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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


October 2013

October 31, 2013

NACIC 2013 panel image

Earlier this week the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and The Mexico Business Center hosted the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC). The conference focused on cross border trade and business opportunities between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 
 
One of the most popular panels focused on developing workforce talent and was moderated by EDC’s CEO Mark Cafferty. The panelists were Bill Bold, sr. vice president of QUALCOMM, Lauren Friese, CEO and founder of TalentEgg from Ontario, Canada and Rafael Sostmann, professor of practice for education innovation and special advisor to the president of Arizona State University.
 
Mark opened the session by explaining that San Diego Regional EDC’s attraction efforts focus on corporate executives and talent, specifically young people just graduating from universities. He said competitiveness for North America is about talent and asked the panel: “How we develop the workforce of the future?”
 
Rafael, an engineer by training, is also the former president of Mexico’s largest private, nonprofit educational system, Tecnológico de Monterrey. He suggested that industry linkages with universities are critical. At ASU, student startups are supported through on campus incubators and on campus industrial parks leased to businesses.
 
Lauren explained that she started her company, an online tool that connects young talent with job opportunities, after she finished graduate school in London. She discovered that linkages between students and industries were much stronger in the United Kingdom than in Canada. Inspired by the tools she saw working in the UK, she replicated the networking platform through TalentEgg. She suggested that too often employers only want to hire young people with “the right” degree, when there are plenty of people who can be trained for just about any career. 
 
Bill spoke about the investments and partnerships QUALCOMM has with students and universities to grow its future workforce. As a world leader in mobile communications and computing technologies, QUALCOMM licenses its innovations to smart phone manufacturers. QUALCOMM is also the world’s largest producer or semiconductors. Of its 31,000 employees worldwide, 81 percent have a degree in a STEM field. The mobile giant is dependent on international markets; While 92 percent of the company's revenues are earned outside the U.S 67 percent of its workforce is in San Diego because they care about hiring locally. Bill said Qualcomm is intense about recruiting – pursuing only the top one percent of graduates from the top five percent of universities – likening it to college football recruiting. Last year Qualcomm had 1,100 paid interns, of whom 300 got offered full time jobs, and 250 accepted. The company recently invested $20 million in a new engineering center at Berkeley to build a cutting-edge program blending art, architecture and engineering. 
 
Responding to a question from the audience about the best ways to prepare young people for careers, the panel pointed to the German apprentice-style model. Germany’s vocational education system pairs classroom studies with on-the-job learning. Students apply for a specific apprenticeship at a company. For two to three years they spend a few days a week at a work site, getting paid a stipend from their employer, and one to two days a week in a classroom learning theory. They graduate with a certificate that signifies they know all the basics to begin working professionally in their fields. Not only are the certificates standardized throughout Germany,  but they are also well-respected and often a necessary requirement for jobs. Companies like Siemens have brought the work experience aspects of the program to the U.S. offering students here similar opportunities. 
 
If San Diego wants to maintain its share of talent, it would be in our best interest to explore similar programs. 
 
October 28, 2013
On the heels of the government shutdown, Congress’ perceived inability to work together and collaborate has become a serious issue. But if we look more closely at the San Diego’s delegation’s recent activities, we might have a different story to tell.
 
This past week, San Diego’s congressional delegation unanimously backed efforts to secure an unmanned systems test site in Southern California. Citing the region’s diverse terrain and existing aerospace stronghold, Reps. Susan A. Davis (D ), Duncan Hunter (R), Darrell Issa (R) , Scott Peters (D), and Juan Vargas (D) signed on to a support letter with the understanding that the site will help create jobs and further drive the Golden State’s economy. 
 
"Our entire delegation came together to support our defense and aerospace industries because they provide good jobs to thousands of San Diegans and groundbreaking technologies," Rep. Peters said. "This is how it's supposed to work: the private and public sectors, and leaders from both political parties coming together to support our economy and our national security." 
 
A recent study by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International found that California was poised to gain 18,161 jobs from unmanned systems - more than any other U.S. state. The industry would pump approximately $90 billion into the economy in the next decade, generating an estimated $70 million in tax revenue. 
 
