SPAC that Roth runs announced plans to take Ironton, Ohio’s PureCycle Technologies LLC public via a reverse merger.

Alas, PureCycle is actually a plastic recycling company, and a valuable one. It’s expected to have a market cap in the $1.2 billion range once the transaction with Roth CH Acquisition I Co. is completed. See next week’s print edition of the Business Journal for more.

See page 30 for news on the latest big-dollar sale—$17.7M—on Newport Beach’s exclusive Harbor Island, home to some of OC’s wealthiest business execs.

The latest owners there, whose identities have not been disclosed, could do worse than follow the philanthropic work of their new neighbors, Julia and George Argyros, who last week announced their latest donation to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. The $7.5M gift will further enhance Hoag’s nursing services.

“For many years, I have watched with great admiration as Hoag has used its resources to thoughtfully develop what is without question one of the nation’s finest nursing services,” Julia Argyros said. “Hoag’s nurses are incredibly talented, dedicated and compassionate.”

The couple has given tens of millions of dollars to the hospital over the years.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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