“There’s no region more suitable than Southern California to be used as a UAS/UAV test site. In particular, San Diego, with its strong ties to the defense and aerospace community, is a premier location with its diverse training areas and support infrastructure already in place,” said Rep. Hunter. 
 
In the letter of support the delegation notes that San Diego already has an edge on the industry, with two of the nation’s leading UAS manufacturers based here. The region’s six universities are already taking steps to guarantee that the workforce is prepared with the technical skills to help the industry thrive. 
 
The FAA modernization and reform act of 2012 mandated the FAA to create six test sites across the country with a goal of working to integrate this technology safely into our airspace. The proposed testing site would start at the U.S./Mexico border and run to Bridgeport in Mono County to the North and to the Arizona/Nevada border to the East. As regulations do not allow testing within a 30-mile radius of installations including Lindbergh Field and McClellan-Palomar Airport, San Diego’s most densely populated areas would be excluded from the testing range. 
 
“As San Diegans, we are fortunate to have leadership that’s willing to reach across the aisle for the good of the economy and the people,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. “Our delegation recognizes that this is about more than just defense. With uses including wildfire fighting, food production and disaster surveying, unmanned systems is on course to have a strong impact on our region’s ability to be a global innovation hub.”
 
Although there are many things we may never agree on, it’s nice to know that San Diego’s congressional delegation are united when it comes to the importance of job creation in our region.
 
 
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October 21, 2013

Illustrating some of the dynamic uses for unmanned system.

Illustrating some of the dynamic uses for unmanned system. Clockwise from top left: Drone used for newspaper delivery (The Atlantic), prepping a wildfire- fighting drone for launch (The New York Times), simulation of a lifeguard/lifesaving drone (AUVSI), agricultural drone used for weed control (3dRobotics/ Diydrones.com) 

If you stopped 100 people on the street and asked them to name a technology in the past 20 years that has changed the world, it’s safe to assume that the internet would be a top choice. Yet if you ask people about the origins of the internet, many would have to pause for a second to think. In the 1950s, the internet was developed as a tool for military communication. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the internet was adopted and commercialized for broader use. 
 
San Diego is used to seeing military innovations adopted for commercial use. In fact, many of the region’s largest and most well-known companies – including Qualcomm – were born out of military innovation. 
 
Now, a new technology is being developed for commercial use and San Diego, with its strong military history, trained talent, and diverse terrain, has a decent chance of playing a big role in something that has already began to revolutionize the world. 
 
Unmanned Systems – or drones as they’re often called – have uses ranging from agricultural production to disaster monitoring and wildfire fighting.  
 
A jobs generator 
 
Recognizing the importance of unmanned systems, the FAA has issued a call to establish six test sites across the country, with a goal of working to integrate this technology safely into our airspace.  A recent study from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International found that California was poised to gain 18,161 jobs if they created a test site- more than any other U.S. state. This does not even take into account the impact of non-aerial unmanned systems for marine and farming use, which will help create even more jobs. The industry would pump approximately $90 billion into the economy in the next decade, generating an estimated $70 million in tax revenue. 
 
In partnership with San Diego Military Advisory Council, EDC and other San Diego partners joined the CAL UAS portal. The proposed testing site would start at the U.S./Mexico border and run from Bridgeport to the North and to the Arizona/Nevada border to the East. The regulations do not allow testing within a 30-mile radius of installations including Lindbergh Field and McClellan-Palomar Airport, meaning most of San Diego’s metro airspace will not be included in testing ranges.
 
San Diego is at a significant advantage. Not only do we have one of the most diverse testing sites in the U.S., but we also have a strong private sector that would help support a testing site. Companies such as 3Drobotics, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and 5d robotics provide a well-qualified talent pool to help the sector thrive. 
 
Maybe 10 years from now, if we ask people about a technology that has profoundly impacted society, unmanned systems will float to the top of the list. Our hope is that when it does, San Diego is thought of as a leader in this field.
 

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October 15, 2013

Economic snapshot graph

EDC’s economic snapshot shows that San Diego’s economy is gaining steam. From April 2013 to July 2013, the San Diego region added 13,000 private sector jobs. Although the metro’s unemployment rate still stands slightly above the national average, San Diego experienced one of the largest year-over-year declines in the U.S. from July 2012 to July 2013. Only four major U.S. metros – Seattle, Tampa, Detroit and Riverside - experienced a greater decline over that period.

Here’s how the numbers in the snapshot broke down:

  •  Private businesses added approximately 13,000 jobs in the quarter. Hospitality and tourism added the highest number of jobs this quarter, with 7,600. Construction industry added 4,100 jobs in the quarter, which is likely due to many major construction projects ramping up in the summer season. With the recently-approved expansion of the San Diego Convention Center (not included in these numbers), the region will add nearly 7,000 hospitality and tourism jobs and 3,000 construction jobs in a future quarter.
  •  This quarter, the snapshot took a closer look at the Sports and Active Lifestyle industry, based on a report that was recently released. With companies including Taylormade, Sector 9 and other well-known products, San Diego is a designated leader in this important sector. The report found that the industry’s economic impact is equivalent to hosting four Super Bowls annually.
  • San Diego’s foreclosure rate remained lower than the U.S. average in July2013, with only 2.31 out of every 10,000 homes foreclosed during that month
  • All major metros nationwide experienced positive growth in home prices over the quarter and the year, a symptom of the resurging US real estate market. From Q1 2013 to Q22013, home prices grew about 13.7 percent  in the San Diego region.

The quarterly snapshot reports on key economic metrics that are important to understanding the regional economy and San Diego's standing relative to other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. The snapshot only reported on data through Q2 2013. Amidst the current government shutdown, we can only hope that there’s data next quarter to produce a new snapshot.

You can find the complete snapshot here.


The economic snapshot was made possible by Chase Chase Logo
 
October 4, 2013

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Every San Diego company has a unique story to tell. That became very apparent as the region came together to celebrate MFG Day at San Diego City College on Friday. Four panelists representing a diversity of San Diego companies talked about the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s manufacturing sector, which employs more than 90,000 individuals.

Take D&K Engineering, a high-tech manufacturer.  When the entrepreneurs who created EcoATM were looking to make their idea a reality, they went to the Rancho Bernardo firm to create an e-recycling kiosk. As a result, D&K Engineering had to scale up its production and hire more employees. And they chose to do it in San Diego. “Access to talent and the border opportunities are one of the main reasons I chose to start D&K in San Diego. Besides, who wouldn’t want to live here?” said Alex Kunczynski, one of the company’s founders.

The border also adds a significant competitive advantage for local manufacturers. As Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said in his opening remarks, “this is a big deal.” San Diego and Tijuana are currently working together like never before. When asked about why Taylor Guitars chose to open up a manufacturing facility across the border in Tecate, VP of Manufacturing Chris Wellons said “We have a saying at Taylor Guitars. We say ‘We’ll we be happy we did this in 10 years.’” And happy they are. Manufacturing in Mexico, as opposed to China or somewhere else overseas, has given Taylor more control over its finished product. It’s also become more cost competitive.

Wellons alluded to the entrepreneurial spirit of another panelist. Stephan Aarstol started Tower Paddle Boards - a sports and active lifestyle company - in 2010. With a little help from ABC’s “Shark Tank,”he transformed his sales from $3,000 in 2010 to $3 million in 2013.  Although he only has four employees in San Diego, he plans on growing in the coming years, and he’s looking to do it in the region. To him, he’s not just selling a paddleboard but also exporting California culture to consumers all over the globe.

As Chris Wellons of Taylor Guitars echoed, keeping manufacturing jobs close to home really comes down to innovating the process. Taylor Guitars has more than 700 employees, with many of them working out of its El Cajon headquarters. Although customers can still rely on the same quality that made Taylor a household name when it was founded in 1974, the manufacturing process has evolved. Taylor used to carve each of its guitar necks out of an individual piece of mahogany, meaning 60 – 70 percent of the materials were wasted. In 1999, Taylor decided that process needed to change. The result was one of the greatest guitar innovations in the past 100 years.  Instead of using a one-piece neck, Taylor switched to a three-piece neck, which resulted in a 66 percent yield in materials and created a more sustainable product. This, Wellons said, was possible because of the ability to execute a vision, which he thinks is a strength of San Diego.

So what can San Diego do to continue incubating manufacturing?

The answer may be easier said than done. San Diego is fortunate enough to have a highly-educated workforce. The metro currently ranks fourth in the U.S. for Ph.D. attainment rates.  Although Ph.D.-trained workers are essential for many San Diego sectors, as the panelists noted, it’s not necessarily these types of jobs they have trouble filling, but the machinist jobs where workers require hands-on manufacturing skills.

Wellons learned these skills in his high school shop class, and so did many other highly-skilled manufacturers. Admittedly, we focus a lot of time on retaining and incubating high-tech talent, but as Interim Mayor Gloria pointed out “These jobs are important too. They provide a comfortable middle-class life.” San Diego City College provided the perfect backdrop to get this conversation going. As San Diego Community College District Trustee Peter Zschiesche noted, 98 percent of San Diego City College grads remain in San Diego. 

With the guidance of San Diego Community College District and organizations like San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego – and it’s nearly 2,800 manufacturers – are looking to put these grads to work.

Of course, this all starts with the conversation we had this morning. A conversation that I’d bet we’ll be happy we had in 10 years.

Please check out MFGday.com for a list of local companies that held tours today,

Media Coverage: 

KPBS, Taylor Guitars still strumming along as example of San Diego manufacturing success

U-T, S.D. county product makers open doors to public

 

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October 4, 2013

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More than 80 business and industry leaders gathered at the Challenged Athletes Foundation to mark the launch of San Diego County's Sports and Active Lifestyle Cluster Report, which quantified the impact of the cluster for the first time. In order to celebrate the industry and learn about challenges, a panel of sports innovators and experts who included John Sarkisian of SKLZ, Peter Callstrom of San Diego Workforce Partnership, and Stephan Aarstol of Tower Paddle Boards, spoke about a variety of topics related to the cluster. Opening remarks from Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner emphasized the importance of the industry to both the region's economy and cultural identity. 

Funded by San Diego Workforce Partnership with assistance from San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and San Diego Sport Innovators, the study found that the economic impact of the region’s SAL cluster is equivalent to hosting four Super Bowls annually.
 
With more than 1,200 businesses representing approximately 23,000 employees, the industry’s presence on the regional economy adds $2.24 billion in economic activity annually. From 2012-2013, the employment in the sports and active lifestyle cluster outpaced that of the entire county, growing 3-5 percent in the SAL cluster, compared to 1-2 percent growth in San Diego County. Overall, the industry accounted for 1.3 percent of the region’s economy in 2011.
 
“With the release of the study, we have concrete data to talk about a growing industry that is an important part of San Diego’s story,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. “As home to the second highest concentration of sports and active lifestyle workers in the U.S., this economic driver has an important place in the region’s innovation economy.”
 
Home to miles of beaches and favorable weather, the study also concluded that San Diego’s natural assets are one of the reasons the region has excelled in forming this cluster.
 
“San Diego is every sports and active lifestyle company’s ideal location,” said Lisa Freedman, executive director of SD Sport Innovators. “While there are other important and larger verticals in San Diego, the sports and active lifestyle cluster is a very strong community where authenticity goes hand in hand with innovation. As a result, people around the globe not only purchase and use, but they also rely on products developed and manufactured right here in Southern California.”
 
As part of the workforce assessment, the study surveyed numerous local companies to determine their employment needs. With 32,407 jobs dependent upon sports, active lifestyle and recreation related activities, cultivating a strong workforce is essential to growing the industry.
 
“As a unified region, our goal is to forge partnerships with businesses, universities and government to ensure that companies continue to find the talent they need so the region can retain its share of the sports innovation industry, ” said Peter Callstrom, president and CEO of San Diego Workforce Partnership.
 
In order to continue grooming the industry for growth, the report concluded with recommendations for helping sports innovation companies thrive including supporting entrepreneurial skills and strengthening cross-border ties for manufacturing partnerships.
 
Check out the executive summary and complete study for more information. More pictures from the event can be found here
 

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